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President Donald Trump’s supporters have learned a lot about the political process and the media within the past year.
Last year at this time, they learned the difference between primaries and caucuses and how each works.
Those who were in the dark about the Electoral College found out more about it after the election last November.
So much news — real and fake — about Trump is posted every day on websites great and small that it is difficult to keep up.
As Trump supporters are dropping Big Media sites as their main source of news, they have been increasingly turning to — of all things — White House press briefings.
Who has ever watched White House press briefings? No one. They were something for media insiders, not the average American. They were dull and sycophantic.
Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, and the media have changed all that. Since the inauguration, these briefings and ‘gaggles’ (the latter by invitation only) have become must-see or must-read events.
Who knew White House press briefings could be so popular?
On Tuesday, April 18, 2017 — still within Trump’s first 100 days as president — the Washington Examiner reported that Sean Spicer is one of the best known people in his administration. And it’s all thanks to his press briefings.
Excerpts from WashEx‘s article, ‘Huge: Spicer briefings draw 4.2 million viewers‘ follow, emphases mine:
There’s a reason why TMZ’s Harvey Levin recently called White House spokesman Sean Spicer one of the “most visible” people in all of Washington.
Because next to President Trump and his globe-trotting vice president, Mike Pence, Spicer’s afternoon briefings continue to be Must See Cable TV for millions of political junkies and the midday click for hundreds of thousands on Yahoo.
The ratings are stellar:
A Nielsen survey for Secrets of two weeks of ratings from CNN, MSNBC and Fox News put Spicer’s average daily viewership at 3.64 million, higher on newsy days to 4.5 million viewers.
And Yahoo told us that Spicer’s online audience sometimes averages 600,000 a day, and at least 3 million a week.
“We’d definitely consider these good, and certainly fair to say the briefings have found an audience on Yahoo,” said a spokeswoman.
In addition to Spicer, Trump’s counsellor (in an advisory sense) Kellyanne Conway is also well known to the public. TMZ’s Levin says:
To me, outside of Trump and maybe, maybe Pence, the two most visible people in D.C I think it’s her and Sean Spicer. I’m saying more than anybody in Congress right now.
Unlike in previous administrations, Big Media reporters who pole up to the White House are universally opposed to Trump. Spicer, an active US Navy reservist, has a struggle on his hands every day. He rarely falters in attempting to set the record straight, day after day.
The place is standing room only every time, which also adds to the interest.
Combined, these elements make Spicer’s press briefings compelling viewing:
“Conflict makes for great television,” said Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center. “It’s no secret that the liberal media despise President Trump. His spokesman Sean Spicer is pushing back — hard. The media have never been slapped around like this. It doesn’t matter which side you’re on, it is most entertaining,” he added.
A new feature of the briefings is that Spicer occasionally takes Skype questions from local television network news affiliates and alternative media commentators from a screen near his podium. Big Media baulked when he began opening up the floor, but the reporters and pundits on Skype ask much more informed questions than the big boys and girls do.
The press briefings are an important means of communication to all Americans, but especially to Trump supporters:
Fellow Republican spox Ron Bonjean, who handled White House communications for the effort to get Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court, said having a big TV and internet audience helps Trump keep his message directly in front of Americans.
“The reason why the press secretary holds televised briefings is to communicate directly with the American people. This means that when millions of voters are watching Sean Spicer’s press briefing, it can only help him directly deliver what President Trump’s priorities are on a daily basis,” said Bonjean.
“Basically it keeps a constant connection for Donald Trump to use the live news coverage to people that have supported him across the country,” added Bonjean, the chief communicator for a former House speaker, former Senate majority leader and former Commerce Department secretary.
Videos of each press briefing can be found on the White House Featured Videos page.
After viewing a few of these, some prefer reading the transcripts, which will save time — and frustration with reporters who come in with the same doggone questions every day. Transcripts are on the White House What’s Happening page.
Videos can also be found on YouTube via The White House channel under Press Conferences.
Here is the corresponding transcript.
As my post on the Easter Egg Roll mentioned, Spicer is no stranger to the White House. He worked as a staffer in the George W Bush administration, when he also played the role of an Easter bunny for the Egg Roll.
On December 22, 2016, Fox News reported:
President-elect Donald Trump announced Thursday that Spicer will get the coveted job of White House press secretary, as he announced the senior members of his communications team.
This also includes: Hope Hicks as director of strategic communications; Jason Miller as director of communications; and Dan Scavino as director of social media.
“Sean, Hope, Jason and Dan have been key members of my team during the campaign and transition. I am excited they will be leading the team that will communicate my agenda that will Make America Great Again,” Trump said in a statement.
Spicer was thought to have the inside track for the job, in part because of his ties to incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who currently runs the Republican National Committee.
Spicer worked alongside Priebus throughout the 2016 campaign as chief strategist and communications director at the RNC …
A commissioned officer in the Navy Reserves, Spicer previously served as Assistant United States Trade Representative (USTR) for Media and Public Affairs under the George W. Bush administration, and worked for the House Republican Conference before that.
Here is a photo of him on duty in uniform taken last week with a reporter from Today, NBC’s breakfast show (photo courtesy of The_Donald):
On April 14, 2017, Fox News reported that Spicer has longstanding ties to both the Navy and media work:
Spicer reported to fulfill his duty at the Joint Chiefs of Staff offices, a White House official told Fox News. The well-known spokesman holds the rank of commander — which sits just under the higher rank of captain in the Navy.
Spicer, who joined the Navy Reserve nearly 20 years ago while maintaining his primary work as a Republican media operative and strategist, also possesses a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.
As a media operative and strategist, Spicer was part of joint naval exercises overseas in Guam, Germany and Sweden. He also oversaw media coverage of the US Navy’s operations at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.
Spicer’s wife, Rebecca Miller, also has a career in media and communications. When the two were married in 2004 at St Alban’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC, she was a television producer. Miller is now senior vice president, communications and public affairs, for the National Beer Wholesalers Association. The Spicers have two children.
The Anheuser-Busch commercial for the Superbowl this year, scheduled to air on February 5, has kicked up a storm and is viewed by a number of Americans as pro-immigration advertising.
It comes a week after President Donald Trump initiated a 90-day immigration ban on seven countries which have majority Muslim populations. These selected countries lack the means for sufficient background checks on their own citizens. (More about this in a future post.)
See if you think this is political commentary:
I have two problems with it. First, by the time Adolphus Busch arrived in the United States in 1857, Germans had been emigrating there for a century, at least. They were well established in society. Secondly, it was unclear to me that the final scene was the famous ‘when Anheuser met Busch’ moment. I thought he was a random guy in a bar until I saw a YouTube from Mark Dice explaining it in the first minute or so:
Budweiser, owned by InBev — a Belgian corporation — denies it is commenting on Trump policy or an anti-immigration climate.
However, I cannot help but wonder if Adolphus Busch would have wanted to be portrayed in that way. Most immigrants wanted to assimilate straightaway. They were not going to dwell on the voyage over, their processing time at Ellis Island or their early years getting established. Everything was about becoming an American.
If you doubt this, then, please be aware that his Wikipedia entry states (emphases mine):
His wealthy family ran a wholesale business of winery and brewery supplies. Busch and his brothers all received quality educations, and he graduated from the notable Collegiate Institute of Belgium in Brussels.
Another German immigrant came to America in the 19th century. His name was Friedrich Trump, pictured at left (courtesy of Wikipedia). He was a Lutheran and came from Kallstadt in Bavaria. He managed to make a fortune within three years. He went everywhere, from New York to the Yukon. Nary a complaint. Even the most recent Channel 4 documentary by anti-Trump Matt Frei on his grandson — shown in late January 2017 — painted Friedrich as a clever, enterprising businessman. That makes me think Adolphus Busch was of the same entrepreneurial mindset.
You didn’t go to the US as a victim then, that’s for sure.
Incidentally, Friedrich returned to Kallstadt after three years only to go through a series of legal hurdles regarding his German nationality! He found out it had been revoked, possibly because he went to the US around the time he was to do his military service. So, back to America he went and the rest is history. According to Matt Frei’s documentary, Friedrich quietly enjoyed his life a lot but died in the Influenza Epidemic of 1918. His widow, Elizabeth — also from Kallstadt — set up a real estate company for her middle son Fred, the president’s father. It was called Elizabeth Trump & Son. Fred was still a minor at the time, even though he was precocious enough to follow in his father’s footsteps and get small houses built.
I recommend that we need to watch these adverts with a gimlet eye and research the immigrant mindset of the 19th and early 20th centuries, very much oriented to assimilating into American society — as future Americans.
Sean Hannity is well known to Americans, even those who do not watch Fox News.
On Thursday, January 26, 2017, President Donald Trump granted him an interview which is well worth watching, especially for people overseas who are fearful of him.
Trump talks about the dishonest media (starting at 11:00), including the fake news about the inauguration crowds, his address to the CIA and the Martin Luther King Jr bust controversy.
He talks about terrorists (around 23:00) and says that opponents to his policies do not understand how violent and hateful radical Islamists are.
On the walk to the Oval Office (starting at 30:00), Trump tells Hannity that Inauguration Day was a ‘surreal’ experience. Unfortunately, he has not had time to take it all in. He has been too busy working. However, he enjoys working. Holidays bore him. He also said that Barron, his ten-year-old son, is finding it challenging adjusting to the glare of publicity. However, given time, he is confident that the boy will learn to take it in his stride. Trump strongly condemned Saturday Night Live‘s potshot at the first son on the January 21 show. Barron is aware of the egregious comedy they made at his expense. Here is another SNL comment, one which even Bernie fans and Green Party supporters found abhorrent. These are hurtful, especially to a child.
Once in the Oval Office, the discussion revolved around some of the furnishings which Trump has changed. The paintings are all of past presidents from the first century of the United States. Andrew Jackson has just been added. I’ll go into his story soon, as I see several similarities between Trump and Old Hickory. We also saw the bust of Martin Luther King Jr, which is unmoved and still on a table near the fireplace.
This is a thoughtful interview, more of a conversation between two men who know each other well. I highly recommend it.
Sorry to be late to the party with this item, but it was in our two-week Christmas issue of the Radio Times, Britain’s foremost television (and radio) guide.
In the 17-30 December 2016 issue, the back page interview was with Prime Minister Theresa May, also the MP for Maidenhead. She answered a variety of questions from reporter Michael Hodges. Excerpts and a summary follow.
On Christmas Day, she and her husband Philip go to church. Afterwards, they meet up with friends for a drink, then it’s off to an ecumenical lunch for the elderly, where May takes time to talk with her constituents.
The Mays return home where the Prime Minister roasts a goose for Christmas dinner. They haven’t had turkey for several years. Although others consider goose to be extremely fatty, May points out:
if you keep the fat, it makes wonderful roast potatoes for quite a long time thereafter.
Absolutely. We also have goose at Christmas, partly for that reason, and for the unctuous stock from the wings.
May, a practising Anglican, lent the Radio Times a photo of herself as a girl with her late father, the Revd Hubert Brasier. She told Michael Hodges what Christmas past was like:
Throughout my life I have been going to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and church on Christmas Day morning. As a child I had to wait until my father had finished his services before I could open my presents.
It felt like a very long wait. Others I knew would be able to open their presents first thing in the morning.
I’m an only child and my mother played the organ. So I would sit alongside her while my father was taking the service.
The interview did not mention that May’s parents died within a year of each other. Her father died just as she completed her studies at Oxford and her mother several months later. It can’t have been easy for her, especially with no siblings for support:
When you first lose your parents, Christmas is hugely, hugely important. Now I enjoy Christmas with my husband Philip and we keep up the tradition of going to church. But, of course, it does remind me of my parents.
During her childhood, she watched only the BBC, until:
one day, my mother managed to jiggle the aerial and we got ITV and I saw Robin Hood. That music and Richard Greene as Robin Hood really grabbed me.
This is the iconic theme to which May refers:
May’s other television favourites included early series of The Avengers with Diana Rigg, then Joanna Lumley, although:
I have never had a female role model — I’ve always just got on with doing what I am doing.
As an adult, she watched the ‘very evocative’ Das Boot. These days, she enjoys Scandinavian dramas Borgen and The Bridge. Christmas Day favourites include Doctor Who and David Suchet as Poirot.
She doesn’t take recommendations for television viewing:
My advisers don’t tell me what to watch on the television — I watch what I want to watch.
May ended the interview by saying she had no idea a year ago that she would be Prime Minister today.
What follows is her four-minute New Year’s message. If her father was as eloquent a speaker as his daughter is, he must have been a splendid vicar. May speaks of the change that Brexit will bring this year but also of the unity of the four nations of the United Kingdom and the shared values and experiences that make us one people:
This is very similar to the first speech she gave as Prime Minister outside No. 10.
She and Donald Trump will get on well. Of that, I have no doubt.
This year, two old and significant predictions about Donald Trump as president surfaced.
The older one dates from 1990. Scott Adams foresaw this in Dilbert 26 years ago:
In 2000, the Simpsons’ creators predicted a Trump presidency. Lisa succeeds him as the first female president and sets out to fix ‘Trump’s’ budget deficit.
As the narrator of this fascinating selection of clips from The Simpsons explains, there was no animation of Trump in the 2000 episode, just a mention of his name.
The animation of Trump came later in a 2015 short made after he declared his candidacy at Trump Tower. In it, Homer gets lost in the vortex of the billionaire’s hair.
The video above has more odd predictions from The Simpsons. Some are more accurate than others. Of particular interest is the 1997 clip showing iPhone-type mobile devices and another one from that year about Ebola. Fascinating!
UPTucker Carlson might not yet be a household name, but it could be soon.
His Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight began just a little over a month ago on November 14, 2016.
(Photo credit: The_Donald)
Seasoned viewers of American cable news channels will have seen him on CNN between 2000 and 2005 in the days when he sported a bow tie. He was CNN’s youngest anchor when they hired him. He co-hosted The Spin Room and later Crossfire. He also hosted a current affairs show on PBS during this time, Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered.
In 2004, Carlson and The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart got into an intense discussion on Crossfire, which some viewers might remember. Stewart stayed on the air afterwards to talk about the issues raised. In January 2005, CNN decided not to renew Carlson’s contract, although he maintains he had already resigned:
I resigned from Crossfire in April, many months before Jon Stewart came on our show, because I didn’t like the partisanship, and I thought in some ways it was kind of a pointless conversation … each side coming out, you know, ‘Here’s my argument’, and no one listening to anyone else. [CNN] was a frustrating place to work.”
In June 2005, Carlson moved to MSNBC where he hosted Tucker in the evenings. He also did other broadcasts and investigative reports. However, the channel’s shows became more oriented to the left-wing and, in 2008, Carlson found his programme cancelled because of low ratings. He explained:
they didn’t have a role for me.
Carlson began working for Fox News in 2009 as a contributor, guest panellist and substitute presenter on several shows. He joined the Fox & Friends team in 2013 then left when he got his own show.
In January 2010, with the help of a longtime friend Neil Patel, Carlson co-founded The Daily Caller, a reputable and popular news site. He resigned as editor-in chief in November, although he will retain his ownership stake of the site. He said:
It was really hard. Not because I’m a great manager, I’m a terrible manager. But I loved it and I loved the guys.
Tucker Carlson Tonight airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET. All the segments can be found on YouTube.
Carlson is quickly developing a welcome reputation for destroying left-wing arguments coherently. He is firm but polite. When the guests’ arguments are particularly off-the-wall, he pulls a face. In fact, you can even buy a tee shirt and enjoy his facial expression whenever you like.
The_Donald‘s contributors, not the world’s biggest television viewers, have this to say:
You see in his eyes that’s he trying to go through the mental gymnastics his guest is and realizing just how it doesn’t compute.
I’m getting addicted to his nightly thrashings of idiots. Never raises his voices, uses their own words and idiocy against them. Has become true must-see tv in our house.
His show comes on right around the time I’m cooking and eating dinner. I have never recorded a news show before because it seems silly, but I record Tucker every night now!
I just really enjoy the way he encourages them to go full moron on national tv.
Oh man… I literally sit down to start watching and the first guest is just getting blown out the water to the point where I don’t even know if I can watch without cringing. Tucker does more in 2 minutes than whole news outlets do all day. Every show is bananas and so direct! Love it
There is more love from The_Donald here and here. There is also a Reddit page devoted to him. This is great because most of the contributors to both subReddits are twenty-somethings and political independents who supported Donald Trump.
In this video of December 8, California Congressman Adam Schiff (D) accuses Tucker of ‘carrying water for the Kremlin’:
On December 1, he had a go at Newsweek:
And, the following day, the New York Times:
After all, he went to a top Episcopal school in New England, St George’s, just outside of swank Newport, Rhode Island. The school is one of five collectively referred to as St Grottlesex (emphases in the original):
St. Mark’s, St. Paul’s, and St. George’s, then part of Groton, an extra t, and then ended with Middlesex.
Carlson went on to study history at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. It was founded by an Episcopal bishop in 1824 and was originally called Washington College. It was renamed Trinity in 1845.
I once worked for a High WASP who attended Groton and Trinity. (Groton rhymes with ‘rotten’, by the way. It’s important to know how to pronounce it if you ever find yourself in this milieu.) I give him top marks overall. So, I was impressed to see that Carlson went to St George’s and Trinity, which gives me further insight as to what sort of man he must be. It is not unusual for Trinity men to wear bow ties. It’s a High WASP look.
Then I looked up his father’s Wikipedia entry and discovered that the Carlson family aren’t High WASP at all. His dad’s life story is even more interesting.
Richard Warner “Dick” Carlson might be best known for heading Voice of America, which broadcasts overseas, during the last six years of the Cold War. During that time, he was also the head of Radio Marti which broadcast to Cuba and was also involved with other government-funded information entities designed to build goodwill between the United States and foreign countries.
Dick’s origins are fascinating. He was born in Boston in 1941 and his name was Richard Boynton. His mother was a high school student and his father, Richard Boynton, was in college at the time. Boynton committed suicide in Dick’s infancy. His mother, Dorothy Anderson, gave him to the Home for Little Wanderers, an orphanage in Boston.
In 1943, Mr and Mrs W E Carlson of nearby Norwood adopted the child. They had no children of their own. Mr Carlson managed North America’s largest and oldest tannery, Winslow Brothers & Smith in Norwood. Mr Carlson died in 1953 and 12-year-old Dick went to work to help provide for his mother.
Dick never graduated from high school. He joined the military when he was 17 and served as a medic with the third Battalion, Sixth Marine regiment at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and with the USMC Escape & Evasion School at Camp Geiger, N.C. He later graduated from the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Bainbridge, Maryland. Afterwards, he earned a NROTC scholarship to the University of Mississippi.
After being honourably discharged from the Naval Reserves, he worked for one summer as a patrol officer in the family resort town of Ocean City, Maryland. He returned to Mississippi that autumn to continue his studies but left in October 1962 when a series of violent riots occurred. This was the time of Civil Rights unrest and desegregation. Ole Miss, as the university is known, was attempting to admit its first black student, and segregationists went mad.
Carlson went to California to break into journalism. Although he started as a copy boy at the Los Angeles Times, he managed to get odd jobs which would propel his career: working for top entertainment columnist Louella Parsons and for United Press International’s Foreign Film Bureau.
UPI hired him as a full-time general assignment reporter in 1963, working from their bureau in San Francisco. He was promoted to night bureau chief by the end of the year.
He went on to write for Time and Look magazines and joined ABC News as a correspondent, on assignment in San Francisco and Los Angeles. By then, the late 1960s, riots were breaking out around the nation. Dick covered the main ones in California and was even injured at the San Francisco State College Riots.
Dick married an Omaha girl, Patricia Caroline Swanson. In 1969, she gave birth to Tucker McNear Carlson in San Francisco. (The couple have two other children.)
Dick won many awards for his journalism between 1967 and 1997. In the early 1990s, he worked for George Herbert Walker Bush’s administration. He was the Ambassador to the Seychelles, the head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (parent company of PBS and NPR). He has also worked in counter-terrorism.
Today, he and his wife live in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Dick writes a weekly newspaper column for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Charleston Mercury.
By now, some will be wondering more about Tucker’s Episcopalianism. He did bring up an analogy involving a hypothetical Episcopal priest in a recent show. His Wikipedia page also states that he is still an Episcopalian.
“So we’re responsible for the Crusades a thousand years ago?” Carlson complained. “Who’s ‘us’ anyway? And by the way, who ended slavery and Jim Crow? Christians. The Rev. Martin Luther King. Christians.”
“Christianity is the reason we don’t have slavery in the world today,” he added. “I mean, talk about ahistorical.”
“What’s so striking though is his mention of the Crusades as a way to make the point, ‘Before you judge ISIS, keep in mind that that Christians did it too,'” Carlson asserted. “The Crusades is a fixation among jihadis. There’s not a press release from ISIS or from al Qaeda that doesn’t call us Crusaders.”
Democrat-aligned Media Matters took Carlson to task for suggesting that ‘mainstream religious faith’ refers to Christianity when most of the world’s population is, apparently, Buddhist. The exchange below concerns Tiger Woods, who converted to Buddhism in 2010 during a rough patch:
Jacksonville, FL: When did Brit Hume go crazy? Tiger Woods should embrace Christianity and we will forgive him?
You say this on the air?
Tucker Carlson: Crazy? No. John Wayne Gacy was crazy. Judy Garland and Ezra Pound were crazy. Recommending that someone in distress adopt a mainstream religious faith is pretty conventional advice.
Carlson was probably thinking of Westerners, Americans in particular, not people worldwide.
In any event, it’s great that he is willing to defend and speak out on behalf of the Church.
UPDATE — APRIL 2017: Carlson has removed his Episcopalian affiliation from his Wikipedia page. However, in an April 10, 2017 article, The New Yorker states that he is still an Episcopalian, one who ‘abhors’ the left-wing clergy running the denomination. Good man. During their courtship, his future wife persuaded him to take Christianity seriously.
One of their professors is Dr René De la Pedraja, who has been teaching there since 1989. His speciality is Latin America. He lived in the region for 20 years, mostly in Colombia and Cuba.
On Monday, November 28, 2016, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson interviewed De la Pedraja for his views on Fidel Castro’s death. This is a must-see interview in which, among other things, the professor claims that Cuba under Fidel symbolised freedom.
He says that Castro cracked down on dissidents because they were doctors educated for free who wanted to move overseas to earn more money. Other than that, there was no political oppression. When Carlson pressed him about refugees fleeing any way they could manage, the professor said those people were bored with their wives and families, nothing more. What he says is so absurd, it has to be heard to be believed.
Carlson is a great interviewer, far from the usual Big Media type. He is not afraid to disagree with crackpots. According to people who watch his show regularly, he seeks out leftists and asks them all the questions sensible people would ask. He gives no quarter, but does it conversationally.
At the end of the interview about Castro, he had this exchange with the professor:
Carlson: Well, Cuba is a hellhole. That’s why nobody moves there.
Professor: I’d have to disagree with you.
Carlson: Well, you’re still here, so I doubt that.
On a similar note, here’s a great graphic: