Were Conservatives Too Quiet About Bill O’Reilly?

Unsurprisingly, Eric Boehlert of Media Matters thinks conservatives should have been harder on former FNC star Bill O’Reilly, dismissed amid charges of sexual harassment:

The cheap and easy response — to paraphrase the Partnership For a Drug-Free America — is that we learned it from you, Dad.

America’s cultural progressives mainstreamed sexual misconduct by the rich and powerful when they decided to defend the serial sexual misconduct of Bill Clinton (including lying under oath to a federal judge in a sexual harassment case about his exploitation of a 19-year-old intern).  His chief enabler was Hillary Clinton, who among other things was prepared to smear the intern and write the scandal off as a vast right-wing conspiracy.

Media Matters — according to the rabid right-wingers at The New New Republic — “had long ceased to be a mere [media] watchdog, having positioned itself at the center of a group of public relations and advocacy outfits whose mission was to help put [Hillary] Clinton in the White House.”  But Hillary managed to lose to Donald Trump, leaving Media Matters with less to do… outside of organizing an advertiser boycott of O’Reilly.

A skeptic might be forgiven for thinking Boehlert’s outrage is mostly an attempt to squeeze the last drops of juice out of that campaign.

The second-easiest retort is to note that Boehlert criticized RedState in particular for not being critical of FNC, although the site had been critical of O’Reilly (more than once, including on this subject), not to mention Sean Hannity and Eric Bolling (and any combo of these).  It takes a special kind of media watchdog to get into a Twitter fight with a site that was among the least guilty of going easy on O’Reilly or FNC.

But the fact that the issue was raised by a paid partisan troll and with enough hypocrisy to fill the Grand Canyon doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad question.

After all, if you think that the Clintonite Democrats should not drag all of our standards into the gutter, some self-reflection should be in order.  Aside from the corrosive effects of cultural progressivism, there are several other factors worth considering.

For example, Boehlert’s complaint seems to be that people in conservative media don’t want to cross FNC because of its role as a gatekeeper and because it is in some ways the top of the conservative media food chain.  Conservatives shouldn’t pretend there is no truth in that.  Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote back in 2010 about the problem righty media folk often face: sell out to the movement or sell out the movement.

OTOH, lefties might want to consider that this incentive structure for conservative journalists exists in no small part because the establishment media — media that Boehlert is paid to find too conservative — is in fact much more likely to hire from overtly liberal outlets than from conservative ones.  That would require progressives to recognize a type of privilege that doesn’t fit neatly into their identity politics.

That doesn’t mean conservative journalists cannot and should not aspire to be better; it just means the establishment media might aspire to the same.

Of course, the incentive structure for conservative journalists isn’t the only O’Reilly factor (ouch!).  As Dougherty and Rod Dreher pointed out in responding to Boehlert, O’Reilly appealed more to their parents than to them.  This is consistent with my note yesterday that the main demo for FNC primetime is white seniors.  If you’re the sort who who reads — let alone works for — Media Matters, it may not register that many — or at least some — righty writers don’t have a monomaniacal obsession with FNC.

As with most things, however, there is a flip side to this point.  As Issac Chotiner points out at Slate, O’Reilly was always much less of a fiscal, foreign policy or religious conservative than someone motivated by cultural conservatism and his own “unrepentant solipsism.”

Regarding this latter point, also listen to John Podhoretz on the Commentary podcast (wherein JPod — can I call him JPod? — also places O’Reilly’s solipsism in the broader context of non-fiction “star vehicles” on TV).  But let’s more closely examine the former point.

I would submit that a substantial segment of the conservative media outside FNC didn’t spend much time thinking or caring about Bill O’Reilly because they really didn’t think or care much about the sort of cultural conservatism that drove O’Reilly’s show.  Some still don’t.  They missed the O’Reilly story because they weren’t invested in him or his issues.

But that’s part of How They Missed Trump, too.  And that’s why I’ve written about the need to take “dumb news” seriously.  When the better minds don’t, we shouldn’t be surprised when the provocateurs fill that vacuum, generally to bad results for the Right.

In sum, there are plenty of reasons why conservative writers didn’t opine as much as they might have about the allegedly scandalous exploits of Bill O’Reilly.  But it’s never too late for righties — and lefties — to learn from it.

PS: Consider subscribing to WHRPT in the sidebar (the posts come straight to your inbox; no muss no fuss). And following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing!

Upheaval at Fox, But It’s Still Rupert’s Empire

Bill O’Reilly is out after 21 years of holding the flagship position on-air at Fox News Channel, as the sexual harassment charges and settlements piled up.  But no one should seriously doubt that Rupert Murdoch remains the Palpatine of his media empire.  Indeed, the turmoil at the network even now proves it.

To be sure, people will opine that O’Reilly’s ouster represents a victory for Rupert’s sons, James and Lachlan, bolstered by senior executives at other divisions within the Murdoch empire who chafed at the seeming special treatment for the man with the falafel.  And it is nice that 21st Century Fox is being dragged into the late 20th Century.  I know people who still work there and the HR office doesn’t need to be run by Roger Sterling and Don Draper.

But what Rupert understands is money.  Not just the relatively small-to-him sums being paid out to settle claims brought against O’Reilly or former program honcho Roger Ailes, or to buy out their contracts.

Rather, he’s likely looking at the threat posed by FNC’s highest-rated show being boycotted by prestige advertisers.  FNC’s primetime has always been based on the model of talk-radio-with-pictures; Rupert undoubtedly noticed what happened to the revenues and clearance for the entire conservative talk radio sector once a similar boycott stuck to Rush Limbaugh.

But the turmoil that has gripped FNC over the past year largely has been caused by Rupert’s control over his vision for the operation, both before and after yanking O’Reilly off camera.

The general narrative has been one of Rupert fighting his sons over the direction of the network he created with Ailes many years ago.  As right-leaning talk video, it has attracted largely the same demographic as right-leaning talk radio: white seniors.

James and Lachlan would like to start the transition that will be inevitable as its core audience literally dies and is replaced by another generation that may not have the same politics as the current one.  Rupert sees the current FNC as a yuge cash cow and is loath to fuss with the formula.

While I might prefer the sons’ vision for FNC, I can’t blame Rupert for the impulse to not fix what isn’t broken, especially when you have to answer to stockholders.  That said, there is also an argument that you can stagnate and lose when you don’t take the initiative to innovate from time to time.  And it is very much a question of timing that is probably unknowable.

All of that said, consider that the departures of Ailes and O’Reilly were basically forced upon Rupert by the circumstances, not by choice.  OTOH, Rupert chose to let Megyn Kelly leave last year — and FNC’s schedule would have been far more stable had he met her asking price.

That choice was quite consciously one in the direction of a Trumpier FNC, as is yesterday’s decision to give Eric Bolling a show while moving the rest of The Five to primetime.  And it is most evident in the meteoric rise of Tucker Carlson, who has surfed the shock waves at FNC from weekends to Greta Van Susteren’s slot into O’Reilly’s chair.

Carlson is nothing if not flexible.  He has been a middle-of-the-road conservative for CNN, a provocative prankster at the Daily Caller, a libertarianish righty for MSNBC, and now a Trumpian tribune for Fox (even dropping his signature WASPy bow tie in favor of more proletarian neckwear).

As Carlson told McKay Coppins recently: “I’m not much of an economic conservative, and I’m not conservative at all on foreign policy.  If your politics don’t change when circumstances do, you’re an idiot, you’re a reactionary.”

I could write a longread deconstructing that quotation alone, but today is not that day.

Rather, the important thing now is that Carlson’s chameleon-like adaptability has provided him with an opportunity, but one that comes with its own inherent challenge — and one Rupert has imposed on FNC in general.

The challenge of boarding the Trump Train is that it doesn’t run on tracks.  You have no idea where it’s going to make stops.  Indeed, Trump has recently been making a raft of policy shifts seemingly away from populism and nationalism, and toward a far more conventional Republican approach.

Carlson’s reaction has been to do things like debate Lindsey Graham for agreeing with Pres. Trump’s new position on Syria, and to bring Ann Coulter on to chastise Trump.*

Carlson thus seems (so far) to be taking the Bannonesque position of holding Trump accountable to that segment of his core voters who were really serious about Trump’s advertised nationalism and populism.

But what if that’s not a yuge segment of Trump voters, let alone Fox News viewers?  What if Trump’s support is driven more by the tribal drums of traditional partisanship, by GOPers who voted for Trump because he was a better choice than Hillary Clinton, who like his recent turn towards more traditional Republicanism, and are just more inclined to side with the President over some griping talking head on Fox?

Carlson has changed his politics to fit what he thinks are vastly changed circumstances.  But he’ll be judged by an audience that may become less incline to cheer New Tucker at the very moment he’s received the big promotion.

And again: Rupert runs a capitalist empire; he won’t think twice about demoting Carlson if the ratings decline — or dispatching any of the people at FNC who have trimmed their sails to the Trumpian winds of months past.  In that regard, Rupert is the alpha chameleon of his empire.  It’s not easy being green, but that’s his preferred color.

*[Aside: Carlson’s inferior knowledge of the Middle East compared to Graham, much like his flailing idiocy about capitalism when trying to debate Mark Cuban, tends to prove my point that Carlson should debate tomato cans less, to keep in shape.  I reiterate this even though the New New Left’s collegiate antifa are a major symptom of what’s wrong with America these days and need to be exposed.  Carlson’s taking the big chair and will need to up his game if he wants to stay there.]

PS: Consider subscribing to WHRPT in the sidebar (the posts come straight to your inbox; no muss no fuss). And following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing!

This is TrumpTV

Remember when people were concerned that after Donald Trump lost the election, he would start up a “news” channel?  Good times.  Instead, Trump won and we have a surplus of Trump TV.

You might think I’m referring to the Fox News Channel.  Granted, the ostensibly straight news side of Fox doesn’t totally shill for the President (my family’s biggest Trump fan now prefers the even more Trump-friendly Fox Business Network).  But when FNC’s biggest star was again being accused of being a little too fresh with the womenfolk, not unlike Trump, his old milkshake buddy volunteered his support.

But I was also thinking of Jonathan Mahler’s NYT Magazine piece, “CNN Had a Problem. Donald Trump Solved It.

The problem? “[A]n existential threat was looming. In a world where cable cutters were consuming their news in bite-size portions on their phones and streaming free video over the internet, how much longer would anyone be willing to pay for expensive cable packages? Real breaking-news events happened only every so often, and people lost interest in them quickly; more quickly than ever, in fact, now that there was so much else to distract them.”

The solution?  Donald J. Trump, Bringer of Ratings.  And after the election, “[w]hat [CNN Worldwide president Jeff] Zucker is creating now is a new kind of must-see TV — produced almost entirely in CNN’s studios — an unending loop of dramatic moments, conflicts and confrontations.”  Sound like anyone we know?

As Mahler notes, while at NBC, Zucker “helped usher in the age of reality TV, first with the gross-out show ‘Fear Factor’ and then with ‘The Apprentice’,” which of course starred Trump.

Zucker has brought that sensibility to CNN: “As Zucker sees it, his pro-Trump panelists are not just spokespeople for a worldview; they are ‘characters in a drama,’ members of CNN’s extended ensemble cast.  ‘Everybody says, “Oh, I can’t believe you have Jeffrey Lord or Kayleigh McEnany,” but you know what?’ Zucker told me with some satisfaction.  ‘They know who Jeffrey Lord and Kayleigh McEnany are.'”

Indeed, a recurring theme in Mahler’s longread is that “[i]t’s a symbiotic relationship that could only thrive in the world of television, where the borders between news and entertainment, and even fantasy and reality, have grown increasingly murky.”

For example, Mahler further notes that “Zucker is a big sports fan and from the early days of the campaign had spoken at editorial meetings about wanting to incorporate elements of ESPN’s programming into CNN’s election coverage.  ‘The idea that politics is sport is undeniable, and we understood that and approached it that way,’ he told me.  Toward that end, the network built ‘pregame’ sets outside debate halls with excited crowds in the background and created a temporary rooftop studio for the final weeks of the campaign with sweeping views of the White House and the Washington Monument.”

I have written at length about the ESPNization of political media and was inspired to do so by one of those pregame sets.  It’s a decline decades in the making, driven by economics as well as technology.  But the escalation is very much TrumpTV.

The relationship between Trump and Zucker may have soured for the moment, but you can easily imagine the make-up call in which one of them says, right out of the TV/movie cliche book: “You know, we’re not so different, you and I…”

While CNN may have been one of the worst offenders during the primaries, also recall CBS CEO Les Moonves from this period: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”  And post-election, BuzzFeed’s EIC Ben Smith has said “(Trump) has singlehandedly…postponed the collapse of a fair share of legacy media in an interesting way,” though this ignores that sites like his have reaped the clicks as well.

The surface politics of these outlets may oppose Trump, but now more than ever they share his ideology of enriching and empowering themselves by inflaming controversies and increasingly adopting his tabloid standards.  It’s all about the audience share.  In this regard, they all are — like Sean Hannity — Great Americans.

PS: Consider subscribing to WHRPT in the sidebar (the posts come straight to your inbox; no muss no fuss). And following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing!

What’s Going Wrong in Conservative Media

I start with the near-obligatory reminder that I am on the record arguing that until establishment media hires enough people with non-Left viewpoints as both reporters and editors to constantly challenge newsroom groupthink, its fundamental biases will persist.

I tend to doubt Big Media will ever do this, but some recent stories about conservative media will hand them some easy rationalizations.

Judge Andrew Napolitano returned to Fox News Channel and affirmed his belief that Pres. Obama asked British intelligence to conduct surveillance on Pres. Trump.  He was previously suspended for making this claim and the supposed “news” side of Fox tried to distance itself from the apparently baseless claim.  But he not only repeated it on a straight news show in his return visit, but also appeared on another supposedly straight news show that evening (lest you think he got suspended again).

Geraldo Rivera accused the House Freedom Caucus of “treason” for opposing the failed House GOP healthcare bill.  Rivera is considered a Fox News correspondent, not a contributor.

Breitbart News has been denied permanent press credentials on Capitol Hill until it clarifies its links to a conservative nonprofit group as well to a major Trump donor whose family is an investor in the site.  And Breitbart’s brand of journalism has corporate advertisers trying to flee association with the site.

Not even GOP loyalists like radio talker Hugh Hewitt trust Breitbart as a news source.  Yet Breitbart dominates conservative social media, perhaps because the number of high-profile conservatives who regularly speak out about Breitbart’s excesses is pretty small.

Regnery Publishing is interested in publishing the book by Milo Yiannopoulos that was dropped by Simon & Schuster after comments surfaced in which Milo condoned sexual relationships between young teenagers and adults.  Apparently his anti-Semitic remarks need more publicity, because Regnery seems to be overlooking those also.

The Independent Journal Review has seen staff departures over the publication of a conspiracy theory and the site’s general editorial direction.  Reportedly, other staffers are also looking to leave.

Of all these stories, the IJR report is the most heartening, as it demonstrates that there are conservative journalists who do not want to be associated with the standards adopted by some conservative media outlets, and overlooked by many conservative media critics.

If conservatives want the establishment media to take conservative journalists seriously, they need to take conservative journalism seriously enough to hold it to the standards they want the establishment to observe.

Update: There’s a minor correction to this post (i.e., it does not affect the thesis) at the end of this companion post.

PS: Consider subscribing to WHRPT in the sidebar (the posts come straight to your inbox; no muss no fuss). And following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing!

Reaping News

According to a new Harvard-Harris Poll, 59 percent of Republicans say they believe Pres. Trump’s claim that fmr. Pres. Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.  That claim has been rejected by FBI Dir. James Comey, as well as many GOP leaders in Congress.  Similarly, NSA Dir. Michael Rogers has rejected Trump’s claim that Obama asked British intelligence (GCHQ) to conduct surveillance on Trump.  Overall, 66 percent of registered voters reject the claim.

Trump and White House spox Sean Spicer relied on Fox News Channel pundit Judge Andrew Napolitano to justify their claim about GCHQ.  Napolitano had managed to mangle an already dubious claim by wacky CIA analyst-turned-blogger Larry Johnson on RT, the “news” channel funded by the Russian government.

The “news” side of Fox, including anchors Shepard Smith and Bret Baier, tried to distance itself from the ensuing international spat.  Napolitano was indefinitely suspended from FNC over the flap.  Cynics linked the suspension of Napolitano to the backlash the baseless claim could have on Fox News honcho Rupert Murdoch’s proposed deal to purchase Sky News in the UK.

The cynics are finding more ammo in yesterday’s editorial from the Murdoch-affiliated Wall Street Journal, which said of the wiretap claims that “the President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle” and warned that “he needs support beyond the Breitbart cheering section that will excuse anything. As he is learning with the health-care bill, Mr. Trump needs partners in his own party to pass his agenda. He also needs friends abroad who are willing to trust him when he asks for support, not least in a crisis.”

It’s hard to discount the cynics in light of prior reports that Murdoch was much involved in directing the tone of Fox’s Trump programming, both when it was tough and when it turned soft.  And reports that there have been tensions within the WSJ’s newsroom over its Trump coverage.

Indeed, it’s a little rich to see the WSJ condemning the “Breitbart cheering section” while ignoring Sean Hannity wildly shaking his pom-poms for Trump from Murdoch’s sidecar.

The WSJ is right to be concerned about Trump’s credibility.  One hopes conservative media might take the moment to consider how much they are linking theirs to his, and how it affects the public discourse.

PS: Consider subscribing to WHRPT in the sidebar (the posts come straight to your inbox; no muss no fuss). And following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading!

Big Media is Distrusted. So What?

Given the clickbaity title, I’ll remind you that when it comes to political journalism — especially since Donald Trump’s election — I’m more pessimistic than The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway, who spends much of her time giving the media grief.

She has plenty of advice for how journalists could do their job better and often advocates that they should listen more to people who voted differently than their newsrooms.  OTOH, I have seen the establishment media try putting people on “the conservative beat” enough times to have given up much hope that works.  Until Big Media hires enough people with non-Left viewpoints as both reporters and editors to constantly challenge newsroom groupthink, the basic problems will persist.

So why the clickbaity title?  Mostly to distinguish between two types of media analysis or criticism.

Let’s call the first, more common type academic or institutional.  These pieces examine whether a story is accurate or well-supported, whether columnists are contradicting themselves, whether journalism — or America — would function better if the media adopted certain practices, and so on.

Another type of media analysis is more practical or political.  Presuming — as conservatives (and most voters) have concluded — that Big Media has been biased against Trump (as it generally is against Republicans year after year), what does that mean as a matter of politics?

The “So what?” question has different answers, depending on the analysis applied.

It’s one thing to point out — as I have to at least one establishment journalist —  that according to Gallup, only 32% of Americans have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media, which should concern journalists in the academic or institutional sense.   Gallup even records numbers as low as 20-21% for those who have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in TV news and newspapers.

These are generally conservatives’ go-to stats on trust in Big Media, but the result depends on the pollster and the questions asked.  The American Press Institute reported that 58% have some confidence in the press as an institution.  Pew reported that 76% of adults have at least some trust in national news organizations, with an even higher number for local news.  People presuming the public has simply tuned out the media as untrustworthy should consider Gallup arguably is presenting the worst-case scenario for the media.

Moreover, the worst-case numbers from Gallup also show that trust in TV and newspapers has been in the low-to-mid-20s for almost a decade.  The steeper decline in trust among GOPers in this cycle does not much affect what has been a long-running trend of declining trust in the media.

Numbers like these matter primarily in the institutional sense.  They matter less directly in a political sense, insofar as you might use them to rate the job approval of some other collective body, like Congress.  From that perspective, there may be an analogy to the “I hate Congress, but like my Member of Congress” dynamic.

Indeed, liberals tend to trust establishment and more overtly liberal news sources, while generally distrusting conservative sources.  And vice versa.  People of “mixed” ideology tend to trust the liberal/establishment sources, though (unlike liberals) they also tend to trust Fox News.  And everyone tends to trust the Wall Street Journal (though one might argue its news coverage historically skews more to the left than its editorials might suggest).

When judging political fights between Pres. Obama and the GOP Congress, Big Media often liked to cite polls showing that people favored Obama, while not addressing the fact that Obama: (a) was elected nationally, while legislators are not; (b) Obama needed to be popular nationally, while legislators need only appeal to their constituents; and (c) the machinery of government and the media frames the President, not Congress, as the focus of political stories daily.

Similarly, when assessing the media as a political actor, it may be useful to remember that the media does not have the same demands as a president or a legislator, ratings are not the same as popularity, and criticism of the media is usually not as high-profile to the average viewer as media criticism of politicians.

In this political moment, however, Pres. Trump currently is in a very high-profile, heated battle with the media.  So how’s he doing?

In early February, Quinnipiac found that 57% of voters were at least somewhat concerned that Trump will try to limit the freedom of the press, while 42% are not so concerned.

A more recent Fox News poll found, on a 45-42% split (within the margin of error), more voters trust the Trump administration to “tell the public the truth” than the White House press corps.  The same poll found 55% percent say it’s better for the country if the media covers the president aggressively, while 38% say it would be better if reporters gave the president the benefit of the doubt.

The Fox poll also found that 71% think Trump should be more careful when he speaks, while only 28% like that he speaks his mind.

Keep in mind that the internal numbers on these questions generally have the partisan and ideological splits that you might expect.  I will say that the Fox numbers are better for Trump among independents than the toplines suggest, favoring Trump over the media by a 2-1 margin and split on whether the media should be aggressive.

OTOH, the internals also reflect the split between college-educated whites and whites without a degree that we saw in the election cycle and may be relevant to GOP officeholders who won with a different electoral map than Trump.

If you think the media coverage of Trump has been as bad as I do — and as unlikely to change in its fundamental bias, even if the media calms down somewhat — Trump basically matching the media for trustworthiness, the Trump numbers resting where you would expect for a base of GOP support (not much beyond that), and the lopsided majority who think Trump should speak more carefully should be concerning to Trump supporters.

The Trump White House seems to want Big Media to stand in as the opposition party (or make that status overt, if you will).  Fair enough.  But if Big Media even comes close to cleaning up its act, it may offer more formidable opposition than Hillary Clinton.

PS: Consider subscribing to WHRPT in the sidebar (the posts come straight to your inbox; no muss no fuss). And following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing!

Deep Concern About the Deep State

Blogging my ambivalence about the ouster of Mike Flynn as Pres. Trump’s national security adviser, I noted that one of the benefits of this little side blog is that I don’t have to have an immediate and firm conclusion about such things.

Accordingly, I read with great interest the pieces by Eli Lake and Damon Linker making the case that we should be deeply worried about the “Deep State” politically assassinating a public official in this manner.  These pieces were shared widely on social media by conservatives.  They make a forceful case, albeit one lacking in context.

At the outset, I should note my comments are not addressed to Lake or Linker, but to those in their audiences who seized on their arguments to declare that the leaks are the only “real” issue here.

Candidate Trump campaigned as a consistent critic of the intelligence community.  So much so, in fact, that political junkies openly joked about the likely blowback to Trump.  “The last POTUS to wage war against the IC was Nixon and we all know how that turned out.”  Ha ha ha.  The jokes were based on people knowing the Deep State will retaliate when attacked.

In this political moment, this observation — obvious to anyone interested months ago — is now taken by some as legitimizing politically motivated leaks.  This is, to put it mildly, hogwash.  When Pres. Trump notes the uptick in the homicide rate in major American cities, he’s not endorsing murder.  Political leaking isn’t necessarily right; it is foreseeable.

Indeed, we need not harken back to the bell-bottomed days of yore for an example.  On the eve of the 2016 election, there was a rather large flurry of politically-motivated leaks, primarily from Trump-friendly FBI agents upset that FBI director Comey declined to recommend espionage charges against Hillary Clinton, and that Justice Dept. officials allegedly stiff-armed their probe of the Clinton Foundation.  Fox News went so far as to report — and retract — a story that an indictment was likely to result from the FBI’s investigation.

The Right’s response to these leaks was not to express deep concern about the Deep State.  The reaction ranged between crickets and barely restrained glee.  Republicans generally were far more interested in whether the leaks were correct than whether they were proper.

I could suggest that this reaction on the Right helped legitimize political leaking far more than noting such leaks happen.  I could suggest that righties who have taken to dismissing any anti-Trump news based on anonymous sources largely seem to have been fine with news based on anonymous sources who were anti-Clinton.  I could note that righties didn’t torch Fox for that rather big piece of “fake news.”

OTOH, at the same time, I had an argument with a liberal journalist.  I contended that the progressives’ deep concern with the FBI leaks was largely a function of whose ox was being gored.  Those who know me should be able to look up that exchange without much difficulty.  This is not a new position for me.

I am concerned with political leaks, especially where national security concerns are involved.  I wrestle with where the lines should be drawn, in part because of the risk that my political priors will unduly influence my opinion on an issue that ideally should be beyond ideology or partisanship.

But given that such leaks are easily foreseeable, my question is why a candidate who didn’t pass up chances to bash the IC seems to have had no plan to reform the IC.  Was hiring Mike Flynn the plan?  If so, I can’t help but notice the Deep State got him ushered out of the White House in record time.  Literally.

If this sounds like blaming the victim to you, please note that Trump sits behind the Resolute desk.  He is not powerless.  Those truly and deeply concerned about the Deep State should demand action and reform instead of using their often newfound concerns to excuse the most powerful man in the world whining about how unfairly Mike Flynn was treated.

Or, to put it in the argumentum ad masculinum often favored by Trump’s biggest supporters, they should put on their big boy pants.

UpdateAccording to the NYT, Pres. Trump “plans to assign a New York billionaire to lead a broad review of American intelligence agencies, according to administration officials, an effort that members of the intelligence community fear could curtail their independence and reduce the flow of information that contradicts the president’s worldview.”  Trump picks a Friend of Stephen Bannon who has virtually zero natsec experience instead of his DNI-designate, Dan Coats.  I wonder how many people who had concerns about the Deep State yesterday will applaud this bold new stroke? (Yes, that’s partially sarcasm.)

PS: Consider subscribing to WHRPT in the sidebar (the posts come straight to your inbox; no muss no fuss). And following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading!