Category Archives: Media Watch

Why the end of the Trump Shutdown is good for Democrats

National Park closures during 2013 government shutdown

Today, Senate Democrats and Republicans agreed to end the federal government shutdown (known as the “Trump Shutdown”) and keep government running until February 8, by which time Congress hopes to vote on a new long-term spending bill. In return for their agreement, Democrats got a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that Congressional Republicans had let expire last September. Furthermore, the agreement includes a promise by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on codifying the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which Donald Trump ended last September. The agreement can be seen as a net win for Democrats, and they should portray it as such.

Democratic framing guru says stop talking about Trump’s tweets

Thinking about Twitter

This blog was founded on the principles of Dr. George Lakoff, former Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and the sometimes official, sometimes unofficial messaging and framing guru of the Democratic Party. Last November, we covered an intriguing question Lakoff raised in his blog: “Why are you a Democrat?” Therefore, we are especially interested in Lakoff’s recent piece, where he tells Democrats to stop sharing, repeating and talking about Donald Trump‘s tweets.

2018 brings calls for Democrats to focus on winning Congressional elections

U.S. Senate under Republican control

2018 has begun, and it is an election year. While so-called “off-year” (Congressional, state and local, but not presidential) elections often garner disappointingly low voter turnout on the Democratic side, calls have already emerged for Democrats to focus, and work hard, on winning back one or the other houses of Congress, or both. For example, yesterday, progressive website Crooks and Liars published a piece entitled: Take Back The House In 2018, But Don’t Forget The Senate! At the same time, former Nixon White House counsel John Dean tweeted:

Both of these suggestions, focusing primarily on the House or the Senate, have merit.

NBC’s Kasie Hunt blames “both sides” for problems in Washington, gets slammed

Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison and colleagues demonstrating against GOP government shutdown in 2013.

Today, Kasie Hunt of NBC News took to Twitter to blame “both sides” for the current mess in Washington, including another potential federal government shutdown. Here’s Hunt’s tweet:

Almost immediately, Hunt got slammed on Twitter by many people who all had essentially the same reaction. Here are a few samples, including one from Messaging Matters:

Alabama Senate victory shows Democrats they must work harder

Roy Moore rides off into the sunset

Last Tuesday, Democratic candidate Doug Jones won a stunning upset over Republican Roy Moore in the Alabama U.S. Senate special election. Jones’ win was remarkable given that this Senate seat went over 97 percent for Republican incumbent Jeff Sessions (who early this year left to become U.S. Attorney General in the Donald Trump administration) the last time it was contested in 2014. The Democrats did not even field a challenger to Sessions that time. There were several keys to Jones’ victory, each of which shows that the Democrats can beat the Republicans at the voting booth, if they work extra hard on several fronts:

Is Donald Trump preparing us for the release of a very naughty tape?

Suspected Trump/Russia connections

Donald Trump has spent much of this year attacking mainstream (non-Murdoch) news media outlets, calling them “fake news.” The term apparently means real news that isn’t flattering to Trump. This can be seen as a strategy to influence us not to believe what we see, hear and read, unless it comes from a pro-Trump media outlet like Fox News. But now Trump seems to have taken his propaganda strategy one step further: he is saying that the Access Hollywood” tape released in October 16, in which Trump tells host Billy Bush that he likes to “just start kissing women” and “grab them by the pu*sy. You can do anything” is not authentic. What’s going on?

Instead of getting distracted, drive the narrative

 

Puerto Rico devastation from Hurricane Maria

Back in February 2011, we published Messaging Maxim #1: Go On Offense. Perhaps some folks need a refresher course. In that post, we wrote, “If you’re fighting a political battle on the other side’s rhetorical turf, you’ve already lost.” At the time, such advice was referring to phony cultural issues like “Ground Zero Mosque” and “is President Obama a Muslim?” that Republicans had ginned up and repeated everywhere they could (see Messaging Maxim #2: Rinse and Repeat). With their herd mentality, the mainstream media then picked up these issues and focused their broadcasts, cablecasts and column space on them.

Fast forward to today. Donald Trump and the Republicans are doing the same thing again, and it’s working. Currently, the phony cultural issues are: “Kneeling NFL Players” and “Harvey Weinstein.” To those, you can add, “NBC and CNN Licenses.” By next week, expect different cultural issues.

Right wing Twitter bots posing as attractive women

Orange-helping fembots

If you search Twitter for “John Kelly” (White House Chief of Staff) to find out the latest on rumors of his possible resignation, you may stumble upon tweet after tweet indicating “John Kelly Reveals Why He Didn’t Wear a US Flag Pin During Confirmation.” Here’s an example:

Checking out some of these tweets, you will find that nearly every one was posted by an attractive-looking white woman, according to their profiles. Moreover, many such profiles were nearly identical, often indicating “Wife,” “Mom,” “Animal Lover,” “Patriot,” “Middle Class Trump Supporter,” etc. And even more creepy is that, besides the tweet about Kelly and the flag pin, many of these accounts have identical tweets down the line, in the same order, including “Lying Liberal Media is 92% Negative Against President Trump,” “RNC Chairwoman RIPS Michelle Obama’s Claim GOP is ‘ALL WHITE MEN,’” “BREAKING: Senate Intel Committee BLASTS Media for FAKE Russia News,” and the like. Furthermore, many of the posted stories come from “reportsecret.com.” When you search for that outlet, you get a 404 Error. Other links go to truthfeednews.com, which does exist, and it is some conservative publication. Their Kelly post didn’t criticize Kelly directly, but it did say this:

Ever since Barack Obama’s disastrous presidency, the American flag has been under an all-out assault.

NFL athletes routinely disrespect our flag, as do Hollywood celebrities, far-left denizens, and Democrat politicians.

In fact, many Democrat politicians make a point of choosing to not wear an American flag pin on their jackets, a subtle snub to our country and to those who are patriotic.

Here are a few more examples of the profiles found and some of the tweets in question:

Social media coverage of Hurricane Harvey brings Americans together

Driver receives assistance in Pearland, TX during Hurricane Harvey

This past weekend, Twitter and Facebook posts about the Mayweather-McGregor fight gave way to posts about Hurricane Harvey making landfall in Texas, and causing tremendous flooding devastation. Since then, as more traditional media such as broadcast and cable TV news are making admirable efforts on the scene with live reporting (and even some rescue work), social media users are sending around gobs of information, donation and volunteering tips, and rescue requests. Here are some of the highlights of social media activity in Houston, around the U.S. and in other countries as well:

Donald Trump’s war with the press

White House protest the day after FBI Director James Comey was fired

White House protest the day after FBI Director James Comey was fired

After a disastrous week for Donald Trump and his White House, with ever-changing stories about Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, Trump tweeted on Friday that he may discontinue White House daily press briefings. This follows a series of disturbing incidents exhibiting shabby Trump administration treatment of the national news media, including:

  • Banning The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, Politico, BuzzFeed, the BBC and the Guardian from press briefings.
  • Ejecting Andrea Mitchell of NBC News from State Department events where she tried to ask questions.
  • Repeatedly referring to the mainstream news media as “fake news” whenever they report on real stories that are unflattering to the Trump administration, especially the investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.
  • Having a reporter arrested after he asked questions at Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price at the West Virginia state Capitol.
  • Cutting off veteran reporter April Ryan, who is a black woman, and telling her, “stop shaking your head” while she was asking a question in the White House Press Room.