The Biggest Media Meltdowns of September
1. The return of the single-payer deficit trolls.
With a surge in support among congressional Democrats for single payer, or Medicare-for-all, comes the inevitable hand-wringing by centrist Democrats and center-right pundits worried about “deficits.” As luck would have it, weeks after high-profile 2020 hopefuls Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand joined Sen. Bernie Sanders’ call for single payer, Congress casually and without fanfare increased the Defense Department’s budget 13 percent, or by a whopping $81 billion.
To put it in perspective, this is the equivalent of the federal government creating more than four NASAs overnight and this is just on the Pentagon’s budget increase. At $81 billion, the federal government could have covered the tuition of every public college student in the country ($70 billion) for 2017-2018 and still have $11 billion left over to cover every Americans’ overdraft banking fees. It’s an ungodly amount of money just thrown out there without an ounce of public discussion. No cable news yelling. No nightly news programing. No front-page stories on the massive costs. No opinion section back and forth. The Defense Department just created the equivalent of 32 new National Park Services and no one cares.
All of the outlets, from the Washington Post to New York Times to Vox to CNN, that lamented and worried about Bernie Sanders’ tax bill on health care and free college suddenly had nothing to say about the biggest military budget increase since just after 9/11. Strange, it’s almost as if no one actually cares about deficits.
2. Ex-CNN host righteously calls current CNN host an ‘idiot’ (he is).
How Chris Cillizza has a job writing about politics is something of a mystery. His sole purpose in life appears to be saying the most fatuous and obvious statements possible while managing never to offend CNN’s target demographic of low-information-business-guys-stuck-in-airports.
Saturday, after Trump went on a racist, unhinged rant in Alabama lashing out at NFL players for protesting white supremacy, Cillizza responded to this breaking story with his patented wit: “The key to understanding Trump: He likes people who like him. He hates people who don’t like him. That’s it.”
Trump likes people he likes and who also like him and hates people he hates who also hate him. What would normally be another fart-in-the-wind non-insight from Cillizza quickly turned into a hilarious Twitter burn when former CNN host Soledad O’Brien responded with this dunk:
Cillizza got pissy and linked to his followup article limply criticizing Trump. But the damage was done. The most owned man on Twitter was humiliated by someone just enough in the club to make the punch land, but far enough out of the club to state the simple truth.
3. Valerie Plame shares anti-Semitic conspiracy, tries to play it off.
Another Twitter disaster, not funny but rather sad and disgusting. Former CIA agent-turned-anti-Bush heroine Valerie Plame tweeted out a story accusing “Americans Jews” of “driving America’s wars”:
Understandably, a Twitter pile-on commenced, but Plame kept doubling down.
Eventually she realized she wasn’t going to “I’m 1/47th Jewish” her way out of the controversy and eventually issued a rambling apology. Alas, her “I missed the gross undercurrents to this article” (that clearly blame Jews for all American wars) defense didn’t cut it and she was ultimately forced to resign from the progressive grantmaking foundation Ploughshares Fund.
4. Shep Smith calls out right-wing lies on Colin Kaepernick, shocks liberal media.
Fox News host Shepard Smith—despite still collecting a check from an unquestionably evil organization—is good for railing against Fox News orthodoxy every now and then and creating a bit of viral to-do. This past July he went on an inspired rant against Donald Trump Jr. for his Russia dealings. In 2012, he criticized his network for airing a suicide live and in 2009 blasted Fox News’ unhinged viewers for sending racist birther emails. And my personal favorite, in 2011, he completely lost it on a Florida state lawmaker for pushing a reactionary bill that made no sense (seriously, watch it, it’s hilarious).
As Media Matters highlighted, Shep Smith had another off-brand moment Monday afternoon when he called out Trump for lying about the motives of Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players’ protest against police violence and white supremacy.
It’s a strange sight. Shep’s correspondent does her best to stay on script, but when Shep goes rogue he goes rogue.
5. Why is the Washington Post still paying Ed Rogers to promote his clients’ wares?
Evergreen embarrassment, Trump hype man, D.C. lobbyist and Washington Post columnist Ed Rogers has a long history of not disclosing his orgy of conflicts and when he does, doing so in a hamfisted and embarrassing manner. From pushing Raytheon missiles while collecting its checks, to running PR for Trump’s Saudi Arabia trip while depositing a cool $500,000 from the Gulf regime, to dismissing climate change while openly shilling for oil firms, Rogers is the most transparently corrupt writer in America, which is saying something.
Not to be outdone by his latest embarrassing conflict, Rogers wrote a lengthy defense of the GOP’s recent Obamacare repeal, Cassidy-Graham, which basically no one likes. Left unmentioned is that Rogers’ lobbying firm, RGB, represents dozens of groups and corporations heavily invested in removing government regulations. Rogers’ clients include GlaxoSmithKline, Senior Care Pharmacy Alliance, Lifecare Hospitals, Merck & Co, Eli Lilly, Neurocrine Biosciences and a whole host of corporations and trade groups with a stake in keeping drugs and medical costs as high as possible.
Does the Post feel the need to disclose this glaring conflict of interest? Nope, just another lobbyist shilling for his corporate clients under the guise of a staff columnist. A totally normal day at the Washington Post.
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