- The Washington Times
Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Though it often seems random and nonsensical, the world of negative politics and conniving news media is actually a strategic and calculating place. A new book explains much. On sale now, from investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson: “The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote,” from Harper Collins Publishers.

Americans are pretty suspicious already.


“They’re convinced that the truth is being hidden from them on a massive scale. That someone is manipulating what they see on the news and online. Conspiring to hide select facts and advance particular narratives. Colluding on plots to smear certain people,” Ms Attkisson writes.

“Their suspicions are correct, even if their notion of truth is often confused. In fact, the confusion is often by grand design,” she says, noting that while the “smear business” has been building for two decades, it’s now reached some kind of hair-raising zenith.

Ms. Attkisson, who also hosts the syndicated Sunday talk show “Full Measure,” recently compared her findings with Katerina Matsa, a Pew Research Center analyst who also delved into partisan politics and a troubled press.

“In the early days of the Trump administration, what did you learn about whether Americans feel that news media criticism of political leaders is productive, or not productive?” Ms. Attkisson asked her guest.

“That was one of the widest gaps that we saw between Republicans and Democrats, basically on the media as watchdog, or what we say is the watchdog role,” Ms. Matsa replied. “Nearly 90 percent of Democrats say news media criticism serves to keep leaders in line. But less than half of Republicans — 42 percent — say the same.”

She noted that in early 2016, support for the media’s watchdog role was about the same among Democrats (74 percent) and Republicans (77 percent.)

‘HAMBURGER DIPLOMACY’

“If Trump wants to avoid a missile crisis, he may have to invite Kim Jong-un to the White House,” writes Kim Sengupta, a defense correspondent for The Independent who made his observations Tuesday following North Korea’s unsettling test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile from mobile equipment.

“Pyongyang’s key aim has always been to have direct bilateral talks with the U.S., something that successive administrations in Washington have steadfastly refused,” Mr. Sengupta continued.

“During his presidential election campaign Trump had stated that he would be prepared to receive Kim Jong-un in Washington and ‘have hamburgers with him — What the hell is wrong with speaking? And you know what? It’s called opening a dialogue.’ Trump was derided across the American political spectrum, but North Korea’s state media praised him as ‘a very wise politician,’” Mr. Sengupta later concluded. “Now, with the military option seemingly off the table, and economic sanctions having little impact, Trump may well find that ‘hamburger diplomacy’ is the way to fulfill his pledge that North Korea will not have nuclear missiles which can hit America.”

A GRETA UPDATE

Greta Van Susteren, who recently departed her prime time anchor perch at MSNBC, is still tweeting with vigor as she sorts out her options. The former Fox News anchor, who spent 15 years at the network, is candidly answering public questions from her 1.1 million followers, worrying about her former staffers, raising money for a children’s charity and very gently plugging her new book, due in November.

One fan suggested that she go to work for PBS.

Her tweeted reply: “I don’t think they have openings. I confess, I would love to do specials for them.”

FOR THE LEXICON

“The Senate Goldilocks Committee.”

That’s a snappy new term suggested by David Catron, a health care consultant and contributor to The American Spectator.

“There are precisely nine people standing between you and emancipation from Obamacare’s most reviled and destructive provisions. They consist of an ideologically motley crew of Republican senators who refuse to support the Better Health Care Act (BCRA) of 2017 unless the GOP leadership accedes to demands that are probably procedurally or politically impossible to meet,” Mr. Catron advises his readers.

“We’ll call them the Goldilocks Caucus because their positions on BCRA are all variations of the ‘too soft, too hard’ principle. Each has stated that, if the final version of the bill isn’t ‘just right,’ they will leave you to the tender mercies of Obamacare.”

ONE FOR SCALIA

Not everything is in turmoil in the academic world. Harvard Law School announced this week that it has established the Antonin Scalia Professorship of Law, in recognition of the “historic tenure” of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who graduated from the school in 1960.

“Justice Scalia had a singular impact on statutory analysis and legal thought. He also had a great love of learning, so it is especially meaningful that he will be honored with a professorship that will provide enduring support for teaching and scholarship at the law school and beyond,” observes Martha Minow, dean of the school and a professor at the campus.

The new professorship was endowed by the Denver-based Considine Family Foundation.

“It is wholly appropriate that Justice Scalia’s accomplishments, intellectual legacy, and dedication to the founding principles of the United States Constitution be recognized at Harvard Law School, his beloved alma mater,” says Terry Considine, a 1971 graduate of the school who co-founded the foundation with his wife, Betsy Considine.

POLL DU JOUR

• 60 percent of Americans trust the intelligence community, “such as the CIA and FBI”; 59 percent of Republican, 54 percent of independents and 72 percent of Democrats agree.

• 60 percent overall trust “the courts”; 58 percent of Republican, 55 percent of independents and 66 percent of Democrats agree.

• 50 percent overall trust that “elections are fair”; 72 percent of Republicans, 50 percent of independents and 42 percent of Democrats agree.

• 37 percent overall trust “the Trump administration“; 84 percent of Republican, 28 percent of independents and 8 percent of Democrats agree.

• 35 percent overall trust public opinion polls; 28 percent of Republican, 34 percent of independents and 50 percent of Democrats agree.

• 30 percent overall trust the news media; 9 percent of Republican, 28 percent of independents and 56 percent of Democrats agree.

• Source: An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll of 1,205 U.S. adults conducted June 21-25 and released Tuesday.

• Murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com


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