Friday, November 16, 2018

A Trump Favorite

Maria Ricardel, forced out as deputy national security adviser by First Lady Melania Trump after a tiff about seating arrangements on a flight to Africa, reportedly has rejected an offer to become the  USA ambassador to Estonia. One journalist responded
There is serious competition, including but not limited to, Mexico, Germany, France, and our own USA for this honored position.  However, it soon may become clear what is President Trump's favorite nation and- in an upset- it's not Russia. The Washington Post reported Thursday

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor released the findings of a long-awaited investigation of the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Thursday, saying that a team of Saudi agents dispatched to Istanbul with orders to bring him home alive had instead killed the journalist and dismembered his body.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince had no knowledge of the operation, Shaalan al-Shaalan, a spokesman for the prosecutor, said at a news conference in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

This is- to use two abused and misused terms- unbelievable, or at least incredible.

There are numerous reasons President Trump likes the House of Saud, among which are that  Riyadh is investing billions of dollars in American companies. It supports Jared Kushner's push for a deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Saudi Arabia has agreed to buy tens of billions of dollars in armaments from the USA, all the better to continue its crusade against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen. (Thirteen million Yemenis are now in danger of starvation there, but that's only gravy to Trump.) Additionally, it is a despotic, Wahabbist monarchy, pleasing to the USA's would-be imperial autocrat who himself derives his most fervent support at home from theocrats.  And it treats journalists, such as the late Mr. Khashoggi, very, very badly. So much so, in fact that NBC News notes

The White House is looking for ways to remove an enemy of Turkish President Recep Erdogan from the U.S. in order to placate Turkey over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to two senior U.S. officials and two other people briefed on the requests.

Trump administration officials last month asked federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways of removing exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen in an attempt to persuade Erdogan to ease pressure on the Saudi government, the four sources said.

The effort includes directives to the Justice Department and FBI that officials reopen Turkey's case for his extradition, as well as a request to the Homeland Security Department for information about his legal status, the four people said.

They said the White House specifically wanted details about Gulen's residency status in the U.S. Gulen has a Green Card, according to two people familiar with the matter. He has been living in Pennsylvania since the late 1990s.

Therefore, we read, quite sensibly, from the deputy editorial page editor of The Washington Post

This new Saudi account is completely implausible on its face. It contradicts numerous established facts about the case. Now we’ll see if the Trump administration gets behind it.

— Jackson Diehl (@JacksonDiehl) November 15, 2018

Evidently, the push to sacrifice Gulen to appease Erdogan and cut the Saudis a huge break has been stymied by bureaucrats. "Career officials at the agencies," Bloomberg reports, "pushed back on the White House requests" and a senior US official remarked "once they realized it was a serious request, the career guys were furious."

It's conceivable, therefore, that the White House won't support the Saudi account of Khashoggi's murder. There still are some career, non-political employees in the Trump Administration, people who put principle over politics and country over personal privilege. But there also is Donald Trump, and he's not any of that.

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

No. No Office.

Anne Fearan, Josh Dawsey, and Emily Heil of The Washington Post provide the boring, albeit necessary, background:

A transoceanic personnel crisis that engulfed the National Security Council this week is partly rooted in a bureaucratic dispute over the seating arrangements aboard first lady Melania Trump’s plane to Africa last month during her maiden solo trip abroad.

As the East Wing prepared the flight manifest for the marquee trip, deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel became angry that seats on the first lady’s government jet were assigned to a larger-than-usual security entourage and a small press corps with none for Ricardel or another NSC staffer, according to current U.S. officials and others familiar with the trip and its aftermath.

 Policy experts from the NSC and State Department were advised to fly separately and to meet the first lady’s party on the ground, a practice the State Department had often used, but Ricardel objected strenuously, those people said. She threatened to revoke NSC resources associated with the trip, meaning no policy staff would advise the first lady during her visits to Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Egypt.

Bad blood between Ricardel and Melania Trump and her staff continued for weeks after the trip, with the first lady privately arguing that the NSC’s No. 2 official was a corrosive influence in the White House and should be dismissed. But national security adviser John Bolton rebuffed the first lady and protected his deputy, prompting the first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, to issue an extraordinary statement to reporters Tuesday effectively calling for Ricardel’s firing.

This may be a personality dispute or someone overstepping her bounds, fairly routine vices.  Somehow, however, "the first lady's spokeswoman" became

“It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” Grisham said of Ricardel in the statement.

After an uncomfortable day of limbo, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced Wednesday evening that Ricardel was leaving the White House.

The "Office of the First Lady?"  The reporters continue

Soon after the first lady’s office issued its statement Tuesday, surprised senior White House aides walked to Ricardel’s office to see whether she was still there. She was, albeit confused....

A senior White House official said the first lady believed Ricardel was spreading false rumors about her office, including a misleading story that aides had arranged a $10,000 hotel stay in Egypt. Other White House aides said Ricardel belittled underlings, shouted at professional staff and was the most disliked aide in the West Wing.

Last weekend, according to administration officials, the first lady’s office again asked Bolton to oust Ricardel. Others, including Kelly, have wanted her gone for months, administration officials said, with little success in overcoming Bolton’s objections.

There is no Office of the First Lady. This website explains

From 1975 until the present day -- that is, from Betty Ford to Laura Bush -- women in the White House rekindled their interest in policy with a zeal unseen since Eleanor Roosevelt. In particular, Hillary Clinton advanced the policy-making aspect of first ladyship with her appointment to the task force committee for health care reform.

The "Office of the First Lady" is not mentioned in the US Constitution, nor does it seem to have been foreseen by the Founders. It has not been enacted legislatively, nor has it been the subject of any Executive Order. 

There is no mention of anything authorizing an "Office of the First Lady," probably because there is nothing authorizing such an office.

Some constitutional scholars- but especially politicians- once boasted of being "strict constructionists" and many conservatives similarly exhibited horror at "waste, fraud, and abuse."  There once also were (alleged) opponents of "big government."

Yet, no one on the right, nor any one on the anti-President Trump left, has uttered a word about this office  It is, then, relatively courageous that the Post reporters- probably going as far as their editor would approve- point out

Martha Washington, historian Carl Sferrazza Anthony noted, once wrote that she felt like a “state prisoner” because of protocol rules and a schedule set in part by her husband’s chief adviser, Tobias Lear. And there was no love lost between Mary Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln’s chief counselors, John Hay and John Nicolay, who referred to her as “the hellcat” behind her back.

Pat Nixon, Anthony says, chafed at top White House aides H.R. “Bob” Haldeman and John Erlichman for perceived offenses that included not giving her enough notice before travel and for not taking her ambitious agenda seriously, Anthony said.

“It goes back so far that what we’re really talking about is human nature and the problem of the boss’s wife,” he said.

Melania Trump has taken on a more public role recently, launching her anti-bullying campaign earlier this year and traveling to Africa in October.

Notably, there is no mention of anything creating an "Office" with a capital "O." In this instance, assertive behavior of the First Lady is a wise strategic maneuver, given that the GOP was recently shellacked by female voters and is generally seen as fairly hostile to women's issues.

The spouse of the President of the United States of America always will have a role. She (or he) can influence the President through "pillow talk" or in any manner they wish.. However, the First Lady is neither elected nor appointed and the designation of staff as comprising an "office" comes out of thin air, wasteful and extra-constitutional.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Problem Of A Different Sort

Two days after the mid-terms, the Daily Beast reported

“I think he’s a fantastic politician in the best sense of the word,” (Bernie) Sanders said of Gillum. “He stuck to his guns in terms of a progressive agenda. I think he ran a great campaign. And he had to take on some of the most blatant and ugly racism that we have seen in many, many years. And yet he came within a whisker of winning.”

However, Sanders conceded also "I think you know there are a lot of white folks out there who are not necessarily racist who felt uncomfortable for the first time in their lives about whether or not they wanted to vote for an African-American."

Having failed to label multitudes of white voters as "racist," the naughty Senator brought down upon himself a torrent of Twitter criticism, including "not feeling comfortable voting for a black person because they’re black indeed means that person is racist;" "Folks have to stop excusing racism/sexism as a means of normalization in hopes not to hurt the perpetrators feelings;" and "What do you call a person who is uncomfortable voting for a Black person? A RACIST."

In response to a fellow tweeting out a January, 2015 Washington Post article entitled "Sherrod Brown: Why aren't progressives begging him to run for president?"Jill Filipovic ( though right about this and this), unaware of the buzz surrounding senators Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, contends

No shade to Sherrod, but can we see more of these articles about women (especially the many qualified women of color on the Dem bench) and more discussion of female candidates as presidential hopefuls? The midterms showed us who votes Dem, and it's not white men.

Then in equal parts disturbing and predictable

Nancy Pelosi is making gender a central part of her bid to reclaim the speaker’s gavel — leaning hard into the pitch that Democrats cannot oust the only woman at their leadership table following a historic election for women.

In addition to arguing she’s the best qualified for the job, the California Democrat and her allies are also framing a Pelosi victory as a matter of protecting political progress for women at a critical moment. Push her out, and men may take over the party at a time when more than 100 women are heading to Capitol Hill and after female voters have been thoroughly alienated by President Donald Trump. Embrace her, and she’ll prioritize legislation empowering women on issues ranging from equal pay to anti-harassment legislation.

This sentiment, assessing an individual's value on the basis of the inherited characteristics of race and gender, is pervasive but all too infrequently acknowledged. This past Monday, Slate's Jordan Weissman wrote that newly re-elected Ohio senator Sherrod Brown

isn’t the only candidate who needs to make this sort of tough calculation. Instead of running for president, Beto O’Rourke could try to go after Texas Sen. John Cornyn’s seat in 2020. Montana Governor Steve Bullock might be interested in the Oval Office. But he might be be more useful taking on on Republican Sen. Steve Daines. West Virginia’s Richard Ojeda, who went so far as to announce his presidential bid on Monday after losing his House bid last week, might do better to try to knock off Sen. Shelley Moore Capito. But with Brown, the tension is a bit more clear, both because he’s such a compelling presidential candidate on paper, and because winning the presidency would actually guarantee that his Senate seat flipped, rather than simply remain in Republican hands.

There are also other reasons why Brown might not be an ideal Democratic standard bearer. He’s loudly sided with Trump on trade issues, which may be a big part of his secret to winning in Ohio, but might not play well with progressive primary voters who loathe pretty much all things about the administration. And while his Republican opponent failed to make much of an old domestic abuse allegation, that issue could play awkwardly on the national stage. (The issue involve some nonspecific accusations made by Brown’s ex-wife during their divorce in the 1980s. She has since become one of his most vocal political supporters, and cut a TV ad for him this year after Republicans tried to revive abuse claim during the campaign).

But ultimately, the question hanging over Brown isn’t whether he’s a good candidate, or even a great one. It’s whether he’s so much better than the other 2020 contenders that it would be worth waving his Senate seat goodbye.

Nonetheless, were Brown to be nominated and elected, he would be president, a rather more important office than senator.  Were he not elected- or not even nominated- he would remain a US Senator, no harm done.

Moreover, Weissman's inclusion of Richard Ojeda, now holding no political office, and of Beto O'Rourke, now holding no political office after his defeat by Ted Cruz, suggests that his concern may be motivated by more than concern of Brown's seat being taken by a Republican. 

It may be that Weissman is feeling a touch of that sentiment held by Filipovic, some Pelosi supporters, and members of the Twittersphere who find Bernie Sanders is insufficiently critical of voters who vote against a black candidate.

Sherrod Brown is a white male.  No Democrat (or Republican), and that includes an estimable senator from the nation's heartland, can be elected President without first being nominated for the office. While Weissman's article is entitled "The Really Obvious Problem With Sherrod Brown Running for President," the really obvious problem for Brown is demographic, and one he is powerless to change.

Following the 2016 elections, Senator Sanders asserted

It is not good enough for somebody to say "I'm a woman, vote for me." No, that's not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the  drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry. In other words, one of the struggles that you're going to see in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics.

"Crushing truths perish from being acknowledged," Albert Camus once noted. Whether the Party goes beyond "identity politics," it shouldn't be prohibitively difficult for the left and journalists (such as Weissman) sympathetic to a Democratic agenda to concede, openly and clearly, the role that gender and race play in the Party.

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Monday, November 12, 2018


He's just not that into you.

Oh, it has been obvious for some time now.   There was that time in July, 2015 that Donald Trump claimed that John McCain is "not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”  However, maybe that was only a slam at John McCain, provoked by the fear of a comparison between the Senator's war record and his own history of five draft deferments.

Fifteen months later, he perpetuated a stigma when he remarked "When people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over and you're strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can't handle it." Yet, he did at the same time advocate improved mental health for veterans.

That same month, an interview with Howard Stern was unearthed in which Trump crowed "I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world, it is a dangerous world out there. It’s like Vietnam, sort of. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave solider." But that was ancient history, nearly twenty years earlier.

Faced with rain, Trump on Saturday skipped a Veterans Day commemoration at Aisne Marne American Cemetery, where many American soldiers killed in World War I are buried. On Sunday, he "chose not to walk side-by-side with other world leaders at another event Sunday, choosing instead to take his motorcade down an empty Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomph, rather than showing unity with the other heads of state."  Yet, a photo with other leaders of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance may have imperiled his job evaluation with President Putin, so he deserves some slack.

Now the President has decided to skip the Veterans Day commemoration at Arlington National Cemetery.  However, it is not only deceased veterans who annoy him. He has tweeted

Federal law permits voters who are overseas, many of them soldiers, to submit ballots after election day. In Florida, those ballots are not due until Friday. And Donald Trump wants them not to be counted.

President Trump believes many ballots from overseas are illegitimate. He believes also that prisoners of war are not heroes, avoiding sexually transmitted diseases is as courageous as fighting in foreign wars, commemorating the American war dead is unnecessary in rain, and ballots from soldiers are suspect.

If your name were Kushner, or you were an attractive daughter of his, or were himself, he wouldn't be holding out a sign reading "I find you contemptible." But it's not, and he is.

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Historically Literate

The Day of Jubilee has arrived- or so it must have, because racial bias and misogyny have disappeared from American life and politics.

We have it on no less an authority than National Review's senior political correspondent, Jim Geraghty. Last month TIME's Molly Ball and Alana Abramson reported

But when it comes to the party’s presidential nominee in 2020, Avenatti thinks in different terms. “I think it better be a white male,” he says. He hastens to add that he wishes it weren’t so, but it’s undeniable that people listen to white men more than they do others; it’s why he’s been successful representing Daniels and immigrant mothers, he says. “When you have a white male making the arguments, they carry more weight,” he says. “Should they carry more weight? Absolutely not. But do they? Yes.”

Shamelessly (the GOP way), Geraghty responded

Besides shameless and self-serving — par for the course for Avenatti — his argument is historically illiterate. We just had a two-term African-American president! Women have been elected to statewide offices in 49 out of the 50 states. The holdout is that notorious bastion of right-wing misogyny . . . er, Vermont. Forty states have elected minorities to statewide office. The electorate didn’t have a problem with a woman president. The electorate had a problem with that particular woman as president.

Well, of course it's self-serving.  But it is not historically illiterate.

In late October, 2012 Geraghty predicted Mitt Romney would win the popular vote for president and stated it’s also relatively rare for a candidate to win the popular vote and lose the Electoral College. Although I'm unable to confirm it, he appears to have voted twice against presidential nominee Obama. It's fascinating how many individuals who believe Barack Obama's election proved the USA has banished racism chose not to vote for that individual.

I'm less impressed than is Geraghty that after roughly 240 years of a representative democracy, we now have elected women and minorities to statewide office nearly everywhere. Moreover, the exclusion of any female president requires Geraghty to demonstrate that the defeat of Hillary Clinton was completely unrelated to her gender, especially given her emphasis on "breaking the glass ceiling."

Still, the most loathsome portion of Geraghty's claim is that the argument that electing a black as president is a tough slog is "historically illiterate."

Yes, Barack Obama was elected President ten years ago. However, more recently came the nomination by the Republican Party, and election to President, of a guy who built his political career on birtherism, denying that the black President, whose election is claimed to have unshackled us from the curse of racism, had not been born in the USA, hence an illegitimate President. As President, he has continued attacks prompted by animosity toward minorities.

When he launched his presidential campaign, Donald Trump notably referred to Mexican immigrants as "rapists." Time after time candidate Trump made remarks which were ethnically biased, which included one which the usually sycophantic Paul Ryan referred to as "the textbook definition of a racist comment."

“Whoa,” another voice said.

“I did try and f--- her. She was married,” Trump says.

Trump continues: “And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’”

“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married,” Trump says. “Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”

At that point in the audio, Trump and Bush appear to notice Arianne Zucker, the actress who is waiting to escort them into the soap-opera set.

“Your girl’s hot as s---, in the purple,” says Bush, who’s now a co-host of NBC’s “Today” show.

“Whoa!” Trump says. “Whoa!”

“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

“Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently Bush’s.

“Grab them by the p---y,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

So let's review. After nearly eight years of GOP rule, dring a period of great economic crisis following a disastrous war, a black Democrat is elected President.  Eight years later, propelled by distrust of immigrants and of racial minorities, an unabashed bigot and proud perpetrator of sexual assault who had denounced the black man is elected President.

This invalidates, in the mind of a prominent National Review journalist, Michael Avenatti's claim that a nominee who is white and male has the best chance of being elected President in 2020. This argument does not make Jim Geraghty himself racist, misogynistic, or sexist. It makes him despicably dishonest.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Submit To What?

Politico's Rebecca Morin writes

 During a rant on Friday about CNN reporter Jim Acosta, President Donald Trump turned to another reporter, April Ryan.

"You talk about somebody that's a loser," Trump said of Ryan, a White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks who is African American. "She doesn't know what the hell she's doing."

During the gaggle in front of the White House, Trump continued to criticize reporters and went after another reporter of color.

“What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question," he told CNN reporter Abby Phillip after she asked if Trump wants Whitaker to "rein in Mueller."

"But I watch you a lot, you ask a lot of stupid questions," the president continued to Phillip before turning away and refusing to answer the question.

Journalists, media groups and academics immediately started speaking up, saying the remarks revealed a bifurcated approach between how the president treats white reporters and those who are women or people of color, including PBS NewsHour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, with whom he also quarrelled this week. While the president insults many journalists, these critics say his barbs targeting women and people of color feel especially sharp, and hit at the reporter's basic intelligence and competence as a person. It's a tone that black reporters and scholars of African-American history say particularly stings, given that African-Americans journalists were not allowed into the White House until 1947 — and that the White House press corps remains overwhelmingly white to this day.

Morin adds "Press advocates worried, though, that Trump might bar these reporters from the White House if they continued to hit him with tough questions."

Nonetheless, they must persist. On Friday we were reminded by a New York Times columnist

Another NYT columnist, Bret Stephens. made a couple of insightful remarks on Friday evening's "RealTime with Bill Maher" but unwisely commented

Also, it's so important not to be baited by every tweet because Trump is playing the press and that is his skill. You talked about- Sarah talked about him as the ideal 8-year-old. I see him as the cunning 12-year-old- and maybe that's the subject for debate- but he's the classic 8th grade bully. He knows exactly where to poke someone one where it hurts.

McCain said something so smart before he died. You can't be the car alarm that's constantly going off Pick your battles. Pick them wisely.

(It would have been even more impressive if McCain said something so smart after he died. Anyway, notwithstanding the late Senator's integrity, taking advice on strategy from someone who selected Sarah Palin as his running-mate may not be wise.)

And Bob Woodward, before making an excellent recommendation about one news organization building on the report of another, contended

But I think that we're taking the bail in the press and Trump is just throwing it out on that table and saying, you know, "you're the enemy of the people" and then we get all steamy and emotionally unhinged about it.

Trump probably is playing the press in some manner. However, unless the media is willing to ignore all of the President's tweets, rallies, and news conferences- which won't happen- it would have to make some uncomfortable choices.

Stephen's remark came at the close of a week in which the President singled out with criticism or ridicule three black female reporters.  Unlike other groups- including veterans and Christian believers- whom Donald Trump has belittled, black women are not going to roll over and ask for some more.

This past week has seen the Democratic Party's triumph in statehouses, state legislatures, and the U.S. House, the GOP's post-election voter suppression, and the attacks on the three black women. Meanwhile, there has been relatively little outrage over an incident in which: the President denounced a White House correspondent; an intern physically snatched a microphone from the correspondent; White House credentials of the reporter were revoked; and the President's press secretary circulated a doctored video purporting to show that the reporter assaulted the intern.

Of course, President Trump will continue to retaliate against reporters who ask him tough questions.  "For a coup to work," Maher stated Friday, "it is first necessary for truth itself to be destroyed, as well as the people who try to report it so the dictator is free to say anything and his followers believe it."

So those who believe the press generally, or White House correspondents specifically, should hesitate before responding aggressively to Donald Trump's antics need to come clean. Patting themselves on the back for recognizing Trump's strategic manipulation, press and pundits who believe White House correspondents (or the press generally) should not reflexively fire back at the President need to specify the circumstances they believe should be ignored.

This past week, it was provoking confrontation with a major network's White House correspondent, and it was targeting Alcindor, Ryan, and Phillips.   But as Maher recognizes, there will be further attacks upon the media and others.  Resisting a slow-moving coup requires sound strategy, beginning with clear language from the media's heaviest hitters.

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Friday, November 09, 2018

Toying With His People

Paul Krugman observes

The midterms election feels like a mix-and-match combination of two ugly episodes from history. For weeks it felt like 2016: Rs created a fake issue -- the caravan playing the role of emails -- and the news media happily went along with it. 1/

Notice that the caravan totally disappeared as an issue as soon as the votes were cast -- not just Fox News, but mainstream media too. Guys, you really need to take a hard look in the mirror and ask why you're so easily played 2/

4:46 AM - 9 Nov 2018

The cynic would suggest that the guys (maybe a few gals, too) were played because they wanted to be played. However, it's more likely that producers or others in charge saw the picture of the caravan and had an absolute orgasm, with thousands of darkish people clearly marching together in the direction of the USA..

They could repeat endlessly that the individuals were refugees 1,000 miles or so from the Texas border, not financed by George Soros, did not include anyone of known Middle East origin, and are escaping poverty and oppression. But.... those pictures.

Nonetheless, there is a journalist- actually, a media personality- who is not being played.

At the President's campaign rally in Missouri the night before the election, Donald Trump called to the stage Fox News propagandist Sean Hannity. As the video below indicates, Hannity points beyond the crowd at the media and says into the microphone "by the way, all those people in the back are fake news."

The crowd was facing the media to which Hannity was pointing and goes wild, cheering, applauding, and smiling, a few apparently laughing at the media. They do so as Hannity turns 45 degrees so that he can see a portion of the crowd, and he smiles broadly.

He was not looking at the fake news, which he condemns for questioning and slamming his hero. He was not angry, but instead laughing while facing Trump's supporters. These individuals were laughing at the people (media) they were facing- as was Hannity. He was laughing at them.

Hannity is a partisan Republican doing what he can to help the party, and probably a genuine conservative and true believer. However, he didn't get where he was by being stupid. He knows, as Trump has proven, that many of these folks can be patronized, lied to, and even derided ("I lovethe poorly educated"; avoiding STD's "is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier"; "drink my little wine... have my little cracker")- and they will respond with fervent support.

Entertainers know how to entertain and how to play their audience. No one can do this better than the boss who on camera liked to tell potential apprentices "you're fired" but cannot be critical of anyone face-to-face. Legitimate, mainstream journalists are being "played," as Paul Krugman charges. However, not a legitimate journalist, Sean Hannity is not being played, instead himself playing his audience.

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A Trump Favorite

Maria Ricardel, forced out as deputy national security adviser by First Lady Melania Trump after a tiff about seating arrangements on a...