Bernie’s Q&A: Trump vs. Scarborough & Twitter, Fauci, Imus, and more! (5/29) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)
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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):
A few Memorial Day thoughts: I read that less than half of Americans even know that Memorial Day is a day to honor and remember those who gave their lives for America. The NYT chose that day this year to focus on white supremacy with respect to the military. Around the same time, China was taking steps to put a choke-hold on Hong Kong by criminalizing disrespect for the Chinese National Anthem (in contrast to the US where flag burning is constitutionally protected), and the media was pretty much silent while it continued to carry China's water on various issues. I started to think about just how far we as a country have fallen in terms of patriotism, love of country and respect for our armed forces and the brave men and women who serve and have served (not all of us but a substantial number who would like to see our military spending sliced). And I started to wonder what all this portends as many of our leaders (together with academia, the entertainment industry and of course the MSM) denigrate on an ongoing basis America, the Constitution, our history and our values. -- Michael F.
As the country (continues) to move leftward, we'll see more of what you're describing, Michael. I'm not saying liberals hate America. But I don't think they are as traditional in these matters as conservatives. There may be a swing back to the way things used to be regarding old-fashioned patriotism. But I don't see it coming anytime soon.
Bernie, how would you grade Dr. Fauci’s response to COVID-19? Some of the pundits have faulted him for changing his position too often or not clearly communicating his position when asked. I want to know your no nonsense assessment. -- Joe M.
I'm not troubled, Joe, when Dr. Fauci (or anybody else) changes his position. Facts change. Opinions change. Anything said at the outset of the virus, means little -- because we knew little. That said, I trust Fauci. If I had to pick someone who's advice I would take, he'd be high on my list. Guess who would be at the bottom of that list. Initials: DJT.
Watching the Golf Match Today, I was thinking about your interview with John Urschel. The football interview where “A Math Seminar Broke Out”. And I was also thinking about Colin Kaepernick. Certainly there are issues in sports worthy of press such as the treatment of the horses in horse racing and camel Jockeys. But overall I believe that American Professional Sports do a pretty good job of standards as do the athletes themselves. Maybe I’m wrong but even with Kaepernick I hear he’s a good guy. The Match raised millions and I know through out the country many athletes raise money and donate as well. And personally, I hear little negative. Just looking to get your opinion overall of professional sport standards. -- Tim H.
Like life outside the world of sports, there are good people and not-so-good people. Good deeds and bad deeds. We in the press are drawn to bad events -- like a football player whose gun accidentally goes off at a nightclub. Or athletes involved in domestic abuse cases. For good or bad, that's the nature of news. But there's a lot of good deeds in the world of sports. A lot of charity and the like. But just as we don't cover the bank that did NOT get robbed or the plane that landed safely, we tend to cover the dark side. But, as I say, Tim ... there's plenty that's good.
Mr. G, Are we at the time in place now where presidents' words don’t matter? Clinton wagged his finger at us and lied, and tried to change what “is” means; Bush claimed WMD’s and we still have troops getting killed for who knows what; Obama said “keep your doctor and enjoy lower healthcare costs’. Now Trump goes off the Pinocchio rails almost daily. They ALL lie and keep their jobs, so what’s the use in crying? Do we just continue to live with it? Might you have a solution? I hope so... -- ScottyG
First, a quick correction: Bush got it wrong, but he didn't lie. He based his decision on faulty intel. Obama may not have lied either. He may have been incompetent and didn't know what was in his signature piece of legislation. Or, as you say Scotty, he may have lied.
With that out of the way, what's my solution: Try to go about your business so that the president, whoever he or she is, doesn't play too big a role in your life. And lower your expectations. There aren't a lot of Washingtons or Lincolns. And finally: If we chose better presidents you wouldn't need to ask your question.
Bernie, as of the time I'm writing this (to get my question in before your deadline), Trump has yet to announce the details of his "executive order" to, in some fashion, "strongly regulate" Twitter. He of course got mad after Twitter flagged one of his tweets as factually incorrect (a new feature). Regardless of Trump's intent, and whether or not this new fact-check feature is a good idea, Twitter is a private company and has a constitutional right to make its own rules of use. Trump has no authority over how they manage their content and users (whether it be deleting certain posts, banning members, or adding "fact checks" to some tweets). What are your thoughts on what looks like a government power-grab, and are you surprised that the GOP (the party that's traditionally stood for less intrusion in businesses by the government) seems to be going along with it? -- Ben G.
I'm pretty much with you but let's remember that social media sites have been granted -- by the U.S. government -- certain privileges. The site isn't responsible, for instance, for anything said on the site. You can sue someone who posts libelous material about you -- but you can't successfully sue the site (because the site owner can't know everything posted, especially when the site has millions or billions of participants like Twitter and Facebook).
So, are the people who run Facebook and Twitter and Google publishers who can edit comments and posts and say what's true and what isn't -- or are they merely facilitators who open their sites to a free and open discussion without interference?
If Twitter chooses to call out the president's tweets for dishonesty, then Twitter appears to be a publisher. And as such, they can be sued.
So it's complicated. But do we really think Twitter would flag President Obama's false statement about keeping your doctor? The big sites are heavily influenced by liberal thinking so conservatives have a right to be annoyed. Still, you raise a strong point, Ben. And there's a good chance the matter will end up in the courts.
Even after Lori Klausutis's widower wrote a letter describing the pain Trump is causing his family by continuing to push the baseless conspiracy theory that his wife was having an affair with, and was murdered by, Joe Scarborough, Trump (who says he read the letter) hasn't relented. He continues to call for an investigation into Scarborough, and he even claimed that the Klausutis family wants to "get to the bottom” of what happened (exactly the opposite of what the widower — who has known what happened since 2001 — wrote). From what I've seen, no prominent Christian leader has condemned Trump for what he's doing. If they can't speak up on presidential behavior as over-the-top immoral as this, shouldn't they just shut up on all political matters from here on out? -- Bailey T.
An emphatic YES, Bailey, on whether Christian leaders should shut up on all political matters. I'll go further. I don't want to hear them lecture us on moral matters when they go deaf, dumb and blind regarding the president's despicable tweets about Scarborough. Please see the column that will go up on my website Monday morning.
Have you seen the old video of Joe Scarborough on Don Imus's show, where Imus -- in the last few seconds of the segment -- made some joke about Scarborough sleeping with and killing an "intern" (which I guess was a reference to Lori Klausutis, though she wasn't an intern). Scarborough kind of went along with the joke (which was in poor taste). Some of those defending our president's conspiracy theory are claiming this to be some kind of "ah ha" moment that implicates Scarborough. But as someone who was on his show often, Bernie, didn't Imus do this kind of thing a lot? He was kind of a shock jock, like Howard Stern, right? I'm not sure how Scarborough should have reacted with only a few seconds remaining in such an interview. Your thoughts? -- Samuel M.
Yes, Imus would do something like that ... and when you're on live radio or TV sometimes you just go along. As for those Trump supporters using this to say the president is on to something ... Bull Crap!
Read my column coming out on Monday. What Donald Trump has done to Scarborough (who, for what it's worth, I do not like) was despicable. And those who find excuses to support the president would also support him if he really did shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue.
I agree that Pelosi and the Dems want to delay the recovery of the economy in order to win the election. I further agree that Trump sabotages himself regularly by making dumb ass comments on Twitter and getting into petty adolescent battles by attacking people like Jeff Sessions & even worse Joe Scarborough (really—-WTF!?). What I don’t get is why Trump can’t figure out that he plays right into his enemies’ plans by engaging in these petty quarrels since it’s easy to see that this can come back and kick him in the rear! Same goes for Pelosi and the Dems—how can THEY not see that anyone with a reasonable disposition can easily see that they want the American economy to crash and burn for their own selfish purposes and that buying into “I can make more money sitting at home doing nothing than I can by actually working” is ultimately a deal with the devil that will cause more problems in the end than it will actually cure? We’ve both seen any number of movies about how it appears that mobsters are going to help you out but in the end all they really want is to own you. It’s obvious to you and me; why do you think it’s not obvious to them? -- Petty & Nefarious Regards From The Emperor
Emperor: Let's start with the president. You ask why he can't figure out that he's playing into the hands of his enemies. That's easy: He doesn't THINK ... he just impulsively acts. As long as his most loyal supports applaud his every move, he'll continue to hurt himself. Check out my column that will go up on Monday. And pay special attention to the last paragraph.
As for the Dems: I'm not sure most Americans have concluded that they want to see the economy crash and burn. Some will see it that way. But others I think will say the Dems are helping us by giving us "free" money.
Most people, Your Royalty, aren't news junkies. If they're getting a government check, they're happier than if they're not. They don't follow the details the way you or I do. (Sometimes I think they're better off not paying attention. Paying attention gives me a headache.)
Polling has typically been characterized by percentages based upon political party allegiance with a minority sampling of theoretical independent voters. In this new age of covid-19 virus, do you think that sampling based on the economic impact of the virus might provide more insightful data? Poll responders that have not had their income effected can afford to support political ideologies while those that have been severely impacted economically by the virus, especially those that are either small business owners or those employed by small business owners (a very significant portion of our population and economy), may be far less loyal to a party and more attuned to economic messaging. Your analysis of this observation would be thoroughly appreciated. Thank you. -- Douglas C.
You raise an interesting point, but I think it would take someone named Gallup to give you an answer. That said, I'm going to give it a shot, Douglas.
Your premise, as I understand it, is a reasonable one: People vote their pocketbooks, their financial well being. So how the virus affected them would be a better gauge than simply their party affiliation. Okay. But let's remember that the economy was strong when Clinton left office yet voters chose W (barely) in the next election. And the economy was weak in 2012 yet Obama beat a successful businessman, Mitt Romney.
My point is that many things come into play when voters decide who they want to be president. And so I'm not sure if the polling results would be any different if they did it your way instead of the traditional way.
But I want to emphasize this question is way too complicated for someone like me to answer with any confidence.
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