Talk Media News

Victoria Jones created and edits Quick Morning News. She is chief White House correspondent with Washington DC-based Talk Media News, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.

Quick News

  • Legend David Bowie dies, 69
  • State of the Union: Who’s next?
  • SCOTUS: Teachers’ unions under threat?
  • Trump hammers Cruz: Citizenship
  • El Chapo chats w Sean Penn – gets nabbed
  • El Chapo Boasts / WH: “Maddening”
  • Golden Globes: The Revenant / Ricky Gervais

Legend David Bowie Dies, 69 (NYT, AP, me)
• David Bowie, the infinitely changeable, fiercely forward-looking songwriter who taught generations of musicians about the power of drama, images and personae, died Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday after an 18-month battle with cancer, his publicist confirmed this morning (can’t quite believe it – yet “Blackstar” gives so many hints)

• Bowie’s last album, “Blackstar,” was released Friday, on his birthday. He had also collaborated on an Off Broadway musical, “Lazarus,” that was a surreal sequel to his 1976 film role, “The Man Who Fell to Earth” (a favourite performance of mine – live with Queen at Wembley – “Under Pressure”)
• Bowie wrote songs about being an outsider: an alien, a misfit, a sexual adventurer, a faraway astronaut. His music was always a mutable blend: rock, cabaret, jazz, and what he called “plastic soul” but was suffused with genuine soul (“Ziggy Stardust” – amazing + Bowie and the story of Ziggy Stardust – BBC documentary)

• Bowie’s new video of “Lazarus” from “Blackstar” is fearless, unsparing –  and understandable now, after his death. It shows him in a hospital bed, eyes bandaged, coins on his eyes, as he levitates, dances, then – watch. “Look up here, I’m in heaven, I’ve got scars that can’t be seen, I’ve got drama can’t be stolen, Everybody knows me now.”


• Born David Jones on 8 Jan 1947 in South London, Bowie rose to fame with “Space Oddity” in 1969, and later through his jumpsuit-wearing alter ego Ziggy Stardust and another persona, the Thin White Duke. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 (he knew how to rock it out and bop: “Let’s Dance”)
• With a voice that dipped down to baritone and leaped into falsetto, he was completely androgynous, an explorer of human impulses that couldn’t be quantified. (in my view, along with John Lennon, he’s the greatest rock legend we’ve ever had – or likely ever will have). Tributes are pouring in from all over the world (“Heroes”)

• British PM David Cameron called his death “a huge loss.” Kanye West tweeted that Bowie was “so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime.” Ricky Gervais tweeted: “I just lost a hero. RIP David Bowie.” The Vatican’s culture minister tweeted the lyrics to “Space Oddity,” inc “May God’s love be with you.”

• WH chief of staff Denis McDonough said on Fox News Sunday that President Obama will close Guantanamo before his presidency ends in 11 months, but declined to say whether Obama would use his WH powers to sidestep Congress to close the facility. “He’s going to present a plan to Congress and work with Congress and then we’ll make some final determination. (Fox News)

State of The Union Tuesday: Who’s Next (NYT, me)

• President Obama delivers his final State of the Union address Tuesday night at 9 pm ET. He plans a thematic message that effectively will be as much a campaign agenda as a governing document. He hopes to use what may be the largest TV audience left in his presidency to frame the debate about who should replace him and where the country should go from here
• Aides say Obama wants to present an upbeat, optimistic view of America after seven years that will contrast with the gloomy portrayals offered by Republican 2016 candidates, a task aided by strong job creation numbers but complicated by continuing turmoil in the Middle East and elsewhere (2016ers will have a field day with that)
• While Obama will introduce a few policy proposals, more broadly he hopes to generate support for his approach to issues like climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality that can boost Hillary Clinton, the Democratic 2016 front-runner, even if it doesn’t result in further action during his tenure (but he won’t endorse her)
• The Republicans are “seeming to run down America,” WH chief of staff Denis McDonough said on NBC on Sunday. “I don’t really get it. What I see is an America that’s surging.” Obama will follow up with a two-day trip to Nebraska and Louisiana, two GOP states where he’ll urge governors to expand Medicaid coverage as part of his health care program


• Employers added an impressive 292,000 new jobs in December, the Labor Dept said Friday. The unemployment rate held steady at 5%. Revisions showed employers added 50,000 more jobs in October and November than previously estimated. Meanwhile, wages held nearly steady last month. U.S. stocks closed down (WSJ)

SCOTUS: Teachers’ Unions Under Threat? (Reuters, me)
• The Supreme Court will consider today a conservative legal challenge targeting public sector unions when the justices take up a case brought by non-union teachers in California who object to being compelled to pay for collective bargaining

• The dispute pits 10 public school teachers and the Christian Educators Assn International against the California Teachers Assn, an influential union with 325,000 members and a history of backing liberal political causes

• The case could erode organized labor’s influence by allowing public sector workers who are not union members but are forced under state law to pay “agency fees” equivalent to union dues to stop providing this money. This would reduce the income and political clout of public sector unions

• The 10 teachers assert that California law violates non-union workers’ free speech rights under the First Amendment by requiring them to pay the “agency fees’ towards collective bargaining activities. The teachers want SCOTUS  to overturn a 1977 Supreme Court ruling that allowed public sector unions to collect fees as long as the money isn’t spent on political activities


• Democrat Hillary Clinton has 48% to Bernie Sanders’ 45% in Iowa in a new NBC/WSJ/Marist poll. Martin O’Malley has 5%. In New Hampshire, Sanders has 50% to 46% for Clinton. GOPer Ted Cruz has 28% and Donald Trump has 24% in Iowa, but Trump has a 16-point lead over Marco Rubio in New Hampshire, his closest competitor (NYT)

Trump Hammers Cruz: Citizenship (Hill, Hill, WSJ, Reuters, me)
• Republican 2016 front-runner Donald Trump on Sunday hammered away at his closest challenger’s eligibility to be U.S. president. Ted Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother. “From Ted’s standpoint and from the party’s standpoint, he has to solve this problem, because the Democrats will sue him if he’s the nominee,” Trump said on NBC
• On CNN Sunday, Sen Cruz (R-Texas) said, “The Constitution and federal law are clear that the child of U.S. citizens born abroad is a natural born citizen.” “Three weeks ago, almost every Republican candidate was attacking Donald Trump. Today almost every Republican candidate is attacking me. And that kinda suggests something has changed in the race.”
• 2016er Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky) said on CBS on Sunday, “Congressman Grayson (D) from Florida is already saying he’s going to challenge it in court. I think the Democrats will challenge it at the very least and I think it will have to be decided by the Supreme Court.”
• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said on ABC on Sunday that the upper chamber won’t issue a resolution on whether Cruz is constitutionally eligible to run for president. “I just don’t think the Senate ought to get into the middle of this.”


• Hillary Clinton on CBS on Sunday said Republicans’ focus on her husband’s sex scandals is a “dead end” which hasn’t derailed her in the past and “won’t work again.” Donald Trump attacked Hillary Clinton on Fox on Sunday. “She’s not a victim. She was an enabler. She worked with him.” (Hill, Hill)

El Chapo Chats w Sean Penn – Gets Nabbed (Reuters, AP, AP, Guardian, Rolling Stone, me)

• A secretive meeting that leftist Hollywood star Sean Penn orchestrated with Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman in a jungle hideout late last year helped Mexico’s govt catch the world’s most wanted drug lord on Friday, sources said. Mexico aims to extradite Guzman to the U.S. as soon as possible

• Penn’s rare access to the capo was assisted by Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, who has starred in a narco soap. Penn said in the Rolling Stone article out Saturday he was sure the Mexican govt and the U.S. DEA was tracking him during the day long trip through central Mexico to reach el Chapo. Two senior Mexican govt sources said they were aware

• That helped lead them days later to a ranch where Guzman was staying. The kingpin narrowly escaped after a siege that lasted days. Guzman was finally recaptured Friday after a bloody shootout. Mexican marines pursued the wily kingpin through storm drains before intercepting his getaway in a hijacked car

• Penn’s seven-hour encounter with Guzman came about after Guzman became interested in making a movie of his life when he was inundated by U.S. movie studios following his 2014 capture, Penn said (he escaped through a tunnel in his cell). Guzman’s lawyer approached Del Castillo but the project was dropped in favor of a magazine interview, Penn said


• The Rolling Stone interview has raised questions of ethics and judgment, whether Penn should have met secretly with one of the world’s most wanted fugitives, whether the actor crossed the line by giving Guzman approval over the piece before it was published, and whether Penn trivialized Guzman’s past by asking some fluffy questions (maybe, yes, yes – bloody idiot = Penn)


El Chapo Boasts / WH: “Maddening”

• Guzman tells Penn: “I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world … I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats.” Is he to blame for addiction rates? “No, that is false, because the day I don’t exist, it’s not going to decrease in any way at all, Drug trafficking? That’s false.”

• Sunday on CNN, WH chief of staff Denis McDonough said: “One thing I will tell you is that this braggadocious action about how much heroin he sends around the world, including the U.S. is maddening.” “We see a heroin epidemic, an opiod addiction epidemic, in this country. We’re going to stay on top of this with our Mexican counterparts.”

• In the interview, Penn mentions Donald Trump, whose head Guzman reputedly put a $100m bounty on over anti-Latino comments. “Ah! Mi amigo,” Guzman responds ironically. Penn strikes an apologetic tone at times, writing: “I take no pride in keeping secrets that may be perceived as protecting criminals.” But Penn seems anxious to play up perceived virtues:

• “I took some comfort in a unique aspect of El Chapo’s reputation among the heads of drug cartels in Mexico: that, unlike many of his counterparts who engage in gratuitous kidnapping and murder, el Chapo is a businessman first, and only resorts to violence when he deems it advantageous to himself or his business interests.” (would kill you if he didn’t like article, mate)


Golden Globes: The Revenant / DiCaprio (BBC, me)
• The Revenant triumphed at this year’s Golden Globes, winning the night’s prize for best dramatic film. Leading man Leonardo DiCaprio won best actor in a drama, while Alejandro G Inarritu won for its direction. Ridley Scott hit The Martian was named best comedy or musical film, winning a further Globe for star Matt Damon (who didn’t think it was a comedy or a musical)
• Room star Brie Larson was named best actress in a drama, while Jennifer Lawrence won best comedy actress. Kate Winslet won best supporting actress for Steve Jobs. The BBC’s Wolf Hall was named best mini-series (which it was). Sylvester Stallone won best supporting actor for his comeback performance as Rocky Balboa in Creed
• Amazon did well in the TV categories, with two wins apiece for the streaming services’ original dramas, Mr Robot (great show – have been bingeing on it) and Mozart in the Jungle. Gael Garcia Bernal won best actor in a comedy or musical TV series for Mozart in the Jungle. Christian Slater won best supporting actor for Mr Robot
• Empire star Taraji P Henson won best actress in a TV drama series and Mad Men’s Jon Hamm picked up his second best actor Golden Globe for Mad Men
Golden Globes: Rick Gervais. Insults (EW, me)
• “You’re global megastars with amazing talent. Most of you. Some of you just married well. You know who you are. We all do.” (they really just need to move the show to cable – it got sooo annoying to repeatedly have the best lines bleeped out by nanny censors). Here’s Gervais’s opening monologue
• “I’m going to be nice tonight. I’ve changed – not as much as Bruce Jenner. Obviously. Now Caitlyn Jenner, of course. What a year she’s had! She became a role model for trans-people everywhere, showing great bravery in breaking down barriers and destroying stereotypes. She didn’t do a lot for women drivers. But you can’t have everything, can ya? Not at the same time.”
• “The excellent Spotlight has been nominated. Yeah. The Catholic Church are furious about the film as it exposes that 5% of all their priests have repeatedly molested children and been allowed to continue to work without punishment. Roman Polanski called it ‘the best date movie ever.'”
• On introducing Eva Longoria and America Ferrera: “Two people who your future president, Donald Trump, can’t wait to deport.”

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Victoria Jones – Editor