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

  • Trump’s feud with Fox: Me Me ME
  • 3 arrested, Bundy tells occupiers to leave
  • Obama speaks at Holocaust memorial
  • DoJ reaches agreement with Ferguson
  • Syrian talks: Opposition wants answers first
  • Bernie meets Barack
  • South Carolina: Refugee tracking bill…
Trump’s Feud with Fox: Me Me ME (NYT, me)
• There’s a Republican presidential debate tonight on Fox News at 9 pm. You wouldn’t know it. Neither Fox News nor Donald Trump showed any sign of budging on Wednesday after Trump walked over his increasingly insulting demands that anchor Megyn Kelly be dumped from the debate was met with N.O. Chris Wallace and Bret Baier are the other moderators
• Trump said the final straw was a sarcastic press statement Fox News released Tuesday, which jokingly questioned how he would handle President Putin of Russia and Ayatollah Khameini of Iran if he couldn’t handle Kelly. On Twitter Wednesday, Trump called it “taunting” (because he’s never taunted anyone in his life…)
• But network officials said the statement was, in fact, an attempt at levity composed by chairman Roger Ailes, who they said had reached his limit with Trump’s rants against Kelly, which ramped up over the weekend. Still, Fox’s stance was primarily about journalistic principles, the officials said (with straight faces – anyone watched Fox and Friends?)
• Trump went on Fox News’s O’Reilly Factor on Wednesday night. Trump chided O’Reilly for breaking what he described as a preinterview agreement the two had about not asking whether he would change his mind. O’Reilly said that was the truth and complimented him for coming on (apparently journalistic standards continue not to apply to O’Reilly)


• In shunning the debate, Trump is making a gamble that Fox News’s grip on the voters to whom he appeals – populists who are fed up with prescribed rules of engagement – is not strong enough to hurt him. (a good bet) His rivals openly wondered whether he would change course. Jeb Bush said he had placed a $20 bet that Trump would appear after all (poor old Jeb)
• Aides to Trump said they were moving forward with plans for a competing event to benefit veterans tonight – about three miles away from the debate. Trump attacked Kelly again Wednesday on Twitter: “I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct. Instead I will only call her a lightweight reporter!”
• Trump is a presidential frontrunner who consistently, singularly, delivers hit-level ratings to whatever network he appears on. Those ratings, of course, translate into revenue, giving Trump that sine qua non of all winning negotiators: leverage – (and networks execs are all about the ca$h)
• (There’s a risk in Trump appearing at this debate: He’s leading in the Iowa polls and would be asked about previous, awkward, liberal positions on issues, as well as calling Iowa voters “stupid.” Ted Cruz would go for the throat. Trump is not, despite his boasts, a very good debater and has poll dips afterwards. Better to seize the spotlight this way)
• At least five people have been arrested in connection with the three inmates who escaped a Southern California jail, authorities said Wednesday. More arrests were expected. Authorities believe the three had “outside help” with the escape (Fox News)
3 Arrested, Bundy Tells Occupiers to Leave (AP, NYT, Oregonian, me)
• Three more suspects linked to the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon surrendered Wednesday, hours after their jailed leader urged the handful of remaining militants to abandon the site they have occupied for more than three weeks (the feds have played this quite well by waiting so long and lulling them into false sense of security)
• After militant leader Ammon Bundy made his first court appearance in Portland Wednesday, his attorney Mike Arnold read this statement from his client: “Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is now in the courts.” (do they recognize the courts?)
• While it was unclear whether the remnant of Bundy’s followers still holed up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge south of Burns was ready to heed his advice, three more arrests were made later Wednesday. FBI officials also said they were working around the clock to empty the refuge of armed occupiers in the safest way possible
• Bundy followers gave conflicting accounts of how militant Robert Finicum died Tuesday in a confrontation with FBI agents on a remote highway. One said Finicum charged at FBI agents, who then shot him. A member of the Bundy family said Finicum did nothing to provoke the agents (interestingly, radical militant groups around the country are trying to keep a lid on this)
• At least one person claiming to have witnessed what happened said the occupants of the vehicle carrying Bundy were arrested without incident, but that Finicum, driving a pickup truck, sped off, stopping only when he reached a law enforcement road block. Finicum had previously said, “I’d rather die than be caged.”
Obama Speaks at Holocaust Memorial (Haaretz, me)
• President Obama spoke Wednesday at a special Holocaust ceremony at the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC, and said that “anti Semitism is on the rise, we cannot deny it.” “When we see Jews leaving Europe … and attacks on Jewish centers from Mumbai to Kansas, when we see swastikas appear on college campuses, we must not stay silent.”
• The event honored four people, including Americans from Tennessee and Indiana, for risking their lives to protect Jews during the Holocaust, and is the first time such an event took place in the U.S. Opening with a quotation from the Talmud, Obama said: “Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”
• The UN has designated Wednesday as International Holocaust Remembrance Day to commemorate the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945. Six million Jews were killed by Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust
• Americans Roddie Edmonds of Knoxville, Tennessee; Lois Gunden of Goshen, Indiana; and Polish citizens Walery and Maryla Zbijewski of Warsaw are being recognized by Yad Vashem for protecting Jews from harm during the Holocaust. Yad Vashem, based in Jerusalem, is the world’s Holocaust education and research center


• Sudan’s President Bashir has ordered the opening of his country’s border with South Sudan for the first time since the latter seceded in 2011. The move comes days after reports that South Sudan had ordered its troops to withdraw a short way from the border. Disputes over the border remain unresolved (BBC)
DoJ Reaches Agreement with Ferguson (NYT, Reuters, me)
• A tentative agreement between the Dept of Justice and leaders in Ferguson, Mo, released Wednesday seeks to overhaul the city’s beleaguered justice system. It seeks to end unlawful arrests, ensure that the courts are independent of prosecutors and preserve people’s right to film police officers
• The deal came after months of negotiations stemming from the the DoJ’s scathing critique of the city’s police and courts in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer in 2014
• The agreement would spare Ferguson a long and expensive court fight. In its report last year, the DoJ described Ferguson as a city where the police dept and court operated not as independent bodies but as a single moneymaking venture
• The settlement is unusual in its breadth. It demands changes not only to how and when police officers use force, but to the city’s entire criminal justice system. It calls for officers to stop making arrests without probable cause and declares that police officers and the courts should not be used to resolve routine school disciplinary issues (thank God)
• Police officers would no longer be able to shoot at moving cars or use stun guns as punishment. And it explicitly declares the public’s right to videotape police conduct. Many other changes track closely with recommendations made last year by a WH panel of police leaders and criminal justice experts


Syrian Talks? Opposition Wants Answers First (Reuters, me)

• Plans to hold the first negotiations to end the civil war in Syria for two years are in doubt after the opposition said it wouldn’t show up unless the UN responded to demands for a halt to attacks on civilian areas. (don’t see how this is possible – Syrian govt has no intention of stopping as it’s gaining ground) Washington urged Syrian opposition groups to attend

• The Syrian govt has already agreed to join the talks that UN envoy Staffan de Mistura hopes to convene in an indirect – different rooms – format in Geneva on Friday with the aim of ending the five-year-old war that has killed 250,000 people (would be happy if these talks make it, but they’re full of men – who were or are warmakers. where are the women peacemakers?)

• Preparations have been messy, including a dispute over who should be invited to negotiate with President Assad’s govt as it claws back territory with the help from Russia and Iran. Kurds, who control a swathe of northern Syria, weren’t invited and predicted the talks would fail

• In a letter to UN SecGen Ban Ki-moon, the Saudi-backed opposition group High Negotiations Committee said attacks on civilian areas must stop before any negotiations. It also called for the lifting of sieges on blockaded areas among other steps outlined by the UN Security Council in a resolution passed last month

• The Syrian govt, aided by Russian air strikes and allied militia including Iranian forces, is gaining ground against rebels in western Syria, this week capturing the town of Sheikh Maskin near the Jordanian border (but Russia assured us it was just there to fight ISIS…)


• The Syrian govt in 2015 ignored most UN requests to deliver humanitarian aid to some 4.6 million people in hard-to-reach and besieged areas and only 620,000 received help. UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien told the Security Council that last year the UN made 113 requests for approval of inter-agency aid convoys but only 10% were able to deliver assistance (Reuters)


Bernie Meets Barack (NYT, Bloomberg, me)
• 2016er Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) spoke to the news media after meeting with President Obama Wednesday. On the Democratic primary: “What the president has tried to do, what VP Biden has tried to do, is to be as even handed as they could be,” Sanders said outside the West Wing
• Asked whether he thought Hillary Clinton had overplayed her closeness to the president, Sanders said, “I think the people of Iowa will make that decision in a few days.” “What the Iowa campaign ends up being about is one word, and that is turnout,” he said. “We are feeling really good about where we are.”
• “I’m not saying that we could do what Barack Obama did in 2008,” when many first-time caucusgoers drove up overall turnout. “I wish I could, but I don’t think we can. But if there is a large turnout, I think we win. If not, I think we are going to be struggling.” (pretty candid)
• Sanders called the meeting with Obama “positive and constructive” and said they discussed domestic and international issues and “occasionally a little bit of politics.” No details. He said they discussed the strategy for defeating ISIS and that he supported the president’s approach

• Hours after Hillary Clinton ratcheted up her pressure on him to accept an invitation to an unsanctioned debate on 4 Feb, Bernie Sanders ramped things up by calling for three new debates – March, April, May – and if she agrees, he would commit to the debate on 4 Feb if the DNC would arrange it (Politico)


South Carolina: Refugee Tracking Bill (Free Times, AP, me)
• A bill requiring state police to track refugees coming to South Carolina and to hold their sponsors liable for damages if they commit an act of terrorism is on its way to the floor of the Senate. It’s hugely popular among conservative Republicans, but two Democrats voted against it Wednesday, with one of them blocking floor debate – may not advance
• Sen Kevin Johnson (D), who voted no, said, “It was basically mean spirited and hate filled.” The senator, who is black, added later,  “I gained a great appreciation sitting here for three hours what my grandparents and great grandparents had to endure. Because they were told the same thing.” At an earlier hearing, scores of people spoke against refugee resettlement
• Michael Reed, chair of Palmetto Christian Defense, referred senators to a book called Immigrants of Doom. A man who said Muslim refugees take multiple wives and have them all apply for welfare benefits referred the subcommittee to his website, (it’s a great paranoid zenophobic website – there were other people, too – see Free Times piece)
• One woman invoked the recent mass assault in Cologne, Germany. “Could it be that wealthy older male Muslims have taken for themselves a disproportionate number of wives? Perhaps these older polygamists are only too happy to send their young men out to take young women through conquest.” (on leaky boats with no life jackets – that’s the ticket to Charleston libido)


• A vulture that flew into Lebanon from an Israeli nature reserve wearing Israeli tags and and a GPS transmitter on its back was captured on suspicion of spying, local media reports said. The vulture was released after it was certain it was “not carrying any hostile equipment.” In 2010, Egypt accused Mossad of a series of shark attacks in the Red Sea to damage tourism (CNN)

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Victoria Jones – Editor