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

  • GOP debate: 4 takeaways
  • GOP debate: Winners & losers
  • Trump’s revenge fest
  • Donations go to Trump’s foundation…
  • Zika “spreading explosively” in Americas: WHO
  • Obama rallies Democrats
  • Syrian opposition: No to today’s talks
  • Chicago police destroyed dashcams
GOP Debate: 4 Takeaways (Politico, Politico, me)
Ted Cruz: Whiner – The candidates, with no Donald Trump to deal with, had plenty of incentive to cut Ted Cruz, the tea party hero, down to size, and they whacked him early and often. Cruz didn’t like the Fox News questions. At one point, Cruz lamely threatened: “Gosh, if you guys ask one more mean question, I many have to leave the stage.” A joke? Flat, very flat
Rand Paul: Reanimated – Paul’s low polling got him dumped from the main stage of the last debate. Back in Iowa, he thrived. He launched a series of razor-sharp attacks on the character of Cruz and Marco Rubio. He also spoke passionately about poverty, discrimination against blacks and mandatory federal drug sentences (too little, too late)
Chris Christie: Won’t answer, dammit – It’s uncanny. The bellicose New Jersey governor, who is staking all on a decent showing in New Hampshire, simply wouldn’t address anything the moderators threw at him – turning every question into an increasingly annoying am-I-right-guys attack on the easiest of targets, Hillary Clinton
Marco Rubio: Grating – Rubio seemed overly tense, hyper-emphatic and prone to his unflattering habit of delivering his answers in an annoying Gatling Gun crescendo of ever-increasing volume. Rubio’s less-than-calm performance undermines the boyish senator’s contention that he’s seasoned enough for the big job (needed a big showing – what went wrong?)


• Megyn Kelly asked Ted Cruz what message Donald Trump’s decision to skip the debate sends to Iowa voters. Cruz: “I’m a maniac, and everyone else on this stage is stupid, fat, and ugly, and Ben, you’re a terrible surgeon,” he deadpanned.” Pause. Now that we’ve gotten the Donald Trump portion out of the way, I want to thank everyone here.”
GOP Debate: Winners (WaPo, me)
Rand Paul: After not making the main stage in the last debate and boycotting the undercard, the Kentucky senator was a major player in this one. He showed off his trademark willingness to needle the other candidates, but also offered nuanced thoughts on racial profiling and abortion. A candidate willing and able to speak on issues his party struggles with
Megyn Kelly: Despite all the negative attention, Kelly showed why she’s the face of Fox News Thursday night. She was pointed, tough and well versed on the issues. She showed her sense of humor and a willingness not to take herself too seriously – none of which is easy to do under so much pressure. Referred to Trump as “the elephant not in the room”
Jeb Bush: The former Florida governor was more relaxed and more forceful in this Trump-less debate than he has been in the six previous debates where Trump has been included. He regularly – aside from Paul – was the only candidate who answered the questions asked of him. He fought Marco Rubio to a draw in a great immigration back and forth
Video reels of past candidate statements: Fox ran video clips of both Rubio and Ted Cruz saying things in the past that they’ve run away from in this campaign. It was great. This is what debates should be about. Holding candidates accountable (what Donald Trump would call being unfair)


GOP Debate: Losers (WaPo, me)
Ted Cruz: Cruz did that totally annoying thing – complain about the rules – when he tried to game a bit more talking time and got shut down by moderator Chris Wallace. He constantly found himself insisting that everyone was either wrong about his position or didn’t understand it. That’s too much defense for Cruz to play
Ben Carson: Whoa boy. Carson swung from barely being asked questions to providing answers that bordered on incoherence. His Russia answer made no sense, ending with: “Putin is a one-horse country, oil and energy.” (he’s been trending on Twitter, folks, right up there with #CatSongs and #PillowTalk) At one point, he seemed stunned to even get a question (me too)
Chris Christie: So boring. For every question he was asked, the answer was how terrible Hilary Clinton is, was and will be. The strategy made Christie look very two dimensional – and shifty, and frankly unable to answer basic questions


Trump’s Revenge Fest  (Politico, AP, me)
• Donald Trump took the stage at his veterans fundraiser Thursday night and declared victory in his war with Fox News. Trump said, “When you’re treated badly, you have to stick up for your rights,” and “we’re actually told that we have more cameras then they do by quite a bit,” comparing the media presence at his event to the Oscars (event was a revenge fest, really)
• Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, two bottom feeders in the GOP 2016 field, joined him to bask in the media attention. Huckabee acknowledged that unlike his higher polling rivals who made Fox’s main debate stage, “I have nothing to do at 8 o’clock tonight. This worked great for me.” (Santorum and Huckabee are past winners of Iowa – mighty are fallen…)
• The event was hastily thrown together five minutes away from the debate after Trump announced he was boycotting the debate in response to a taunting statement issued by the network that questioned Trump’s toughness. The statement followed Trump’s insults and push to have moderator Megyn Kelly removed from the debate over alleged anti-Trump bias
• Before the event, Trump told reporters he had made a $1 million personal donation to veterans groups and that financier Carl Icahn had kicked in another $500,000. Following the event, Trump tweeted that a total of $6 million had been raised (see story below). He told CNN that he might have attended the debate after all if his rival event hadn’t “taken on a life of its own.”
• Trump also told CNN before the event that he had received an apology from “top people” at Fox but wouldn’t specify whom. Fox shot back, accusing Trump of wanting a “quid pro quo” in order to attend the debate – of $5 million donation to charity. Fox’s statement notes they “acknowledged his concerns”
Donations Go to Trump’s Personal Foundation… (Federalist, me)
• Rather than going directly to veterans groups, 100% of online donations on Donald Trump’s pro-veterans site,, registered Thursday, will go directly to Trump’s personal foundation. The site, with stock photos and credit card donation form, claims that “100% of your donations will go directly to Veterans needs.” (so, an untrue claim)
• Confirmation emails sent to individuals who contributed via the site confirm that rather than going directly to veterans, all contributions made from the site go directly to Trump’s personal foundation. A separate confirmation page that loads after donations are made on the site contains the same language (wonder where Trump’s $1 million has gone)
• The Weekly Standard recently found that the Donald Trump Foundation donated more money to the Clinton Foundation than it did to veterans causes. Between 2009 and 2013, Trump’s non-profit donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Over the same period, Trump’s group gave only $57,000 to veterans groups
• The Donald Trump Foundation has donated $5.5 million to 298 charities between 2009 and 2013, according to the non-profit’s 990 tax forms from those years. Of that, only $57,000 has been donated to seven organizations that directly benefit military veterans or their families. (pretty lame for the guy with bone spurs who didn’t go to Vietnam)


• The FBI on Thursday released a video of the shooting death of Robert LaVoy Finicum, a spox for the armed occupiers of an Oregon wildlife refuge. Investigators say it shows the man reach into his jacket before he fell into the snow on a remote Oregon high country road. The FBI said the man had a loaded gun in his pocket. Video taken by FBI from helicopters (AP)

Zika “Spreading Explosively” in Americas: WHO (BBC, Reuters, me)

•Three to four million people could be infected with Zika virus in the Americas this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts. The virus, spread by mosquitoes, has been linked to brain defects in babies. Meanwhile, the U.S. says it hopes to start vaccine trials in people by the end of the year

• WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said Zika had gone “from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions.” She has set up a Zika “emergency team” after the “explosive” spread of the virus. It will meet Monday to decide whether Zika should be treated as a global emergency. The virus has spread to 20 countries in the Americas

• It’s hard to test for, but WHO officials said between 500,000 and 1.5 million people had been infected in Brazil, which reported the first cases of Zika in South America in May 2015. At the same time there’s been a steep rise in levels of microcephaly – babies born with abnormally small heads – and the rare nervous system disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome

• Dr Chan said a link between the virus and these disorders were “strongly suspected” and was “deeply alarming.” And she warned the situation could yet deteriorate as “this year’s El Nino weather patterns are expected to increase mosquito populations greatly in many areas.”

• Dr Anne Schuchat, from the CDC, confirmed there had been 31 cases of Zika in the U.S. – all linked to travel to the affected areas. WH spox Josh Earnest said at the briefing Thursday, “The risk of a disease spread by mosquitoes is quite low. The January temperatures in North America are quite inhospitable to the mosquito populations. But, obviously that’s going to change.”


• Iran flew a surveillance drone over a U.S. aircraft carrier and took “precise” photographs of it as part of an ongoing naval drill, state TV reported today. An American official declined to comment on the claim – (expect questions on this at today’s WH briefing) (AP, me)
Obama Rallies Democrats (AP, Politico, me)
• President Obama on Thursday promised his most fervent supporters on Capitol Hill the “Democrats will win in November” and said it’s going to take more than “phony tough talk and bluster” to defeat ISIS. Obama said the U.S. won’t strengthen itself “by allowing politicians to insult Muslims or pit groups of Americans against each other.” (shot at Trump)
• Appearing before House Democrats at a retreat in Baltimore, Obama said the country is “doing a lot better” than when he took office, citing progress against ISIS and curbing Iran’s nuclear program – as well as lower gas prices, 1.8 million people gaining health insurance and 5% unemployment
• “Sometimes I get a little frustrated that we don’t run back the tapes to what Republicans said back then” when predicting his policies wouldn’t work, Obama said. He noted that his 2012 presidential opponent, Mitt Romney, promised 6% unemployment but it has already dropped to 5%
• On the upcoming elections, Obama promised that “we will have a Democratic president succeeding me. … And the reason I can say that with confidence is because we focus on the things that matter in the lives of the American people.” (and what’s anyone going to do to him if he’s wrong?)
• During the closed-door back and forth with lawmakers, according to an aide in the room, Obama defended his admin’s deportations of migrants from Central America and said bipartisan action was possible on criminal justice reform and in combating opioid abuse. He promised action of Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis


• The Obama admin will move today – executive order – to require companies with 100 employees or more to report to the federal govt what they pay employees by race, gender and ethnicity, part of a push by President Obama to crack down on firms that pay women less for doing the same work as men (NYT)

Syrian Opposition: No to Today’s Talks (Reuters, me)

• The Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee said Thursday it will not attend peace talks starting in Geneva today, until it gets a response from the UN to its demands for goodwill steps including an end to air strikes and blockades. The measures were mentioned in a Security Council resolution approved last month that endorsed the peace process

• The Syrian govt is clawing back territory from rebels with military help from Iran and Russia. It has said it is ready to attend the negotiations, which UN envoy Staffan de Mistura plans to hold in an indirect format – different rooms for different groups. De Mistura said the talks will go ahead as planned (but it’s a huge blow – and a blow to him personally)

• The talks have been pushed back from Monday to allow more time to resolve problems, including a dispute over which groups should be invited to negotiate with the govt. The exclusion of a powerful Kurdish faction that controls wide areas of northern Syria has triggered a boycott by some of the invitees. Turkey views the Kurdish PYD as a terrorist group

• SecState John Kerry urged the opposition to seize the “historic opportunity” and enter talks without preconditions to end the war, which has displaced 11 million people. Enormous challenges include tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which are vying for influence in the region, and the underlying dispute over the future of Syrian President Assad


• Senate Democrats said Thursday they would request $600 million in emergency federal aid to help Michigan attack the lead contaminated water emergency in the city of Flint, the most far-reaching financial solution proposed so far to manage the crisis. Michigan would be required to match $400 million dollar for dollar (NYT, AP)


Chicago Police Destroyed Dashcams (HuffPo, NYDN, DNAInfo, me)
• The Chicago police officer who fatally shot black teen Laquan McDonald intentionally damaged his own dashcam and never synced his microphone to it. DNAInfo Chicago found that about 80% of the maintenance logs they reviewed found that cops routinely tampered with their dashcam systems and mics and waited months for repairs (horrific abuse of power)
• Jason Van Dyke, the officer charged with fatally shooting McDonald in October 2014, caused “intentional damage” to his dashcam at least once, along with other instances of his dashcam breaking, the logs show.  On the day of the killing, audio wasn’t picked up by Van Dyke’s car, nor by the car next to his. Video shows Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times
• The police narrative initially suggested the teen had only been shot once in the chest. Police described the incident as a “clear-cut case of self defense.” But the video, released more than a year later, shows McDonald carrying a small knife and walking away from the officers before Van Dyke unloads his clip into the teen – for 15 seconds
• Recently released radio logs also debunk the idea that McDonald was an immediate threat. One officer says over the radio that the teen was “walking away” with the knife. A dispatcher asks: “Anybody have a taser to help out…?” “Looking for a taser, armed offender.” Of the eight officers at the scene, not a single one was equipped with a taser. (lots of guns, though)
• Rocking into the weekend with the militant “Volunteers” – Jefferson Airplane. RIP Paul Kantner, founding member, who has died at the age of 74. He helped write “Volunteers,” and by the end of the 60s was shaping the San Francisco band’s increasingly radical direction. Was also half of one of rock’s most prominent couples with Grace Slick

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Victoria Jones – Editor