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.

Belgian prosecutors believe they may have found the place where Paris attacks ringleader hid in Brussels after attacks (BBC)


Quick News

  • Obama grilled on guns on CNN
  • Trump tries Vermont
  • Cruz & McCain: Birther bizness
  • Maine guv’s “racist rants?”
  • Starving Syrian town: Relief in sight?
  • New food guidelines: Big meat wins
Obama Grilled on Guns on CNN (CNN, Reuters, Hill, NYT, NYT, me)
• President Obama fielded tough questions from gun owners at a televised town hall on CNN Thursday, defending his move to tighten gun rules as he sought to elevate the issue of gun control before the Nov 2016 election to replace him. The NRA sat out the town hall, calling it a “public relations spectacle” (which it wasn’t – Obama was in the hot seat: #NRAfail)
• “There’s a reason why the NRA’s not here. They’re just down the street,” Obama said, growing visibly angry. The NRA’s chief lobbyist, Chris Cox, said he was “not really interested” in talking to Obama. “He doesn’t support the individual right to own a firearm,” Cox told Fox News after the CNN debate. “So what are we going to talk about – basketball?” (you lost all cred)
• Kimberly Corban, a survivor of a sexual assault who said she carried a gun to protect herself and her two young children, said: “I have been unspeakably victimized once already, and I refuse to let that happen again.” Obama said: ” You certainly would like to make it a little harder for that assailant to have also had a gun.”
• Obama’s exasperation was evident as he confronted the deeply held fear among some Americans that his actions are a slippery slope towards banning or confiscating guns. He accused his opponents of spreading a “false notion that I believe is being circulated for either political reasons or commercial reasons in order to prevent a coming together of people of good will.”
• When Anderson Cooper questioned his use of the term “conspiracy” theory, Obama snapped: “I am sorry Cooper, it is fair to call it a conspiracy. What are you saying?” “Are you suggesting we are creating a plot to take people’s guns away so we can have martial law? I’m only going to be here for another year, when would I have started on this enterprise, right?” (7 years ago)


• December jobs report is out today at 8:30 ET. Economists surveyed by WSJ estimate 210,000 jobs were created during December and project the unemployment rate to tick down to 4.9%. Meanwhile, Chinese shares have risen and European markets have opened higher at the end of what has been a torrid first week of the year (BBC, WSJ)
Trump Tries Vermont (NYT, Hill, me)
• Donald Trump touched down in progressive Burlington, Vt, Thursday night, the home of Democratic 2016er Bernie Sanders. The Republican 2016 frontrunner delivered a meandering hourlong speech that touched on a wall on the southern border, an explanation of how he plans to negotiate with Iran and a call to end gun-free zones in schools
• Offering a backhanded welcome ahead of Trump’s visit, Sen Sanders (I) said that he hoped some of Vermont’s progressive values might rub off on Trump. He also called Trump “a pathological liar.” He added: “He just says things that have no basis in fact.” (which isn’t hurting him at all)
• “Bernie! Bernie!” Protesters shouted repeatedly during the overflow Trump rally. “Throw them out into the cold,” Trump ordered security. Don’t give them their coats. No coats! Confiscate their coats.” “Are there any remnants?” Trump later asked, as another protester shouted out. “There’s a remnant, he said, pointing. “Throw him out.” (Trump had huge fun with this)
• Earlier in the day, protesters flooded the area near the arena, including Ben Cohen, a co-founder of the iconic ice cream chain. He walked down the street with a lit-up Sanders campaign sign. “Trump is here in our backyard and we want to make it clear that we are dyed-in-the-wool Bernie people,” Cohen said
• Two Palestinian men who came to the U.S. as refugees were arrested on federal terrorism charges in California and Texas for supporting Islamic militant groups, U.S. officials said Thursday. Neither man was charged with plotting an attack on the U.S. (Reuters)

Cruz Hits Back at McCain Over Birther Bizness (Politico, Bloomberg Politics, Hill, me)

• Ted Cruz fired back at John McCain on Thursday, a day after his Senate colleague deemed valid questions about whether the Texas senator is eligible for the presidency because of his place of birth. “I think it is no surprise to anybody that John McCain is going to be supporting Marco Rubio in this election,” Cruz said, suggesting that was the motivation

• Wednesday, McCain (R-Ariz) said of himself on The Chris Merrill Show, a local Arizona radio program: “It was a U.S. military base. That’s different from being born on foreign soil, so I think there is a question. I’m not a Constitutional scholar on that, but I think it’s worth looking into.” McCain famously called Cruz and a couple of others “wacko birds” – bad blood

• Cruz’s wife, Heidi Cruz, weighed in on The Boston Herald Radio’s Morning Meeting. “I think this is an example of Ted winning this race and people looking for things to be a distraction. We’re really not worried about something that is not in dispute in a legal sense.” (it’s not been ruled on)

• Donald Trump, who initially stirred the whole issue up because he’s panicked (with good reason) about losing Iowa to Cruz in next month’s caucuses, tweeted Thursday: “.@SenTedCruz Ted–free legal advice on how to pre-empt the Dems on citizen issue. Go to court now & seek Declaratory Judgment–you will win!”


• The State Dept failed Thursday night to make public a promised new batch of 3,003 pages of emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server during her time in the Obama admin. Earlier Thursday, State spox John Kirby took umbrage at a reporter’s (prescient) suggestion that the release process was “a mess.” (Politico)
Maine Guv’s “Racist Rants?” (NYT, Portland Press Herald, me)
• During an event Wednesday night in Maine, Gov Paul LePage (R), described the heroin epidemic in his state, suggesting it was being fueled by outsiders. “These are guys with the name D-Mooney, Smoothie, Shifty – these types of guys. They come from Connecticut and New York, they sell their heroin, they go back home.”
• “Incidentally,” he added, “half they time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing, because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.” (is the “issue” unwanted pregnancy or – mixed-race babies born to “young, white” girls??)
• LePage is the first major elected official to endorse Gov Chris Christie (R-NJ) for president. A spox for Christie didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday evening. Christie praised LePage ahead of the endorsement last summer: “He doesn’t put his finger up in the air to see which way the wind is blowing.” (finger is in his anatomy)
• Hillary Clinton’s campaign said in a statement Thursday night that LePage’s comments were “offensive” and “try to cover up the very real epidemic of drug abuse facing people in his state and across the country. LePage’s racist rants sadly distract from efforts to address one of our nation’s most pressing problems.” (very holier than thou)


• Rep Paul Gosar (R-Ariz) says he and several colleagues will introduce a bill today to strip Bill Cosby of his Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, citing the sexual assault allegations against the entertainer. The move comes a week after Cosby was charges in Pa with sexually assaulting a woman in 2004. Question is can it be done – hope so

Starving Syrian Town: Relief in Sight? (BBC, Mashable, me)

• The Syrian govt has agreed to allow aid into the besieged rebel-held village of Madaya, near Damascus, the UN says, amid reports of residents starving to death. The UN humanitarian coordinator said it was planning to deliver humanitarian assistance “in the coming days.” Aid agencies say conditions are “extremely dire.”

• Although there are no complete figures on deaths, Doctors Without Borders said 23 patients in a health center it supported in Madaya had died of starvation since 1 Dec. The UN said it’s received credible reports of people dying of starvation and being killed, some by landmines, while trying to leave

• Ammar Ghanem, a Syrian American doctor who grew up in the Madaya area and has been in touch with family there, said that “lately people are going after cats and dogs, to catch them and eat them.” Resident Abdel Wahab Ahmed said, “People here have started eating earth because there’s nothing left to eat.” Also eating grass

• Up to 4.5 million people in Syria live in hard-to-reach areas, including nearly 400,000 people in 15 besieged locations who don’t have access to the life-saving aid they urgently need. Madaya has been besieged since early July by govt forces and their allies in Lebanon’s Shia Islamist Hezbollah movement. Peace talks are scheduled for 25 Jan – may or may not happen


New Food Guidelines: Big Meat Wins (Politico, me)
• In the face of furious lobbying by the meat industry, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines out Thursday don’t explicitly urge Americans to eat less meat – as an expert panel advising the govt had recommended last Feb. For the first time, however, they do suggest limits on how much added sugar people should consume – and say to eat more fruits, veggies, nuts, fish, whole grains
• The report is a political football because it determines the content of school meals and the aims of food assistance programs. It also informs labeling and advertising of food products by companies, and the advice given by health professionals. There’s billions of dollars at stake for the food industry – they don’t want their products bad-mouthed (even if they should be)
• Among the most controversial part of the advisory report was a suggestion that Americans consider both the environmental and health impacts of the food they eat. The panel extolled the benefits of plant-based diets and suggested that local govts consider taxing unhealthy foods and sugary drinks – eeek the $1 trillion+ food industry freaked out
• Meat producers muscled in. Disclosures show that, between them, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn, the National Pork Producers Council and the North American Meat Institute spent more than $1.1 million in the first three quarters of 2015 on lobbying, with the Dietary Guidelines listed among their concerns

• The pressure from industry, as well as farm state lawmakers, led USDA Sec Tom Vilsack and HHS Sec Sylvia Mathews Burwell to promise furious lawmakers they would steer clear of those recommendations – more in the article

• Rocking into the weekend with “Don’t Wanna Fight” – Alabama Shakes – could just be the best rock song of 2015.   Plus: in music news – Beyoncé will reportedly guest with Coldplay on stage at the Super Bowl half-time show. That might stop us all overdosing on nachos, wing dings, salsa by the bowl – just to stop the paaain – if we have to listen to “Clocks”

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Victoria Jones – Editor