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: 10 juicy gems
  • Rubio wins: Will it matter?
  • Kansas mass shooting: Four dead
  • Democrats’ SCOTUS shame campaign
  • Apple: FBI seeks “dangerous power” – iPhone
  • House hardliners: Blow up budget deal
  • Diverse movies make more $$$$$
GOP Debate: 10 Juicy Gems (Politico, Time, Politico, WaPo, me)
• On a question on immigration in the Houston CNN debate, Marco Rubio went for Donald Trump for hiring illegal immigrants (big NYT story) and paying $1 million after a suit was filed. Nasty exchange: “He had to pay a million dollars or so in a judgment. That’s a fact.” Trump said Rubio was wrong. Ted Cruz later jumped in to say Trump was found guilty as part of a conspiracy
• Trump hammered Cruz for having no friends in the Senate: “You don’t have one Republican senator backing you. Not one…You should be ashamed of yourself.” Cruz shot back that Trump gets along with everyone, especially Democrats, “He has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats.” (true – also true about Cruz – two nasties…)
• Rubio, who totally owned the night, needled Trump over his (scam) Trump University. Trump called Rubio a “lousy businessman.” People borrow $36,000 in loans to attend a “fake school,” Rubio said. And, “they got to take a picture with a cutout of Donald Trump. That’s what they got for $36,000.” (that’s what’s alleged in the lawsuit against Trump)
• “Here’s a guy who buys a house for $179,000 and sells it to a lobbyist who’s probably here for $380,000 and then legislation is passed,” Trump sneered about Rubio. “If he hadn’t inherited $2 million, you know where Donald Trump would be right now? Selling watches in Manhattan,” Rubio shot back
• Rubio accused Trump of lying about the illegal immigration lawsuit in Poland. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, That was 38 years ago,”Trump dismissed him. “Oh, he lied 38 years ago,” Rubio said sarcastically. “I guess there’s a statute of limitations on lies.”

• OK – so who the heck was the repeat shrieker? A special place in hell…


Rubio Wins – Will It Matter?
• On healthcare, Trump repeated that he would have “many different plans,” “so many different plans,” “many, many different plans” and repeeeatedly said the govt should have got rid of the “lines around each state” for more competition. Rubio said Trump was repeating himself. “No I’m not – no, no, no. I don’t repeat myself. I don’t repeat myself,” Trump repeated himself
• Trump said (untruthfully) “You don’t learn anything from a tax return” and bleated that he “absolutely” will release returns “but I’m being audited now for two or three now so I can’t.” (claimed post-debate it’s because he’s Christian…) Mitt Romney, who had said there would be a “bombshell” in Trump’s returns, fired off a tweet to release earlier returns “if scared” (go Mitt…)
• Trump has suggested Cruz could be tied up in court over his eligibility to run for the WH. Cruz told the crowd that Trump University is “a fraud case. His lawyers have scheduled a trial for July. If you want to think about this man as the nominee, having the Republican nominee on the stand in court being cross examined…” (oh yes please)
• Rubio nailed Trump. Trump: “Talking about repeating, I watched him repeat himself five times four weeks ago.” Rubio: “I saw you repeat yourself five times five seconds ago.” / Rubio: “The Palestinians are not a real estate deal.” Trump: “A deal is a deal.” Rubio: “A deal is not a deal when you’re dealing with terrorists.” (where was this Rubio a month ago?)
• Aaaand Ben Carson: “Can somebody attack me please?” about two hours into the debate. / To evaluate a SCOTUS nominee: “I would look at what a person’s life has been … the fruit salad of their life.” – VIRAL / On health care: “Uncle Joe is smokin’ like a chimney.” / Opening statement: the country is “heading off the abyss of destruction.” aaaah Ben


• In an interview Thursday with Fusion, former Mexican president Vicente Fox succinctly put the views of Mexicans on Donald Trump’s border wall: “I’m not going to pay for that fuc#ing wall! He should pay for it. He’s got the money.” Trump later tweeted that Fox should apologize for the profanity… pot = kettle


Kansas Mass Shooting: Four Dead (AP, CNN, KWCH, me)

• A gunman armed with an “assault-style” weapon drove through Hesston, Kansas, taking shots at people, before storming the lawn mower factory where he worked. Authorities said he killed three people and wounded 14 before being shot dead by an officer. He’s been identified as Cedric Ford, an employee who was working at the plant yesterday

• All the dead were shot Thursday inside Excel Industries, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said. Of those hurt, 10 were critically wounded, he said. Walton said there were “some things that triggered this individual.” The shooting comes less than a week after a mass shooting in Kalamazoo, Mich, that left six dead and two severely wounded (WTF is going on?)

• The shootings began about 5 pm when the gunman was in a car and shot a man on the street in the nearby town of Newton, striking him in the shoulder. A short time later, another person was shot in the leg at an intersection

• “The shooter proceeded north to Excel Industries in Hesston, where one person was shot in the parking lot before he opened fire inside the building,” the dept said in a release. “He was seen entering the building with an assault-style long gun.”

• Matt Jarrell, a painter at Excel, had been friends with the shooter for years. “Never in a million years” would he expect his friend to do something like this, he said. “He was a mellow guy. He was somebody I could talk to about anything.” (apparently not that mellow)


• Democrats get ready to vote in the South Carolina primary Saturday with Hillary Clinton in a comfortable lead over Bernie Sanders due to her advantage with black voters. He’s focusing on the Great Lakes region in states that hold early March primaries. It’s Super Tuesday next week – and both campaigns know how important that is

Democrats’ SCOTUS Shame Campaign (Politico, NYT, Roll Call, Hill, me)
• About a dozen Senate Democrats stood in front of the Supreme Court building Thursday, where they criticized Republicans for refusing to consider any nominee to fill the spot left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. “We have obstruction that is on steroids,” said Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev). “We want them to do their jobs.” (good luck with that)
• But Sen John Cornyn (R-Texas), the No 2 Republican, on the Senate floor, urged Democrats to get back to work on other concerns. “This is a matter of disagreement. There is no question about it. But it doesn’t mean that just because we are divided along party lines on this mater, that there’s other things we can’t do together.” (like sing kumbaya?)
• Republicans remained rigid in saying they simply will not let President Obama shift the ideological balance of the court. One potential nominee whose name had leaked out, Brian Sandoval, Nevada’s moderate Republican governor, sent out a statement that he didn’t wish to be considered for the job (that’s one lamb not ready for sacrifice)
• Sen Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said that Obama, in a brief, private meeting on the sidelines of a WH gathering on Wednesday, had told him “he’ll send me somebody that’ll be moderate.” WH spox Josh Earnest refused to confirm the details of Obama’s conversation with Hatch, noting the lack of a “transcript.”
• Reid, Hatch and Judiciary chair Sen Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) traded nasty barbs on the Senate floor on Thursday. Obama will convene a meeting on Tuesday with the Senate Republican and Democratic leaders and the Judiciary committee heads to discuss a nominee – though Grassley made clear on Thursday there would be no hearing for any nominee


• Polls are open today in Iran’s parliamentary elections, the country’s first since the nuclear deal last summer. Iranians also vote for the Assembly of Experts, a clerical body in theory empowered to choose the next supreme leader. Half the candidates were barred from running by a hardline committee, so not exactly free and fair
Apple: FBI Seeks “Dangerous Power” – iPhone (AP, me)
• Apple on Thursday asked a federal magistrate to reverse her order that the company help the FBI hack into a locked iPhone. “No court has ever authorized what the govt now seeks, no law supports such unlimited and sweeping use of the judicial process, and the Constitution forbids it,” Apple said
• The filing represents Apple’s first official response since Magistrate Sheri Pym’s (who’s a former federal prosecutor) order last week when she ordered Apple to help the FBI gain access to a phone used by Syed Farook, one of the assailants in the San Bernardino attacks. A hearing is scheduled for next month
• The DOJ is proposing a “boundless interpretation” of the law that, if left unchecked, could bring disastrous repercussions, Apple warned in a memo to Pym. “The govt says: ‘Just this once’ and ‘Just this phone.’ But the govt knows those statements are not true,” lawyers for Apple wrote
• If Apple were required to build the software the FBI wants, the lawyers argued, “criminals, terrorists and hackers will no doubt view the code as a major prize and can be expected to go to considerable lengths to steal it.” (of course they can)


• DOJ lawyers were reviewing Apple’s brief and will respond, said spox Melanie Newman. She said Apple had reversed “its long-standing” cooperation with govt requests, and that when DOJ officials want to search a phone or other electronic device, “we narrowly target our request to apply to the individual device” and get a judge’s approval (phone by phone)
• Federal agents haven’t been able to open Farook’s phone because they don’t know the passcode. The DOJ wants Apple to create specialized software for the iPhone that would bypass some security features so that the FBI can try as many passcodes as possible without the data being erased
• The DOJ has repeatedly maintained that it’s seeking software for just one phone as part of an investigation into an act of terrorism and that Apple could retain and destroy the software once the process ends. Apple said the specialized software doesn’t currently exist (but it’s actually going after at least nine other iPhones in non-terrorism related cases)
• Apple accused the govt of working under a closed courtroom process under the auspices of a terrorism investigation of trying “to cut off debate and circumvent thoughtful analysis.” Plus, Apple invoked the First Amendment in arguing the computer code is akin to free speech and forcing it to write new software would run afoul of its constitutional rights


• President Obama on Thursday directed his national security team to press the U.S.-led international campaign to destroy ISIS “on all fronts.” On the Syrian ceasefire due to take effect Saturday, he said it’s a “test” of whether the parties are committed to broader negotiations. “The world will be watching,” he said (AP)
House Hardliners: Blow Up Budget Deal (Politico, me)
• The leadership of the hardline conservative Republican Study Committee privately decided Thursday they would push top House lawmakers to abandon the 2015 budget deal and push for steep cuts, the group’s chairman wrote in an email to colleagues. So – serious doubt whether the House will be able to pass a 2017 budget – here we go
• “The following position passed with over a 2/3rds vote,” chair Bill Flores (R-Texas) wrote to his colleagues Thursday. “The House budget should cap discretionary spending at $1.04 trillion dollars … with offsetting savings achieved through reductions in non-defense discretionary spending or through enacted mandated spending reforms of sufficient magnitude.”
• Flores wrote to his colleagues that “we are keeping this confidential while we work with House Leadership and Budget Chairman
[Tom] Price…” Flores also told his colleagues that, “unfortunately, some of these elements … were leaked to the press.” (ooops – not so confidential, then)
• Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) and Price (R-Ga) have already come under heavy pressure from hardline conservatives in the Freedom Caucus to renege on the budget deal with President Obama and Democrats and cut tens of billions of dollars – which Ryan doesn’t want to do. And moderate GOPers are bound to kick and scream about this
• The RSC position makes passing a budget extraordinarily difficult. Ryan has said that a lower budget number would make it nearly impossible to launch a successful appropriations process. That means Congress will likely be forced to fund the govt in Oct by passing a continuing resolution – which conservatives say they hate (cut off noses to spite faces)
Diverse Movies Make More $$$$$ (AP, me)
• Movies make more money when exactly half their casts are non-white, according to an annual analysis released Thursday that shows an increasing demand for diversity in film. In previous years, movies did better at the box office if two or three of the top eight billed actors were non-white. In 2014, four of eight was the magic number, ticket sales show
• “Those aren’t momentary glitches. It’s the handwriting on the wall,” and it points to how profoundly out of touch the motion picture academy is when giving Oscars to only white actors, said Darnell Hunt, who directs the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (yeah, let’s look like America)
• The best performers, with a median ticket revenue of $122.2 million, turned out to be movies in which half the main cast was non-white. That’s more than double the $52.6 million median haul for films with no non-white actors in the top eight. Films where more than half the principal actors were non-white also did worse: median of $52.4 million
• It stands to reason why a modestly diverse cast pays off. In the U.S., Caucasians remained the largest moviegoing demographic in 2014 at 54%, according to the Motion Picture Assn of America. But U.S. Hispanic and Asian audiences punch above their weight, making up a greater proportion of frequent moviegoers than their population
• The motion picture academy has been responding to an uproar after nominating an all-white acting pool for the Oscars again this year. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has taken steps to diversify the membership of the overwhelmingly white and male institution. (#OscarsSoWhite are this Sunday night – Chris Rock hosts. One for the ages?)

• Rocking into the weekend with the rollicking “S.O.B.” – Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats

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Victoria Jones – Editor