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: KKK what now?
  • Sessions endorses Trump
  • Piling on Trump
  • Clinton: “Make America whole”
  • #OscarsSoWhite: Meet Chris Rock
  • SCOTUS: Prosecutor / judge combo?
  • Senate: Opioid bill battle hits
  • Iran: “Moderates” move on up
Trump: KKK What Now? (Reuters, Politico, AP, Daily Beast, NYT, NYDN, WaPo, CNN, me)
• Trump came under fire from rival campaigns Sunday for a (feigned) ignorant response on CNN to ex-KKK leader David Duke’s support for him. “Well, just so you understand I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK? I don’t even know what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.” Strange – Trump disavowed Duke’s support on Friday
• Pressed, Trump said, “I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about.” Jake Tapper again clarified that he was referring to the Ku Klux Klan. Trump in 2000 said that Duke, “a neo-Nazi,” wasn’t company he wished to keep as a member of the Reform Party (lame-oh memory for a wannabe president)
• Duke said Sunday, “If he disavows me, fine. Let him do whatever he thinks he needs to do to become president of the U.S.”  Duke said Trump probably knows him based on media reports, “created by Jewish Zionists.” Trump disavowed Duke again on Twitter later on Sunday (blathering, blatant – lying –  to say you don’t know about “white supremacy” or the KKK)
• “We cannot be a party who refuses to condemn white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan,” Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla) told thousands of supporters in Virginia. Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tweeted: “America’s first black president cannot and will not be succeeded by a hatemonger who refuses to condemn the KKK.” Hillary Clinton retweeted it
• In 1927, NYT reported Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father, as being among a group of people arrested and then discharged by police in response to a KKK rally that had turned violent in Queens, NY. Asked about it by NYT, Trump’s replies were denial + trash media. Essentially; “It shouldn’t be written because it never happened No 1, and No 2 there was nobody charged.”
Sessions Endorses Trump
• Sen Jeff Sessions (R-Ala), known for his virulent, hardline opposition to the immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013, which included a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, endorsed Donald Trump on Sunday, a major blow to Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Sessions has been huddling with Trump since early last year
• On Saturday in Arkansas, Trump claimed the Trump University (scam?) case should have been thrown out years ago, and noted “tremendous hostility toward me by the judge.” Trump then said: “I believe he happens to be Spanish, which is fine. He’s Hispanic, which is fine.” Sunday, Trump said he thought it was because Trump is “very strong at the border.” (white victim!)
• According to the California class-action suit in front of Judge Gonzalo Curiel, a one-year apprenticeship that Trump University students were promised ended after students paid for a three-day seminar. Attendees promised a personal photo with Trump received only the chance to take a photo with a cardboard cutout (dunno – might go for that instead, myself)
• Meanwhile, former Mexican President Felipe Calderon told reporters in Mexico City on Saturday: “He is acting and speaking out against immigrants that have a different skin color than he does, it is frankly racist and
[he is] exploiting feelings like Hitler did in his time.” (oh – and Trump retweeted a Mussolini quotation and defended it as “interesting”… come on…)


• Super Tuesday tomorrow: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia – GOP and Democrats. Alaska: GOP caucuses. Colorado: Democrats caucuses. American Samoa: Democrats / 661 GOP delegates / 865 Democratic delegates

Piling on Trump (Politico, Politico, AP, Hill, Hill, WSJ, me)

• Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speculated Sunday on NBC: “ABC, CNN, multiple news reports about some of his [Donald Trump’s] dealings with, for example, S&A Construction, which was owned by ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno, who is a mobster who is in jail.” Cruz mused: “It’s natural to wonder, ‘Well, what is it that he’s hiding in his taxes?'”

• Separately, former CIA director Michael Hayden on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” blasted Trump’s pro-torture boasts. Maher brought up Trump’s pledge to kill family members of ISIS members. “If he were to order that once in govt, the American armed forces would refuse to act,” Hayden said, adding “you’re required to not follow an unlawful order.”

• Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla) said in Georgia on Saturday that Trump “is a guy who has been protected his whole life, and privileged his whole life, and insulated his life. There’s nothing tough about any of that. This is a massive fraud that he is perpetuating.” Cruz and Rubio released summary pages of several years of their tax returns on Saturday

• Rubio let loose on Trump, saying he was “flying around on Hair Force One.” Rubio referenced a tweet Trump put out of Rubio having makeup put on at the debate: “Which is amazing to me, that the guy with the worst spray tan in America is attacking me for putting on makeup.” Later, Rubio pointed out Trump’s “small hands,” – Trump’s short fingers have often set him off…

• Trump, on CNN on Sunday, rejected calls from Cruz and Rubio – Trump repeatedly called him “Little Marco” – to release his taxes, claiming he can’t share returns that are under IRS audit (not true – release earlier years, then) “You can’t tell much from tax returns, anyway” Trump said (a bald-faced untruth)


• “I would absolutely work to open up the libel laws,” Trump said on Fox News Sunday. Asked about a change to the Constitution, Trump didn’t respond. Instead: “In England, I can tell you it’s very much different and very much easier.” (no First Amendment, but British libel laws are quite tough – a public figure has to prove actual malice to get damages)


Clinton: “Make America Whole” (NYT, Politico, WSJ, me)
• A day after black voters delivered Hillary Clinton an overwhelming victory in the South Carolina primary, she spoke at two Memphis churches, vowing to “tackle the continuing challenge of systemic racism.” “America has never stopped being great,” she said to a resounding amen. “Our task is to make America whole.” (Bill started the theme last week)
• After capturing nearly 74% of the black vote in South Carolina, Clinton hopes that deep reservoir of support will propel her to victories against Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) in Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, and Texas in Democratic primaries on Super Tuesday – 1 March. She said Saturday night her campaign is “going national”
• Sanders said on CBS on Sunday that Saturday’s defeat was “about as bad as it’s going to get,” but “on Tuesday, we’re going to have over 800 delegates being selected. I think we’re going to win a very good share of those delegates. You’ve got major states coming up.” (no winner-takes-all states on Tuesday)
• Sanders said he believes he will win Tuesday in Minnesota, Colorado, Oklahoma and his home state Vermont. He said he expected to “do really well in Massachusetts.” Sanders acknowledged that his campaign “did really badly with older African American voters, I mean, we got decimated.” (no sign that he’s going to turn that around)
• Clinton didn’t mention Trump by name on Sunday, but she continued with a new theme: “I know it’s kind of odd sometimes when people hear me talking about, as I did last night in South Carolina, how we need more love and kindness, but I believe that with all my heart.” she said ( kind of odd because it’s kind of new for you… love and kindness aren’t odd)


• At least 1,818 emails that Clinton sent as SecState on her home private server contained classified material, according to the State Dept’s latest update from its ongoing review of more than 30,000 emails. State released 1,589 pages of emails Friday in response to a court order. 88 contained classified info – none marked so at time of sending. More today… (McClatchy)


#OscarsSoWhite: Meet Chris Rock (NYT, AP, LAT, me)
• Host Chris Rock didn’t waste any time at the 88th Academy Awards Sunday night, welcoming the audience to the “White People’s Choice Awards.” He noted that if they’d nominated potential hosts, “I wouldn’t have this job. You’d all be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.” Rock ended the the show: “Black lives matter.”
• Rock mused why there hadn’t been protests back in the 60s when there must have been years with no black Oscar nominees. “Why? Because we had real things to protest. We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer.”
• This year, he joked, “The In Memoriam package, it’s just going to be black people that were shot by the cops on their way to the movies.”
• He reassured the crowd that Hollywood wasn’t “cross-burning racist,” but it was “sorority racist. It’s like: ‘We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa!'”
• In a joke montage, gags were inserted into some of this year’s movies. In one, Rock was an astronaut left up on Mars, a la The Martian, But this time, Jeff Daniels and Kristen Wiig at NASA decided not to bring him back since it would cost 2,500 “white dollars.” (ouch)


Oscars 2016: Spotlight Surprise (NYT, LAT, WaPo, me)
• Tom McCarthy’s “Spotlight,” a newspaper drama about the Catholic Church cover-up of sexual abuse by priests, snatched best picture on Sunday, even as Leonardo DiCaprio won best actor, his first Oscar, for “The Revenant, and Alejandro Inarritu was named best director for the same film
• Brie Larson won best actress for “Room”; Alicia Vikander was named best supporting actress for “The Danish Girl”; and Mark Rylance was best supporting actor for “Bridge of Spies.”
• VP Joe Biden introduced Lady Gaga’s performance of “Til It Happens To You” from “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about campus sexual assault. The original song Oscar instead went to the (absolutely dreadful) “Writing’s on the Wall” from “Spectre.” Sam Smith dedicated his award to LGBT communities around the world
• Best foreign language film was “Son of Saul,” a Holocaust film from Hungary, and a reminder that the movie culture is international (and that six million Jews and others were massacred – let’s not forget right now). Best documentary feature was “Amy” about the singer Amy Winehouse, who died of substance abuse
• Brutal action fable “Mad Max: Fury Road” won six craft awards, many by women. For only the second time since the 1960s, fully half of the 20 acting nominees were not just white, but from countries that belong to the Commonwealth (winner of the night was Chris Rock. White? Uncomfortable much? He went on too long? So what? It’s a lifetime if you’re black)

• A man in southern China stabbed 10 schoolchildren before killing himself this morning, state-run media reported. All the children survived and were hospitalized. The motive for the attack remains unclear (CNN, me) (wonder what the outcome would have been with an assault weapon – can take a guess)


SCOTUS: Prosecutor / Judge Combo? (AP, me)

• Terrance “Terry” Williams says his prosecutor became his judge when Philadelphia DA Ronald Castille signed off on Williams’ death penalty prosecution in 1986, and as chief justice of the state supreme court nearly 29 years later, participated in the unanimous vote that reinstated Williams’ death sentence (sounds a bit iffy)

• Castille’s actions are before SCOTUS today, when eight justices will hear arguments – Justice Antonin Scalia has died. Williams’ lawyer said Castille had a clear conflict of interest and should have stepped aside, especially because a lower court judge found that prosecutors working for Castille hid evidence in Williams’ murder trial

• Castille, now retired, refused requests to withdraw from the case. Former appellate judges, former prosecutors and legal ethicists are among those calling for a new sentencing hearing for Williams


• Philadelphia prosecutors argue that Castille played only a fleeting part in Williams’ prosecution, limited to signing off on the decision to seek the death penalty. (err – quite big for Williams, that). Williams, a former star high school quarterback, was accused of killing a church deacon – and already convicted of killing a high school booster

• A lower court threw out his death sentence. The judge found that Philadelphia prosecutors had withheld evidence that the deacon was molesting boys. Williams claimed the deacon had sexually abused him for years, although he didn’t make that allegation at his trial

• A second issue today is whether Castille’s involvement even matters when he didn’t cast a deciding vote, an issue that has divided lower federal courts. Williams’ lawyers note that Castille boasted when he campaigned for the supreme court of the 45 death penalty cases he approved when he was DA


Senate: Opioid Bill Battle (Hill, me)

• Senate Democrats are signaling that they’re ready to fight to include $600 million in emergency funding in a bipartisan bill tackling the nation’s growing opioid addiction, which is backed by Sen Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). She represents a state with a serious heroin and opioid problem

• The bill, backed by Sens Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) comes to the floor today. Portman is in a tough reelection race this year. Passage would also be a nice victory for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) to argue the chamber is functioning despite the debacle over a SCOTUS nominee (which it sort of isn’t)

• A test vote comes today when the Senate votes to end debate on taking up the Comprehensive Addiction or Recovery Act or CARA. The bill would authorize – but not appropriate – funding for programs to combat prescription drug and heroin abuse, in addition to increasing the availability of naloxone, a drug to treat overdose

• Democrats have specifically sidestepped if they’re willing to sink the bill, but senators are trying to shut down a nasty floor fight before it starts and avoid “poison pill” amendments. Senate aides, separately, suggested that negotiations over a path forward were playing out at the leadership level

• Dozens of organizations sent a letter to McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) last week urging them to make sure CARA passes. The CDC reported last month that drug overdoes deaths reached historic levels in 2014, with an individual more likely to die of an overdose than in a car crash (stunning)


Iran: “Moderates” Move On Up (Reuters, NYT, BBC, me)

• President Hassan Rouhani and his allies won 15 out of the 16 Tehran seats in the Assembly of Experts, final elections results today showed, ousting two prominent hardliners. The results suggest conservatives may lose their dominance of the body, which is tasked with choosing the next supreme leader

• The top vote-getter in Tehran was pragmatic (sort of) pro-reform former President Hashemi Rafsanjani. A statement from his office said: “No one is able to resist against the will of the majority of the people and whoever the people don’t want has to step aside.”

• The Friday elections for the assembly and the parliament were the first since Rouhani signed a nuclear deal with world powers last June in return for an easing of economic sanctions (what difference the elections will make for human and religious rights is anyone’s guess – not a massive lot, probably)

• Rouhani’s allies were also due to take all 30 parliamentary seats in the Tehran constituency, according to preliminary results. But their gains outside the capital were more limited, with conservatives keeping hold of many seats in both bodies (remember that a boatload of “moderate” candidates were barred from running by the hardline Guardian Council)

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Victoria Jones – Editor