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

  • “Most hated man” on the Hill today
  • Dem town hall: “Progressive” squabble
  • Trump accuses Cruz: “Fraud!”
  • Rand & Rick bite the dust
  • Obama visits mosque: Denounces bigotry
  • Flint water hearing: Outrage
  • Syria peace talks: “Pause”


Most Hated Man: On the Hill Today (Market Watch, Reuters, me)
• Martin Shkreli, 32, the (revolting) former drug exec who raised the price of a lifesaving medicine by 5,000% overnight, is set to appear before the House Oversight Committee at 9:00 am today, but is expected to take the Fifth. His lawyer said Wednesday the reason was the unrelated criminal charges that Shkreli defrauded investors – running a Ponzi scheme
• Executives from drug companies Turing – Shkreli’s former company from which he’s been fired – and Valeant, will also appear. Docs suggest that Valeant hiked the cost of two heart medicines for the “material pricing potential” by 525% and 212% respectively. And another 20 drugs by more than 200% between 2014 and 2015 (gag me with a spoon)
• Excerpts from docs show how Shkreli and Turing tried to maximize profits from Daraprim, while warding off potential PR backlash from HIV patients who rely on the drug, which treats a parasitic infection. “Very good. Nice work as usual. $1bn here we come,” Shkreli (gleefully) wrote in a May email to the board
• In Aug 2015, Shkreli wrote: “I think it will be huge. We raised the price from $1,700 per bottle to $75,000…So 5,000 paying bottles at the new price is $375,000,000 – almost all of it is profit and I think we will get 3 years of that or more. Should be a very handsome investment for all of us.” (simply aren’t enough high calorie snacks for this hearing – or a vomit bucket)
• Turing even brushed off a request to help a sick dog. Walgreens pleaded in Oct 2015: “I have an unusual request. There is a dog that is a patient and he needs Daraprim…the cost of what was prescribed is $5,000 for this little guy.” Turing: “You can buy Pyramethamine/Sulfa
[sic] combo pills from a vet meds website for about $80.” (someone line up the pitbull attack squad)


• Gov Rick Scott (R-Fla) has declared a health emergency in four counties of the state because of the Zika virus. At least nine cases of the mosquito-borne virus have been detected in Florida. Health officials believe all the cases are from people who contracted the disease while traveling to affected countries (AP)
Dem Town Hall: “Progressive” Squabble (Politico, Politico, NYT, me)
• Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders clashed over who was a progressive at a town hall on CNN Wednesday night. Clinton was on defense over high speaking fees from Goldman Sachs. “Well, I don’t know know. That’s what they offered,” she said (lamely) when asked by Anderson Cooper whether she needed to be paid for three speeches amounting to $675,000
• Sanders suggested the former secstate was a newcomer to the progressive cause. He made clear his respect for Clinton, then: “There are some other issues, Anderson, where she is just not progressive. I don’t know any progressive who has a super PAC that takes $15 million from Wall Street.” (Clinton has just postponed another financial services fundraiser)
• He added: “The key foreign decision of modern American history was the war in Iraq. The progressive community was pretty united in saying, ‘Don’t listen to Bush, don’t go to war.’ Secretary Clinton voted to go to war.” (he also unleashed a Twitter sh*tstorm on Wednesday, with furious pushback from Clinton and Sen Barbara Boxer (D-Calif – a progressive)
• When Clinton was up next – they appeared separately – she shot back. Under his definition, she said, “Barack Obama would not be a progressive, Joe Biden would not be a progressive. Sen Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) would not be a progressive, even the late, great Sen Paul Wellstone would not be a progressive.” (point)
• Sanders conceded: “in some areas, for example, in the trade area” Obama hadn’t lived up to liberals’ hopes. Clinton said of Sanders’ 70-point win among young voters: “I accept that I have work to do.” “They don’t need to be for me, I’ll be for them. It doesn’t really matter.” (yes. it really does. to them) MSNBC debate tonight in New Hampshire: 9:00 pm EST
• A pol as good samaritan? Bernie Sanders on Wednesday stops mid-sentence during a presser and rushes to the aid of a man who had passed out. The man lies on the ground for a bit before being helped out of the room – watch the Vine


Trump Accuses Cruz: “Fraud!” (Politico, Hill, me)
• Trump’s whining now. He tweeted Wed morning: “Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he illegally stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong any [sic] why he got more votes than anticipated. Bad!” The tweet was deleted within minutes of posting and replaced by another without the word “illegally.” At a “yuuuge” rally in Little Rock Wed night: “Actually I think I came in first.” (yawn)
• Trump followed up Wed morning with an ultimatum: “Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified,” he tweeted. Trump said later that he’ll likely sue. “I probably will; what he did is unthinkable,” he said on Boston Herald Radio (it’s normal, dear)
• Further morning tweets accused Cruz’s campaign of spreading rumors that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race and of committing fraud by sending out official-looking mailers to Iowa voters that said recipients were committing a violation by not participating in the caucuses (it’s called dirty tricks and as old as politics)
• “He’s losing it,” Cruz said later at a rally in Goffstown, NH. “We need a commander in chief, not a Twitter-er in chief. … I mean, we’re liable to wake up one morning and Donald, if he were president, would have nuked Denmark. That’s not the temperament of a leader to keep this country safe.” (think Cruz is more likely to carpet bomb Denmark…)

• A person close to Trump’s efforts said the campaign had received reports from Iowa of Marco Rubio supporters casting multiple caucus votes and of out-of-state Rubio staffers participating in the caucuses. Trump is also playing dumb as well as a whiner, saying on MSNBC Wednesday: “Don’t forget. Joe: I’m doing this for the first time. I’m like a rookie.”

• Watch: Jeb Bush on Wednesday in New Hampshire concludes what was described as (but this bit doesn’t sound like) a “fiery” speech where he vows to prioritize national security as president. Silence. “Please clap.” The crowd laughs then breaks into awkward applause – OMG – cringiest moment on the campaign trail this year


Rand & Rick Bite the Dust (NYT, me)
• Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky) and former Sen Rick Santorum (R-Pa) both ended their presidential campaigns on Wednesday. Paul, whose popular message of resistance to govt surveillance and foreign intervention fell out of fashion amid growing anxieties about terrorism dropped out after a disappointing fifth-place finish in Iowa, with 4.5% of the vote
• Uber-conservative Santorum, who failed to recapture the energy and enthusiasm that turned him into a serious challenger to Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination in 2012, endorsed Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla). Santorum said Rubio shares the “values we believe in” (tick tick tick Fiorina and Carson and Bush – oh and whatsisname yup – Gilmore)
• In a statement, Paul said he remained ready to “fight for the cause of liberty.” Though sometimes irascible, Paul seemed to offer an inclusive vision for the GOP, working across the aisle on issues like criminal justice reform. He also inherited the libertarian streak of his father former Rep Ron Paul (R-Texas), who ran for president several times


• A UN panel considering the alleged “unlawful detention” of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has ruled in his favor. He took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault claims. A warrant for his arrest remains in place. Wikileaks posted secret American docs on the internet – he’s concerned about extradition to US (BBC)
Obama Visits Mosque: Denounces Bigotry (Politico, me)
• President Obama reached out to Muslims in the U.S. on Wednesday in an impassioned speech at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, embracing them as part of “one American family,” implicitly criticizing the Republican presidential candidates and warning citizens not to be “bystanders to bigotry.” (bit late)
• In his first visit to a mosque in the U.S., Obama recited phrases from the Qu’ran and he praised American Muslims. “If we’re serious about freedom of religion – and I’m talking to my fellow Christians who are in the majority in this country – we have to understand that an attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths,” he said
• At the same time, Obama acknowledged that “a small fraction of Muslims propagate a perverted version of Islam.” “This is the truth. They are not the first extremists to misuse God’s name. We’ve seen it before across faiths. But right now there is an organized extremist element that draws selectively from Islamic tenets and twists them to justify terrorism.”
• GOP 2016er Donald Trump has proposed a ban on all non-U.S. Muslim entry into the country in response to terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Other Republicans favor variations on the ban. “We’re one American family and when any part of our family starts to feel separate or second-class or targeted, it tears at the very fabric of our nation,” Obama said
• A CNN/ORC poll in September found that 29% of Americans still believe Obama is a Muslim. He’s a Christian. “Thomas Jefferson’s opponents tried to stir things up by suggesting he was a Muslim. So I was not the first,” Obama said, to laughter. “It’s true, look it up. I’m in good company.”


• Asked about Obama’s visit to a mosque, Donald Trump snarked Wednesday on Fox News, “Maybe he feels comfortable there.” Trump made another birther reference on Tuesday at a NH rally when he (snidely) referenced Obama boarding Air Force One to celebrate “Christmas or whatever he celebrates.” (me, AP)
Flint Water Hearing: Outrage (Roll Call, WaPo, me)
• Wednesday, at a House Oversight Committee hearing on the Flint water crisis, lawmakers expresses bipartisan shock and anger about how residents of a mostly poor and black Michigan town were piped poisoned water for nearly 18 months while being told it was OK to drink. Their takeaway: A failure at every level of govt, from city to state to federal
• Chair Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was irate that Flint’s former emergency manager, Darrell Earley, had refused to testify. Congress issued a subpoena to Earley on Tuesday. “We’re calling on the U.S. Marshals to hunt him down and give him that – give him that subpoena,” Chaffetz declared. The audience – some from Michigan – applauded
• “It’s important for the EPA to tell people that their water is poisoning their kids,” Chaffetz shouted into his mic. “Why didn’t they do that? What good is the EPA if they can’t do that?”
• Ranking member Rep Elijah Cummings (D-Md) echoed his outrage, but stressed that state and local officials share much of the blame. “I want everyone who is responsible for this fiasco to be held responsible,” Cummings bellowed. “I’m not protecting anyone. That’s not our job. We are the last line of defense.” Chaffetz didn’t invite Gov Rick Snyder (R-Mich) to testify
• Rep Lacy Clay (D-Mo) asked Flint resident LeeAnne Walters, a mother of four who helped bring the tainted water to light: “How are your children?” “The one with the lead poisoning has a compromised immune system. He’s only gained three and a half pounds in the last year.” … As Clay talked again, Walters wiped away tears, then steadied herself for the next question


• Flint residents have a new concern: Some mortgage lenders say home buyers must prove there’s no contamination at a property or they won’t make a loan for its purchase (WSJ)

Syria Peace Talks: “Pause” (Reuters, me)
• UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura halted his efforts to conduct Syrian peace talks for three weeks on Wednesday after the army, backed by Russian air strikes, advanced against rebel forces north of Aleppo, choking opposition supply lines from Turkey to the city (US is effectively letting Russia win Syria back for Assad by doing nothing, it seems)

• “I have indicated from the first day that I won’t talk for the sake of talking,” de Mistura told reporters. A senior UN official told Reuters: “I think the special envoy decided to suspend the talks because the [UN] did not want to be associated with the Russian escalation in Syria, which risks undermining the talks completely.”

• “I don’t see why these air strikes should be stopped,” Russian FM Sergei Lavrov said, saying they were targeting al Qaeda-linked rebels. Opposition delegation coordinator Riad Hijab said there would be no ceasefire until a transition without President Assad was in place (so that’s going to be a long, long wait)

• Moscow accuses Washington, which is backing opponents of Assad, of supporting terrorists, while the State Dept said the air strikes around Aleppo focused mainly on Assad’s foes rather than the ISIS militants Russia says it’s trying to defeat. The UN said it had been told hundreds of families had been uprooted following “an unprecedented frequency” of air strikes


• Watch: Super Bowl 50 ad: Honda Ridgeline “A New Truck to Love” – Queen song – sung by sheep (love this ad)

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Victoria Jones – Editor