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
  • Dems: Down & dirty debate
  • GOP candidates’ corner
  • January jobs: 4 things to watch
  • Pharma bro finally shuts up
  • Energy bill blocked over Flint aid
  • Obama to propose $10-a-barrel fee on oil
 
Dems: Down & Dirty Debate (NYT, Politico, Politico, AP, AP, me)
• Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders finally took the gloves off in an MSNBC Democratic debate at the University of New Hampshire Thursday night. Clinton accused Sanders of smearing her record and treating her differently because she’s a woman. Sanders was taken aback: “Whoa, whoa, whoa…wow.” (several  Democratic women senators will stump for her today)
 
• “If you’ve got something to say, say it directly,” Clinton said, of Sanders’ repeated insinuations that she’s beholden to her big money donors. “It’s time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out.” Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow moderated – and largely let the candidate have at it (which was smart – as they went for it)
 
• “A progressive is someone who makes progress,” a clearly unhappy Clinton said of Sanders’ attempts to paint her as a moderate. “That’s what I intend to do. Cherry-picking a quote here or there doesn’t change my record.” “It wasn’t me paraphrasing her,” Sanders said. “It is what she said, and all I said was there’s nothing wrong with being a moderate.” (is in 2016)
 
• When Sanders freshly accused Clinton of being part of the “establishment” that he’s railing against, Clinton had a ready response: “Honestly, Sen Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment.” (expect to hear a lot more of the woman card – it’s back)

 

• Watch: Hillary Clinton demurs on whether she will release transcripts of her paid speeches to Wall Street interests and others
 
• “Sec Clinton does represent the establishment,” Sanders said. “I represent – I hope – ordinary Americans.” “I am very proud to be the only candidate up here who does not have super PAC, who’s not raising huge sums from Wall Street and special interests.”
 
• Asked if she would release transcripts of her paid speeches to Wall Street interests and others, Clinton demurred, saying: “I’ll look into it. She had really bombed a day earlier as she tried to explain why she accepted $675,000 for three speeches from Goldman Sachs. “That’s what they offered,” she had said, shrugging – (looking like Marie Antoinette, offering them cake)
 
• Sanders renewed his criticism of Clinton for her vote as a senator to authorize the war in Iraq, a vote she later said was a mistake. Clinton: “A vote in 2002 is not a plan to defeat ISIS. We have to look at the threats we face right now.” (point) Sanders said that while Clinton had been secstate: “experience is not the only point. Judgment is.” (point)
 
• Clinton said she was “100% confident” nothing would come of her email controversy. “This is an absurdity.” She used the opportunity to slam the process of “retroactive classification” of emails as a target for reform

 

• Watch: The crowd claps and then boos as tempers flare and Hillary Clinton accuses Bernie Sanders of a smear campaign
 
• On the death penalty, Clinton argued it should be allowed in extremely rare circumstances if a state meets “the highest standards of evidentiary proof.” Sanders argued that the death penalty had often been applied to innocent people and “I just don’t believe that govt itself should be part of the killing.”
 
• They agreed on urgent action to fix the Flint water crisis. But Sanders said he wondered whether, if Flint were “a white suburban community, what kind of response there would have been.” (Clinton first got out ahead of this in a previous debate – now he’s taking over the issue)
 
• When Sanders was asked to answer for a series of issues that have cropped up among his campaign workers – from the DNC data breach, to misrepresenting themselves as Culinary Union workers in Las Vegas, to apparently falsely suggesting a New Hampshire paper endorse him – the senator labored through his explanations (weakest point of the night for him)
 
• All smiles at the end of the debate. “If I’m so fortunate as to be the nominee, the first person I will call to talk to about where we go and how we get it done will be Sen Sanders,” Clinton said. Sanders returned the peace offering, noting campaigns can “get out of hand.” Handshake – loud ovation from appreciative Democrats in the audience (back to HQs to plot next attacks…)

 

GOP Candidates’ Corner (WSJ, Politico, Politico, Politico, me)
• Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas), campaigning in Hooksett, NH, opened up Thursday about his half-sister, who died of an overdose as he worked to connect with voters in a state where heroin addiction is a major problem. He read stat that said 48% of the people of New Hampshire know someone who has abused heroin in the last five years (stunning)
 
• Carly Fiorina has been excluded from Saturday’s Republican debate in Manchester, NH, ABC News announced on Thursday. The former Hewlett Packard CEO has lagged her GOP rivals in national and state-level polls, but she complained in a letter to the RNC that the debate process is “broken” and is asking for intervention (she’s also been playing the woman card)
 
• A day after accusing Cruz of “illegally” stealing the Iowa caucuses on Monday, Donald Trump now says he doesn’t care. “I’m so much – because I’ve been now here
[NH] for two days – I’m so much into this – into New Hampshire, that I just, I don’t care about that anymore,” Trump told CNN
 
• Asked on MSNBC to name a single accomplishment of Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla) since he got into the Senate, former Sen Rick Santorum (R-Pa) – who has endorsed Rubio – wouldn’t name anything. Pressed: “He spent four years in the U.S. Senate being frustrated like everybody else that nothing got done.” (ouch – immigration bill – which Rubio has disavowed – ouch ouch)
 
January Jobs: 4 Things to Watch (WSJ, me)
• The U.S. job market strengthened in 2015, posting its second-best year of job gains since 1999. How about January? We’ll find out at 8:30 am ET today when the Labor Dept releases the jobs report. Economists forecast employers added 185,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate held steady at 5%
 
Pace of growth: Pace is expected to slow to 185,000 from December’s 292,000. The Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates in Dec and has said it plans to tighten further this year. A weak report would cement doubts, voiced by several central bankers in recent days, about strength of the U.S. economy in the face of global uncertainty and weak energy prices
 
Financial market swoon: Stock markets got off to a miserable start in 2016. Nonetheless, consumers’ confidence rose in January to the highest level since October, indicating that Americans are so far brushing off gyrations in the financial markets. Did U.S. businesses hesitate to hire?
 
Deep dip: In December, the unemployment rate held at 5% despite strong hiring. Dipping below the psychologically significant threshold in the first month of the year would mark further evidence of the economy’s recovery
 
Weather woes: Economists warn that today’s numbers could be thrown by the fact that December was unseasonably warn, which propelled hiring in the construction sector. The January blizzard hit after jobs data was collected. The data could give further clues about how the colder January shaped employers’ hiring

 

• Wikileaks founder Julian Assange  should be allowed to walk free and be compensated for his “deprivation of liberty,” a UN legal panel has found. Assange, 44, who faces extradition to Sweden over a rape claim, which he denies, claimed asylum in London’s Ecuadorean embassy in 2012. The UK Foreign Office says it will “formally contest the working group’s opinion” BBC

 

Pharma Bro Finally Shuts Up (Daily Beast, Hill, Roll Call, me)
• In a way, former pharmaceutical chief Martin Shkreli’s appearance in front of the House Oversight Committee was a relief because he finally quit talking. “Do you think you’ve done anything wrong? Chair Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) asked him. Sporting a smirk,Shkreli took the Fifth “on the advice of counsel”
 
• Ever since the ex-CEO of Turing came into the public eye for raising the price of life-saving drug Duraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill, he hasn’t shut up. Whether he was quoting Eminem lyrics to defend the price hike, insulting his critics on Twitter, or livestreaming from his Brooklyn apartment, the accused fraudster hasn’t stopped for months. Until Thursday morning
 
• Smiling mockingly, Shkreli pleaded the Fifth in response to every question except one from Rep Trey Gowdy about the pronunciation of his last name. “See there! You can answer some questions!” Gowdy joked. “I intend to follow the advice of my counsel, not yours,” Shkreli snarked back
 
• He grinned and laughed at ranking member Rep Elijah Cummings (D-Md), who said: “You have a spotlight and you have a platform, you can use that to come clean to right your wrong, and to become one of the most effective patient advocates in the country.” Shkreli kept smirking, twiddling with his pencil and looking away from the committee
 

• Once Chaffetz excused Shkreli from the hearing, he and lawyer Benjamin Brafman met in the hallway to answer questions from reporters. “I think everyone will recognize that Mr Shkreli is not a villain. At the end of this story, he is a hero.” Shkreli, glaring at the group, didn’t speak. But he tweeted: “Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government.” Committee was not amused

• Former SecState Colin Powell says the FBI has contacted him about his use of personal email when he was the nation’s top diplomat, as a review conducted by State’s IG concluded that Powell and former SecState Condoleezza Rice both received classified info through classified email accounts. “They were unclassified at the time,” Powell said – and in his view, still are (Politico)

 
Energy Bill Blocked Over Flint Aid (AP, Reuters, AP, Roll Call, me)
• Fifteen Senate Republicans joined most Senate Democrats Thursday and blocked 46-50 the first bipartisan energy bill in almost a decade after majority Republicans balked over sending $300 million in emergency aid to Flint, Mich, to fix and replace the city’s lead-contaminated pipes
 
• Democrats pressed for swift help for a majority African-American city of 100,000 and point to the past, rapid response of Republicans to natural disasters in Texas and Florida. “Nine thousand little children … have been poisoned. Still, Senate Republicans refuse to help,” said Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev)
 
• The bill promotes a wide range of energy, from renewables such as solar and wind power to natural gas and hydropower. The legislation also would speed approval of projects to export liquefied natural gas to Europe and Asia and boost energy efficiency. GOP leadership said Republicans and Democrats would work through the weekend to try to salvage the bill
 
• Meanwhile, emails between Michigan state officials show they knew about an uptick in Legionnaires disease and that it could be linked to problems with Flint water many months before Gov Rick Snyder (R) said he received info of the outbreak. There were 87 cases during a 17-month period, including nine deaths – but the public was never told
 
• Snyder said in Jan that he had just learned about the rise in Legionnaires cases. However, emails obtained by the liberal group Progress Michigan and released to reporters Thursday show Snyder’s principal adviser, Harvey Hollins, was made aware of the outbreak and a possible link to the use of Flint River water last March. No comment so far from a Snyder spox (i’ll bet)
 
 

• Must-watch: Michigan Judge Vonda Evans rips into, happily for all, former police officer William Melendez, to whom she gives the maximum 10 years for his involvement in a 2015 police brutality case against Floyd Dent, a black man. It involved – naturally – a minor traffic stop. Thank you, your honor
 

 
Obama to Propose $10-a-Barrel Fee on Oil (AP, me)
• President Obama wants oil companies to pay a $10 fee for every barrel of oil to help fund investments in clean transportation that fight climate change. He’ll propose it in his budget request to Congress next Tuesday. (so it’s going nowhere, then…) The $10 fee would be phased in over five years
 
• House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) called the plan “dead on arrival” and “an election-year distraction.” Neal Kirby, spox for the American Petroleum Institute, said “It’s a tax on American consumers who are currently benefiting from low home heating and transportation costs. API projected that the fee would raise the cost of gasoline by 25 cents a gallon
 
• Transportation Sec Anthony Foxx notes, “Businesses waste tens of billions of dollars each year in freight costs due to inadequate infrastructure and Americans currently spend a total of 7 billion hours stuck in traffic each year, and traffic is getting worse year after year. This is the hidden tax.”
 
• The WH said the revenue from the fee would provide $20 billion per year for traffic reduction, expanding investment in transit systems and new modest of transportation like high-speed rail. It would also revamp how regional transportation systems are funded
 

• The WH said the tax would provide for the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund to ensure the nation maintains its infrastructure. The added cost of gasoline would create a clear incentive for the private sector to reduce the nation’s reliance on oil and drive investments in clear energy technology
 

• Rocking into the weekend with – why is 2016 taking so many greats? – “September” – Earth, Wind & Fire. RIP legendary founder Maurice White, 74 – had Parkinson’s. He said in an AP interview that the whole objective was “to try to inspire young people to believe in themselves and to follow through on their ideas.”


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Victoria Jones – Editor