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

  • North Carolina bathroom law: Lawsuits fly
  • Ryan: Don’t “fake” party unity
  • Sanders: It’s not over
  • Garland: Questionnaire to Senate panel – unasked
  • Facebook accused of bias: Conservative news
  • Are they still reading our emails?
  • Maverick wins Philippines presidency: In quotes…
 
North Carolina Bathroom Law: Lawsuits Fly (AP, Reuters, me)
• The Justice Dept sued North Carolina on Monday over the state’s new bathroom law after the governor refused to back down. AG Loretta Lynch said the law requiring transgender people to use public restrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate amounts to “state-sponsored discrimination.” (this one’s going all the way to the Supreme Court)
 
• Billions of dollars in federal aid for North Carolina – and a potentially landmark decision regarding the reach of the nation’s civil rights laws – are at stake in the dispute. Last week, The DoJ said the law amounts to illegal sex discrimination and gave Gov Pat McCrory (R) until Monday to say he would refuse to enforce it (he whined about only having three days to respond)
 
• When the deadline arrived, a defiant McCrory instead sued the federal govt, arguing that the state law is a “commonsense privacy policy” and that the DoJ’s position is “baseless and blatant overreach.” (managed to respond, then) Later in the day, the GOP leaders of North Carolina’s legislature said they had sued the DoJ, too (copycats – but maybe not good in November)
 
• McCrory, up for reelection in November, accused the Obama admin of unilaterally rewriting federal civil rights law to protect transgender people’s access to bathrooms, locker rooms and showers across the country. “This is not a North Carolina issue. It is now a national issue,” he said (and very convenient for his election campaign, too)
 
• “This is about the dignity and the respect that we accord our fellow citizens,” Lynch said. “It’s about the founding ideals that have led this country, haltingly but inexorably, in the direction of fairness, inclusion and equality for all Americans.” Lynch is from North Carolina
 

• Graphic: Anti-transgender and bathroom bills around the country – what’s pending, vetoed, failed, signed into law (Reuters)

 

• The DoJ struck back by suing the state, seeking a court order declaring the law discriminatory and unenforceable. Lynch said the dept also “retains the option” of curtailing federal funding to the state over the issue (hasn’t done it yet – which is interesting)
 

• Defenders of the law have argued that it’s needed to safeguard people’s privacy and protect them from being molested in bathrooms. McCrory was unable to cite any instances of such molestation on Fox News Sunday. Lynch said supporters of the law invented a problem that doesn’t exist “as a pretext for discrimination and harassment.”
 

• Stars such as Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam have canceled shows in North Carolina over the law. PayPal abandoned a planned 400-employee operation center and Deutsche Bank froze expansion plans. Nearly 200 corporate leaders from across the country have urged the measure’s repeal, arguing it’s bad for business (well, it’s not good, anyway…)
 

• The law was passed in reaction to a Charlotte ordinance allowing transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. It also excludes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from state anti-discrimination protection and bars local govts from adopting their own anti-bias measures
 

• North Carolina AG Roy Cooper (D), who is running against McCrory for governor, has refused to defend the law and has called for its repeal. Monday, he warned in a video that McCrory “is pouring gas on the fire that he lit” when he signed the measure (he’s having a fine old time with it)

 

Ryan: Don’t “Fake” Party Unity (AP, me)
• House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) told The Journal Times in Racine, Wis, Monday that there’s no point in trying to “fake” party unity. “If we go forward pretending that we’re unified, then we are going to be at half-strength this fall,” Ryan said, defending his stunning decision to refuse to endorse GOP presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump (Ryan trying to be statesmanlike)
 
• Still, Ryan said a third-party candidacy challenge to Trump “would be a disaster for our party.” And Ryan said he’d step aside from the speaker’s traditional role as chairman of the Republican convention if Trump wants him to. “I’ll do whatever he wants in respect to the convention,” Ryan said, striking a conciliatory tone (who’s gonna chair? Ted Nugent? mind boggles)
 
• Trump didn’t seem too bothered about unity. “I think this is a time for unity. And if there’s not going to be unity, I think that’s OK, too,” Trump said on Fox Business Network. The comments from Ryan and Trump came as both men prepared for a face-to-face meeting Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) will meet with Trump separately Thursday
 
• Ryan’s negative stance appeared to be providing cover for some vulnerable Republicans. Endangered Sen Pat Toomey (R-Pa) wrote in an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer: “His vulgarity toward women, is appalling … There could come a point at which the differences are so great as to be irreconcilable.” Toomey has long said he would back the GOP nominee (back flips)
 
• Trump on Monday defended a weekend suggestion that his tax plan could be negotiable. He also announced that Gov Chris Christie (R-NJ) would head his transition team as he headed for the WH after the election. (if…) Trump tweeted that he would win “despite the people in the Republican Party that are currently and selfishly opposed to me!”

• Former GOP 2016er Sen Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) supporters aren’t going quietly. They’re mounting an effort to seize control of the GOP platform and the rules at the party’s July convention, expressing concern about “liberal changes to our platform.” They’re urging Cruz delegates to attend (keep an eye on this story) (NYT, me)

 

Sanders: It’s Not Over (Politico, AP, Hill, Hill, me)
• Speaking in Atlantic City, NJ, on Monday, on the eve of the West Virginia Democratic primary today, Bernie Sanders told supporters: “Don’t let – don’t let anybody tell you this campaign is over. We’re gonna fight for the last vote we can find in New Jersey and California.” He said he hoped to win West Virginia today, where he’s ahead of Hillary Clinton by 6 points
 
• However, Sanders is trailing Clinton by nearly 300 pledged delegates – and she has a huge lead if you count superdelegates. (which is iffy as they could change their votes) Sanders hopes he can erase the gap with pledged delegates by winning a streak of victories, starting with West Virginia today, Kentucky and Oregon on 17 May and California and New Jersey on 7 June
 
• Sanders continues to draw large crowds. But his fundraising has dropped off, with only about $525,000 in ads planned for the giant state of California and $63,000 each in West Virginia and Oregon, according to ad tracker Kantar Media’s CMAG. (this doesn’t mean that his route to the nomination is blocked; it just means it’s tough and he knows it)
 
• Meanwhile, The State Dept has no emails to or from IT specialist Brian Pagliano, who is believed to have set up and maintained Clinton’s private email server when she was SecState, it said Monday. The dept has found archived emails from Pagliano from after Clinton left office, but nothing from when she was in office. They’re searching (very very strange indeed)
 
• Republican operatives think there’s a goldmine out there: transcripts, notes or secret recordings of Clinton’s paid speeches to Goldman Sachs. They’re scouring the country for them – but so far, even though they’ve spoken to Sachs employees who were in the room, they’ve come up empty – but they’re still rummaging

 

• Donald Trump says the new mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, would be able to enter the U.S. under an “exception” to his blanket ban on Muslims. (so Trump’s ban seems not to be for elites, but for rank and file Muslims) Khan had criticized Trump’s approach and said he planned to visit the U.S. before the inauguration (NYT)
 
Garland: Questionnaire to Senate Panel – Unasked (Politico, AP, me)
• Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland plans to submit a questionnaire describing his background and work history to the Senate Judiciary Committee today, even though panel chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) hasn’t asked for one and has said the committee doesn’t plan to act on Garland’s nomination, a WH spox said
 
• The questionnaire will likely include details on Garland’s work experience, his biographical background, his memberships and associations, his most significant cases, pro bono work and financial information. Those disclosures normally fuel a round of stories about a nominee’s more controversial statements (oh about time, let’s liven this puppy up, bite someone)
 
• “We expect that upon receiving the questionnaire, Senate Judiciary Committee members will do their jobs by reviewing the info, noticing a hearing so that the American people can hear directly from Chief Judge Garland as he answers questions under oath, and giving him a fair up or down vote,” WH spox Brandy Hoffine said in a statement
 
• The submission of the statement is just the latest in a series of moves the WH and its allies have made to keep Garland’s nomination in the news. Judiciary Committee spox Beth Levine said the panel will post the unsolicited questionnaire on the committee’s website, in keeping with the usual practice – she didn’t say when
 
• Garland, the chief judge of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, has been meeting privately with senators on courtesy visits and has conducted some prep sessions with the WH. He’s slated to meet today with Sen Ron Johnson (R-Wis) and Sen Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), the WH said
 
• Donald Trump is at war with Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Moore wrote an oped for NYT saying opposition to Trump would put evangelicals “on the right side of Jesus” and describing Christ as “a dark-skinned, Aramaic-speaking ‘foreigner'” – Trump called Moore ‘a nasty guy with no heart!'” (mirror…) (al.com)

 

Facebook Accused of Bias Against Conservative News (Guardian, NYT, Gizmodo, Tech Crunch, Buzzfeed, me)
• A former self-described conservative editor at Facebook says popular conservative news sites would be deliberately kept off the “trending news” sidebar, according to a report on the tech blog Gizmodo. Facebook is now arguably the most important distributor of news online and has cultivated the idea that its newsfeed is an impartial algorithm (nothing’s impartial in this life)
 
• “I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPC or Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck or popular conservative topics wouldn’t be trending because either the curator didn’t recognize the news topic or it was like they had a bias against Ted Cruz,” the former news editor told Gizmodo (so “like they had” = the person didn’t actually know and “didn’t recognize” = the person was ignorant?)
 
• Another former curator said: “It was absolutely bias. We were doing it subjectively. … Every once in a awhile a Red State or conservative news source would have a story. But we would have to go and find the same story from a more neutral outlet that wasn’t as biased.” (sounds sensible to get a less “biased” perspective – left or right. would be biased to do the other way around)

&&&


 
• “We take these reports extremely seriously, and have found no evidence that the anonymous allegations are true,” wrote Facebook VP of search Tom Stocky late Monday. “…guidelines do not permit the suppression of political perspectives. Nor do they permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another or one news outlet over another.” He said violating guidelines was “fireable”
 
• One ex-Facebooker said that newsworthiness was determined by how often a story appeared on a list of trusted news outlets including the NYT, BBC, etc. If five of the 10 put a story on the front page, it was added to the algorithmic feed of friends’ posts; if 10 put the story on the front page, it was added to the “trending” bar. Beyond the 10 was another list of 1,000 newsers
 
• Two other former Facebook employees said any “suppression” was based on perceived credibility – any articles judged by curators to be unreliable or poorly sourced, whether left-leaning or right-leaning, were avoided, though this was a personal judgment call (beyond this is the immense power of fairly inexperienced people making massive judgment calls for 100s of millions)
 
Are They Still Reading Our Emails? (AP, me)
• Even though the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records has ended, calls and emails are still being swept up by U.S. surveillance work targeting foreigners. Eight Democrats and six Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee have asked DNI James Clapper for the number collected under Section 702 – Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
 
• The programs were first revealed to the public by Edward Snowden. (thank you) In the past five years, Sens Ron Wyden (D-Ore) and Tom Udall (D-NM) have asked repeatedly. (thank you) Last Oct, a coalition of more than 30 civil liberties groups wrote the Director of National Intel seeking the info. (‘kyou) Unsatisfied with the answer, they wrote Clapper again in Jan (and again)
 
• Intel officials have tried to assuage (fob off) concerns of Congress and others by saying that any domestic communications collected are “incidental” to the targeting of foreigners. They say Section 702 allows the govt to target only non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the U.S. (incidental doesn’t mean they don’t get you)
 
• Late March, Clapper said intel agencies are looking into several options for providing an estimate and will do their best to come up with a number. Didn’t say how soon. Even Congress acknowledges that producing an estimate could require reviewing actual emails – privacy concerns. But lawmakers say it would only be one time
 
• The Senate Judiciary Committee plans a hearing today on the issue. Section 702 is set to expire at the end of next year and would need to be reauthorized. The Brennan Center for Justice says the NSA acquired “more than 250 million internet communications each year under this program.” “Virtually certain to include tens of millions” of exchanges that involve Americans…
 
Maverick Wins Philippines Presidency: In Quotes (BBC, AFP, me)
• Rodrigo Duterte, aka “Duterte Harry,” is on track to be the next president of the Philippines, a former mayor who’s accused of running vigilante death squads that have allegedly killed more than 1,000 people – he’s boasted about running the squads, but has also denied any links to them (sounds like Trump with fangs – harsh and filthy mouthed – and that’s what voters like)
 
• “I was separated from my wife. I’m not impotent,” Duterte, 71, said to an audience of businesspeople in April. “What am I supposed to do? Let this hang forever? When I take Viagra, it stands up.” He’s bragged about being a womanizer with two wives and two mistresses / He’s also said that Donald Trump is “a bigot” and “I am not”
 
• A prison riot in ’89: “they raped all of the women…There was this Australian lay minister…when they took them out..I saw her face and I thought, ‘Son of a bitch. what a pity, they raped her, they all lined up. I was mad she was raped but she was so beautiful. I thought, the mayor should have been first.” The inmates killed the Australian missionary after raping her
 
• The Australian and U.S. ambassadors strongly criticized his remarks. “It would do well with the American ambassador and the Australian ambassador to shut their mouths, Duterte said in response. “If I become president, go ahead and sever [diplomatic ties],” Duterte said on the campaign trail in late April (state dinners at the Trump WH upcoming, anyone?)
 

• About the Pope in Nov: “We were affected by the traffic. It took us five hours. I asked why, they said it was closed. I asked who is coming. They answered, the pope. I wanted to call him, ‘Pope, son of a whore, go home, Do not visit us again.'” Duterte said he’d write to ask for forgiveness. The Vatican wrote back, saying the Pope “appreciated the sentiments” in the letter (i’ll bet)

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Victoria Jones – Editor

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