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

  • Senate GOPers to Obama: Fire Ben Rhodes
  • Trump’s attack plan for Clinton
  • Clinton’s allies plan to go after Trump
  • Democrats compete today
  • White House what’s ups – 2016
  • SCOTUS dodges on Obamacare contraception
  • SCOTUS nominee: Democrats’ mock hearing
  • US backs arming Libyan govt to fight ISIS
Senate GOPers to Obama: Fire Ben Rhodes (Politico, WaPo, Hill, me)
• Monday, Republican Sens Mark Kirk (Ill), John Cornyn (Texas) and John Barrasso (Wyo) urged President Obama to fire deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, saying he had been “disrespectful,” “deceptive” and “dishonest” (the 3 dire “ds”) in how he had sold the Iran nuclear deal to the public (a deal they hated)
• It all grew out of a NYT Magazine profile this month that quoted Rhodes saying that the WH “created an echo chamber” to advocate for the deal, by enlisting like-minded policy groups and journos to say “things that validated what we had given them to say.” He also called journos callow and the DC policy establishment infested with groupthink (well, you know…)
• Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) House Oversight Committee chair went ballistic, as it cemented his pre-existing condition that the Iran deal was fixed, and he invited Rhodes last week to testify at a hearing today – which would be a doozy. WH spox Josh Earnest wouldn’t say for days whether Rhodes would testify. WH counsel Neil Eggleston finally said “Nope” on Monday
• Eggleston cited “significant constitutional concerns rooted in the separation of powers” but didn’t cite “executive privilege.” Chaffetz’s head exploded and he said Monday on Twitter that it amounted to executive privilege. He snarked: “…Talks to reporters and his ‘echo chamber’ but not Congress. Disappointing but typical,” Chaffetz also tweeted (while gnashing his teeth)
• Earnest has insisted that it’s Republicans who have peddled false narratives about the nuclear deal. He has suggested some Republican senators  who could testify for their descriptions. In apparent response, Chaffetz has included virulent deal foe Sen Tom Cotton (R-Ark), who spearheaded a letter to Iran’s leaders last year warning them about the Iran deal
• President Obama defended his transgender directive for school bathrooms in an interview on Monday: “We’re talking about kids, and anybody who’s been in school, been in high school, who’s been a parent, I think should realize that kids who are sometimes in the minority – kids who have a different sexual orientation or are transgender – are subject to a lot of bullying, potentially they are vulnerable.” (Buzzfeed)

Trump’s Attack Plan For Clinton (NYT, me)

• Donald Trump plans to throw Bill Clinton’s infidelities in Hillary Clinton’s face on live TV during the presidential debates this fall, questioning whether she enabled his behavior and sought to discredit the women involved (watch it from the shower, it’ll feel dirty – and talking of trying to discredit women…)

• Trump will try to hold her accountable for security lapses at the American consulate in Benghazi and for the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens there. (legit attack line) And he intends to portray Clinton as fundamentally corrupt, invoking everything from her cattle futures trades in the late 1970s to the federal investigation into her email practices as SecState (cattle futures?)

• Drawing on psychological warfare tactics that Trump used to defeat “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz and “Little Marco” Rubio et al in the GOP primaries, the Trump campaign is mapping out character attacks on the Clintons to try to increase their negative poll ratings and bait them into making political mistakes, according to interviews with Trump and his advisers (Bill might bite and overreact)

• Another goal is to win over skeptical Republicans, since nothing unites the party quite like trashing the Clintons. Attacking them could also deflect attention from Trump’s vulnerabilities, such as his treatment of women, some Trump allies say (he’s Teflon Don at the moment – it will take someone daring to come out of the woodwork – and who does?)


• Trump’s been married three times and is a known philanderer – does Clinton have the guts to take him on in that arena? Trump has many failed businesses and bankruptcies. Trump has a Trump University lawsuit for it being a scam hanging over him. Will she go there? Clinton’s campaign claims to have dirt on Trump that’s never been seen. Will they use it?
“Just Getting Nasty…Won’t Work” – Trump

• Clinton has often flourished in the wake of boorish behavior: her husband’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, Kenneth Starr’s investigation of her husband, impeachment proceedings. Women helped her win the 2008 New Hampshire primary shortly after Barack Obama dismissively said she was “likable enough.” Trump said he was determined not to fall into those traps

• “Just getting nasty with Hillary won’t work,” Trump said in a phone interview. “You really have to get people to look hard at her character, and to get women to ask themselves if Hillary is truly sincere and authentic. Because she has been really ugly in trying to destroy Bill’s mistresses, and she is pandering to women so obviously when she is only interested in getting power.”

• He acknowledged that Republicans tried to discredit her in the marathon Benghazi hearing this fall, to little avail. But he said that he would be more pointed and memorable in linking her to the failings and deaths in Libya, and that the debate would have a vastly larger TV audience than the hearing (he plans to gut her alive – banking that he can get away with it)

• Several Clinton advisers said they weren’t underestimating Trump’s ability to do some damage. But they expressed confidence that Trump would overreach and engender sympathy for Clinton. Two advisers said the campaign had done polling to test possible effectiveness of Trump’s lines of attacks and that they were convinced that he wouldn’t seriously hurt her (a poll’s not a person)

Clinton’s Allies Plan to Go After Trump (Politico, me)
• Yes, it’s dueling attacks! The coming ad assault against Donald Trump from pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC Priorities USA Action is likely to drill a three-pronged message deep into the minds of swing state voters: the three central tenets will be that the mogul is a divisive character, that he’s too dangerous to vote for and that he’s a con man, chief strategist Guy Cecil said Monday
• The organization starts its run of TV advertising on Wednesday and it’s set to effectively stay on the air straight through Election Day in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia. (not Pennsylvania, interesting) The effort is kicking off this week by educating swing-state voters about Trump
• “The fact of the matter is knowledge about Donald Trump is a mile wide and an inch deep. In fact, most Americans who have been busy living their lives, who have not been watching cable coverage, [know] very little about Donald Trump,” said Cecil

• Watch Hillary Clinton do her (pretty awful) impression of a boasting Donald Trump in a hypothetical general election debate (CNN) – errr, apparently, that’s not quite what he has in mind for the debate, Hill… Gonna be too busy accusing you of murdering Vince Foster, I should think –  – that was you sucking the soul out of his lungs, right?


• The first theme – that he’s too divisive – focuses on Trump’s harsh rhetoric reserved for distinct segments of the electorate: “women, Hispanics, Muslims, African-Americans,” almost all groups, said Cecil. (and presumably geared towards those very groups) The second – that he’s too dangerous – takes a national security tack
• “I frankly don’t think ‘risky’ captures it, because ‘risk’ implies potential upside,” explained Cecil, mentioning clips that show Trump suggesting more countries should have nuclear weapons and insisting he knows more than generals, also alluding to Trump’s recent barbs towards leaders in the UK (did you know we’re at war with Blighty now?)
• And the final prong, “that he has been basically pulling a con job on people,” will dive into his economic positions – like on trade, where he sounds a populist tone but has spoken of employing people in Bangladesh – and his own business record, including how he refused to release his tax returns (if they don’t run “none of your business” quote, they’re negligent – a gift)
• The group expects to run multiple tracts of attack at once. So while the PAC will run TV ads around the three central prongs, Cecil explained, it will also be using its digital channels as part of its overall attempt to appeal to Millennials, Hispanics and other key constituencies

Democrats Compete Today (NYT, me)
• Hillary Clinton fought Monday to fend off Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) on the eve of Kentucky’s Democratic primary, hoping to avoid another loss. She campaigned in Paducah. “I’m excited about the primary tomorrow, but we got to turn a lot of people out,” Clinton said (sounding like Bernie there)

• Sanders campaigned in central and western Kentucky over the weekend, urging voters to the polls. “What seems impossible today is not impossible if people come together, stand up and demand that change,” he said in Bowling Green. He campaigned in Puerto Rico on Monday

• Oregon, which votes by mail, requires ballots to be received by tonight, and the state’s demographics favor Sanders. Kentucky is more competitive, and it poses another test of how much Clinton can appeal to white working-class voters, who have been receptive to Sanders’s populist message (and Trump’s) (and she’s appeared to trash the future of coal workers – it’s hurt her)

• “I want to help bring back the kind of economy that worked for everybody in the 1990s,” Clinton said on Monday, adding that she had told Bill Clinton that if she became president, she expected him to work to bolster the economy. Asked if she’d give Bill a Cabinet role, Clinton shook her head no (she’s opening up an easy attack line for Trump – woman too weak to govern alooone…)

• Losses in Kentucky and Oregon wouldn’t be fatal to her shot at the Democratic nomination, but Clinton is in the awkward position of running two campaigns at once: urging voters to turn out in the primary while also laying out arguments geared towards a face-off with Donald Trump in November (and Bernie’s not going anywhere)


White House What’s Ups (AP, Buzzfeed, AP, Guardian, me)
• Marcos Stupenengo, a freelance journo who is originally from Argentina, entered Trump Tower for an interview with Trump Monday, took a call and started speaking Spanish. Then the Trump campaign informed him they had no interest in taking part in an interview with him, according to a source with knowledge (sorry – that’s not really a news story – isn’t it just par for the course?)
• Former 2016er Gov John Kasich (R-Ohio) told CNN Monday his party will have a hard time winning the WH if candidates are “bashing Hispanics, turning off African-Americans” and failing to excite young voters. Oh, and he’s not interested in the Donald Trump VP slot. Just as well, Trump’s not interested in him, either
• Trump declared war on America’s closest ally, Great Britain, Monday, in a two-pronged equal opportunity assault. He attacked Conservative PM David Cameron, an obvious ally – Cameron had called Trump’s Muslim ban “divisive, stupid and wrong,” and savaged London’s Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan, who’s called Trump “ignorant” on Islam. Now, Donald’s carpet bombing
• Nevada’s Democratic Party on Monday warned the Democratic National Committee that Sen Bernie Sanders’ supporters have a penchant for violence and may seek to disrupt the national convention in July, as they did during the Nevada convention Saturday – progressives deny that disruption by Sanders supporters actually took place – no chairs were thrown, they say
Oops – but oh come onnnn. The CIA IG’s office – the internal watchdog – admits it “mistakenly” destroyed its only copy of the huge Senate torture report at the same time lawyers for the Justice Dept were assuring a federal judge that copies of the doc were being preserved. Strange, but true. It’s not the only copy existing – not that we’re likely to see it (lengthy Yahoo News piece)


SCOTUS Dodges on Obamacare Contraception Case (Buzzfeed, NYT, me)
• The Supreme Court on Monday punted on the questions of whether and how religiously affiliated nonprofits must object to providing insurance coverage for contraception under Obamacare, sending 13 cases back to lower courts for them to explore whether a compromise is possible (only eight justices – likely couldn’t get a decent sized majority)
• In an unsigned opinion, the court announced that its decision “expresses no view on the merits of the cases,” which were claims made under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by religiously affiliated groups ranging from the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged to several colleges and universities
• At issue is the form religiously affiliated nonprofits must fill out if they object to providing insurance coverage for contraception under Obamacare – the “accommodation” to the contraception mandate – and the protections provided by RFRA to the nonprofit groups’ religious interests. Churches are automatically exempted – they don’t need to fill out the form

• Less than a week after the case was argued in March, the court issued an unusual unsigned order asking the parties to submit supplemental briefs on a possible compromise. In Monday’s ruling, the court said those briefs suggested that a compromise was possible, but that it should be forged in the lower courts


• Obama’s SCOTUS Nominee: Democrats’ Mock Hearing (Politico, Buzzfeed, me)
• Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland won’t be appearing before Republican senators anytime soon for his confirmation hearing. So Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a forum Wednesday morning featuring five top legal and govt officials who know the veteran jurist personally and who will testify to his legal acumen and personal character (drip drip)
• Garland has been hammered by millions of dollars worth of ads from a conservative group portraying the moderate as a gun-rights opponent and a fan of govt regulations. So the forum will give him a public defense – er, silent defense, that is. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) called the proposed forum a “desperate act.”
• Democrats are especially frustrated that Garland, who’s had to stay mostly quiet as he’s been making one-on-one rounds with senators and dutifully filling out his nominee questionnaire, isn’t getting the chance to publicly speak on his own behalf. As of today, Garland’s nomination will have been lingering for 62 days. Garland won’t be a featured speaker at the forum
• Top Republicans have said they wouldn’t consider any President Obama nominee and maintain that they won’t hold hearings or a vote for Garland – not necessarily because of his positions, which many of them have praised – but because, they say, the next president should decide who is nominated (this president only serves for seven years – he’s special that way)
• The issue, Obama said to Buzzfeed, is that some members of the GOP “are on record saying this is a very well qualified candidate.” “Originally they said they wouldn’t even meet the guy. But they heard from their constituents that this isn’t kindergarten; just because you’re not happy with what’s happening, you don’t not do your job.” (then again…)


• Frustrated travelers are complaining to the TSA in record numbers as long lines and delays getting through airport security result in missed flights. Complaints filed on such topics as courtesy and processing time surged in March to the highest levels in the past year (Bloomberg)
US Backs Arming Libyan Govt to Fight ISIS (BBC, me)
• The U.S. and other world powers said they’re ready to arm Libya’s UN-backed unity govt to help it fight ISIS. Speaking in Vienna on Monday, SecState John Kerry said world powers would back Libya in seeking an exemption from a UN arms embargo. He said ISIS was a “new threat” to Libya and it was “imperative” it was stopped (zero confidence in this new govt to hang on to the arms)
• Last month, the Libyan govt warned that ISIS could seize most of the country if it wasn’t halted soon. After holding talks with international partners, Kerry said, “The GNA [Govt of National Accord] is the only entity that can unify the country. It is the only way to ensure that vital institutions … fall under representative and acknowledged authority.”
• Kerry said that as well as countering ISIS, the GNA should take full control of Libyan ministries, backed by the international community. A joint statement from countries attending the Vienna meeting noted “the threat posed throughout the Mediterranean and on its land borders by criminal organizations engaged in all forms of smuggling and trafficking, including in human beings”
• But the PM of Libya’s unity govt, Fayez Sarraj, warned major challenges lay ahead. “We urge the international community to assist us,” he said. “We are not talking about international intervention, we are talking about international assistance in training, equipping our troops and training our youths.” (is there any loyalty to this govt? doubt it)
• The North-African country has been in chaos since NATO-backed forces overthrew ruled Muammar Qaddafi in Oct 2011. (nooo planning for Day 2 – Obama admits the Libya aftermath is his biggest mistake – no excuse; he had Iraq to learn from) Until recently it had two rival govts competing for power, and there are still hundreds of militias, some allied to ISIS


• Thomas Manning, 64, whose penis was removed because of cancer, has received the first penis transplant in the U.S., at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The surgery is experimental. The surgery is experimental. Manning said he wanted to speak out publicly. “Don’t hide behind a rock,” he said to other people with genital injuries (NYT)

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Victoria Jones – Editor