June 29, 2017: Healthcare Blues | Bias Wars: CNN, TMZ | Palin Laments

Good Thursday to you. Here's your bi-weekly snapshot of trending news and fake stories circulating in the conservative world. We will be taking the July 4th weekend off! (It is a national holiday after all.) Please follow us on Twitter or Facebook, where we'll continue to share breaking news. And please know that we're always interested in your thoughts and feedback, so feel free to send us an email at contact@redfortheblue.

1. GOP Healthcare Blues

Facing a stalemate on Tuesday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed a vote on the Senate health-care bill until after the July 4 recess. While Mitch McConnell is known to be a master tactician, the Right media were skeptical that he could work his magic.

Yesterday, Michael Tanner of National Review wrote:

Once upon a time in the far-off land of Washington, Republicans swore a mighty oath that, if they ever had the power, they would repeal Obamacare. Sometimes they added the word “replace,” but mostly, every Republican running for anything from president to the Tupelo school board vowed to rip the health-care law out by the roots, drive a stake through its heart, and shred it...

Somehow, Republicans looked at a health-care law that was rapidly spiraling into oblivion and decided that what they really needed to do was to preserve and expand it. At this point, the bill seems unlikely to pass. Either way, this is one fairy tale that probably won’t end happily ever after.

Chris Stirewalt wrote in his Fox newsletter, Halftime Report:

As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to try to impress upon the president and the rest of his party, the window for a Republican-only answer for dealing with what could be a calamity for many millions of voters, including those in electoral battle grounds, is closing fast. The idea of slapping together a long-term, large-scale set of sweeping conservative reforms is pretty much out the window, and has been for a couple of months.

And RedState was even harsher:

For now, the vote on the bill has been pushed back until after the July 4 holiday recess. Pushed back, because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell knows he doesn’t have the votes necessary to pass. In the meantime, because of weak-kneed, faint-hearted Republican leadership, we’re stuck with the atrocity known as Obamacare.

Jazz Shaw, from Hot Air, was perhaps the most pessimistic of all. He wrote:

Making a fiscally conservative argument which takes away or limits “goodies” which the public has come to expect is, I fear, a losing proposition. The road to single payer is in front of us and it will take someone far smarter than me to find an exit ramp at this point.

What We’re Watching:

Last night, Trump promised a “big surprise on health care” during a photo opportunity with reporters as he welcomed the World Series-winning Chicago Cubs.  Meanwhile, Rand Paul, who has been vocal in his opposition to the current plan, told Fox News about a “breakthrough” that he brainstormed with POTUS. “He and I came up with an idea… to separate this into two bills.” According to Rand, the first would be a repeal bill that he “thinks everyone one would vote for.” It would repeal certain taxes, a certain amount of regulations, and also include some Medicaid reform. Then the second separate bill would be for all moderates who want more spending programs. According to Paul, “If you separate them, you can get to a passage.” Make sense? Well, Paul claims that senators have discussed this strategy privately for about a year, among themselves and Mitch McConnell.

Also Worth Noting:

There may be pessimism on the Right, but that hasn’t stopped it from criticizing the Left on health care. Reflecting much of the right-wing commentary we’ve seen on social media National Review writes: “Before Trump’s election, Democrats’ rhetoric on health care was moderate. Now they’ve gone ballistic.”

2. CNN Bias and the Pro-Trump TMZ

First, CNN retracted a story linking a Trump adviser to a Russian investment fund. Then three journalists involved with the story resigned. Enter President Trump, who slammed the news network on Twitter. Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders criticized the CNN debacle in the White House’s first televised briefing in a week.

Sanders even went on to reference a carefully edited undercover video by the conservative Project Veritas, which purports to show a CNN producer expressing doubt about the Russian-Trump campaign collusion story and suggesting that the network’s coverage is primarily meant to boost ratings.

Sean Hannity had a field day:

So they caught fake news CNN cold, but what about NBC, CBS, ABC? What about the failing New York Times and Washington Post? They're all fake news.

He continued, referring to the collusion story discussed in the Project Veritas video:

"If it was something really good, it would leak. So I think the president is probably right to say, like, ‘Look, you are witch hunting. Like, you have no smoking gun. You have no real proof…”

He then put the president of CNN in the crosshairs:

Jeff Zucker is a left-wing ideologue and a Trump-hating political operative who must be held accountable. If the company won’t do it, viewers will.

But not all were on the same page as Hannity. While RedState was critical of CNN, it was equally critical of Sanders’ press briefing -- and all recent White House press briefings:

As conservatives, transparency in government is something we’ve sought for years. Yet, here we are with a Republican White House going out of its way to shut down transparency… and conservatives are perfectly fine with that.

That’s a big problem, because if we’re going to give up any pretense of even a basic transparency, what happens when there is something major – a scandal, etc. – that the White House won’t divulge, in this administration or the next? Do we have any right to ask for more information if we haven’t even demanded they give us basic information in press briefings?

We lose the right to be informed by our government. That is a dangerous precedent, and it is something conservatives should stop cheerleading.

And Hannity continued to get flack all week from his party.

Seth Mandel @SethMandel, editor of Commentary, tweeted about his rant:

Hannity's treating CNN like the alpha. It's how Olbermann used to sweat O'Reilly. Fascinating.

Anne Coulter also criticized Hannity's unabashed devotion to POTUS:

"Sean Hannity... would endorse communism if Trump decided to implement the policies of "The Communist Manifesto.”

What We’re Watching:

Who else has a ball in POTUS’s court? How about two of the leading gossip media players? The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin reports on The National Enquirer’s “sycophantic fervor” for Trump. And Think Progress writes of TMZ’s emergence as “arguably, the most important pro-Trump outlet in America.”

For example, it says about TMZ:

The site, best known for celebrity gossip and interviews, landed an “exclusive” from former Miss Teen USA Katie Blair. In an edited two-and-a-half minute video shot from the front seat of a car, Blair says that she “never had a bad experience” with Trump and “has a great deal of respect for him.” Blair went on to describe, in the words of TMZ, “why Trump couldn’t have done many of the things some other pageant contestants have accused him of doing.” She concluded the video by saying she would vote for Trump.”

TMZ reaches a different demographic than Fox News, whose audience skews older and is already likely to support Trump, and Breitbart, whose connection to white nationalism limits its appeal, Think Progress argues, “TMZ attracts a large and diverse audience — precisely the folks Trump needed to reach to stitch together a winning coalition.”

3. Palin Laments: Modern Feminism Isn’t Inclusive

Speaking of accusations of fake news, Sarah Palin filed a lawsuit against The New York Times on Tuesday over its editorial that tied her to the January 2011 shooting of an Arizona congresswoman. And this week, the former vice presidential candidate was also vocal in her disgust over a Cosmopolitanarticle that listed its seven picks for women who could be the next female president. (None of the picks were Republicans.) The Cosmo article got some negative coverage on her blog and was picked up by many on the Right. Wrote Town Hall:

This article is the epitome of modern feminism. The movement that claims to champion all women, and inclusion, constantly devalues conservative women based on their right-leaning beliefs. The current movement seems to be stemmed in hating men, begging for government handouts, promoting abortion and shaming conservative women, not empowering females or bringing women with diverse opinions together in support of equality.

What We’re Watching:

On the topic of “inclusion,” Kimberly Ross of Red State reported back from the Second Annual Pro-Life Women’s Conference in Orlando, Fla, and had this key takeaway: “We need more diversity within our cause. The issue of life demands it.” Another key point? Black Lives Matter. She writes:

“I was struck when panelist Catherine Davis, of the Restoration Project, brought up the Black Lives Matter movement in the same breath as the pro-life movement. Speaking to a mostly white crowd, she encouraged us to ‘see race’ and acknowledge that abortion is a problem within all communities, including – and often, especially – the black community. She went on to say that being pro-life means promoting the worth of all individuals – the unborn, babies, children, teenagers, and adults.”

4. Poll Watch: Newspapers Up

A new Gallup poll finds that Americans’ confidence in major institutions is actually edging up after registering historical lows over the past three years.

It turns out that the failure of politicians has made others look good. “Newspapers, public schools and organized labor, in particular, have improved in public esteem,” Gallup found. The average percentage of Americans expressing ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in 14 institutions is at 35 percent, up from 31 percent in 2014 and 32 percent in 2015 and 2016.”

Also, Gallup checked the president’s approval ratings on 10 hot button issues. He got the highest approval ratings for his handling of terrorism (46 percent) and the economy (45 percent) and the lowest ratings are for health care policy (28 percent) and relations with (Russia 30 percent.) Trump's frosty relations with the news media met with approval from 34 percent of U.S. adults.

5. Trump I. Claudius

The Hoover Institution at Stanford University is solidly conservative, but that did not stop one of its more famous scholars, Victor Davis Hanson, from posting an article on the institution’s website comparing Trump to the Roman emperor Claudius. Claudius, who limped, was deaf and probably stuttered, was disdained by the aristocracy (including his mother) and was never supposed to have been emperor. He was given the job at the relatively old age of 50 by the Roman Guard, which wanted change from the corrupt Caligula.

Hanson writes:

"The early few months of the Trump presidency are, in many ways, Claudian. Trump is likewise an outsider who, in the view of the Washington aristocracy, should never have been president.”

After giving more parallels between the two leaders, Hanson writes about how Trump and the Roman were both similarly misinterpreted and underestimated.

Talking heads cringe after watching network interviews of Trump (who unlike former President Obama will talk off-the-cuff to almost anyone at any time anywhere about anything). Smug authors pen long exposes of Trump’s buffoonery in Washington and New York magazines. Yet we should no more believe that their satires of Trump, the man, are an accurate window into the Trump agenda or record than was Seneca’s Apocolyncotosis a reliable account of the reign of Claudius.

From what we can tell, the more Rome prospered under Claudius, the more the imperial court grew to despise him—as if his odd mannerisms and the even odder way he came to power could not be squared with the able administration of a far-flung empire over the 13 years of his reign.

In the end, Claudius was likely murdered by dynastic rivals and relatives who thought that a young, glib, handsome, intellectual, and artistic Nero would be a pleasant relief from the awkwardness, bluntness, and weirdness of Claudius. What followed was the triumph of artists, intellectuals, stylish aristocrats, obsequious dynastic insiders, and flatterers—many of them eventually to be consumed by the reign of terror they so eagerly helped to usher in.