March 20, 2017: Spank North Korea | Judge’s Pants on Fire | Meals on Spinning Wheels

North Korea Red for the Blue

1. Gorsuch Defenders Rising

As we’ve noted here before, there has been a massive effort by conservatives to mobilize grassroots support for the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, particularly in states with Democratic senators who might vote against his confirmation. Early signs this morning on Twitter are that the base is all in. Here is just a sampling from Trump supporters. Many of these people don’t have particularly large followings, but they do show how fired up the base is:

Rad123‏ @Tombx7M

Time for real justice #Gorsuch

Proud American‏ @Hebron4824

#Gorsuch Perfect man for the job. One more piece to saving our republic from idiots. Hoping we get another Justice soon

Daniele Pezon‏ @Fladaniele1

#Gorsuch The Dems are still dreaming about Garland,how about the fact that they thought Clinton was going to win and then appoint Garland.

Patrick Henry‏ @FightNowAmerica

With #Gorsuch we can finally shut down the amoral Left's sick agenda.

American Honey 🐝‏ @lgmaterna:

 #Gorsuch will shape America’s future for generations to come. He will uphold conservative, constitutional values. #ProLife; #2A-Biggest Win!

Mari Proud Trump Won‏ @MarianneHaran:

Trump Supreme Court
@thedemocrats don't want #Gorsuch on the #Supreme #Court#Gorsuch will enforce the LAW!
Law scares @thedemocrats

What We’re Watching: 
Meanwhile, we know the conspiracy-minded part of the Red Media will be all over James Comey, the Director of the F.B.I., this week as he testified to Congress. We will bring you highlights of that as well.

2. Spanking North Korea

If there is anything the conservative media likes, it is a hard line on military issues. On Friday, President Trump gave them a new line in the sand to defend when he tweeted that North Korea was “behaving very badly.” Then, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in Asia this weekend, talked tough about the rogue state. He called North Korea an “imminent” threat and said he would not rule out a preemptive military strike against the country. The era of “strategic patience” was over, he said.

While the Blue Twittersphere emphasized the recklessness of these statements in a nuclear age, the Red Twittersphere became a cheering squad, painting North Korea as an unruly child that had been allowed to spin out of control by Democrats and just needed some discipline. The cognitive linguist George Lakoff has long theorized that benign patriarchal sternness is a theme in much conservative communication and, clearly, it resonates here.

STOCK MONSTER‏ @StockMonsterUSA with 77k thousand followers, wrote:

Tillerson and President Donald Trump say North Korea's days of Insanity and Wicked Ways are OVER!!

George P. Szabo @georgeszabo777,  author and public speaker with 12k followers, said:

#NorthKorea named most corrupt country in the world — tied with Somalia. On verge of being nuclear power as Obama slept. #Tillerson is awake

Boston 🇺🇸Bobblehead‏ @DBloom451, with 30k followers, quipped:

T-Rex ain't playin' no more...
Rex Tillerson sez U.S. “strategic patience” with North Korea is over. 

Red Nation Rising @RedNationRising, with 100k followers, wrote:

Dems are responsible for kindling North Korea and Iran nuclear programs. Now Trump is responsible for putting out the Fire.

We Are Also Noting: 
And speaking of spanking, do you remember the allegations by the Clinton camp and some media outlets that Trump’s people softened the Republican platform’s position on Russia vis a vis its aggression in Ukraine? The Washington Examiner had an interesting, reported piece dissecting these accusations. There was no softening, said The Examiner. The platform, in fact, got tougher. 

3) Judge Napolitano: Pants on Fire

So, as we all know by now, Trump and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, managed to offend America’s closest ally, Great Britain, last week by insisting that Obama had used the top British intelligence agency to wiretap Trump Tower. The source for this claim, the president admitted unapologetically, was Fox’s News’s senior legal analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano. Napolitano stood by his remarks, saying he had three sources, one of which was a former Fox contributor, Larry Johnson, an ex-intelligence officer, who is also standing by the allegations.

Still, the claim was hotly denied by the U.K. And the uproar that followed was so great that Fox was forced to deny that it had evidence of the wiretapping.

We realize we are coming in a bit late on this particular blow-up -- such are the hazards of publishing only bi-weekly -- but we did think it was worth noting that Fox (and Trump for that matter) had every reason not to trust Napolitano in the first place.

Politifact, the Pulitzer-Prize winner and truth-scorekeeper, has a pundit scorecard on Napolitano. It says: None of the eight statements of his that it has fact-checked have been true or even mostly true. That is none, meaning zero, zilch, nada.

On a more positive note, two have been half true and three merely mostly false. But three reached Politifact’s highest level of untruth: Pants on Fire! One example, in 2014: "President Lincoln “tried to arm the slaves.”

What We’re Watching: 
And talking about pundits under the gun: The platinum-blonde provocateur Tomi Lahren got herself in hot water with the Right after she went on ABC’s The View and said she thought the government had no right to police women’s bodies -- even in the case of abortion. Naturally, she was hammered by conservatives. But did she go too far? The Daily Caller reported on Saturday that Lahren was being forced out of a competitor, The Blaze. As one Twitter commentator commentator quipped, “Wait, Tomi Lahren said she was pro choice and conservatives are turning against her?? I love this episode of ‘Gossip girl’.”

4. Meals on Wheels Pushback: Granny Will be Fine

National Review and Reason magazine -- both from the fact-based wing of the Red Media -- pushed back against widespread media coverage of budget cuts that alleged that Trump’s proposal to defund Community Development Block Grants would result in devastating cuts to Meals on Wheels, which brings meals to the homebound elderly.

As both articles pointed out, Meals on Wheels only gets a small fraction of its money from the block grants. About a third comes from the Older Americans Act, which has not yet been targeted by Trump or House Speaker Paul Ryan. Much of the rest comes from private donations and other sources.

As a former New York Times reporter who has written budget stories on deadline, I’ll allow that it is challenging to get the numbers right. But National Review had this warning about bias:

“For many editors, “Administration wants to zero out Meals on Wheels” made good, emotionally satisfying copy — too good to check. But around the country, in coming days, thousands of persons touched by the program are likely to ask their visiting community member or supervisor whether it’s really true that they’re going to do away with the Meals on Wheels program, the way the man on TV or the lady on Facebook said. And after they hear a fuller explanation, they might decide that they trust news reports a little less.”

5. Poll Watch: Mixed Bag

Two new national polls were out on Sunday and they were a mixed bag for the president

According to Gallup,Trump's approval rating has sunk to 37 percent-- a record low. For context, at this point in his presidency, Obama’s approval rating was 63 percent.

A CBS poll painted a more positive picture for the president. It showed he retained solid support among poll responders who self-identified as Trump believers. He maintained this strong support even though many of his backers have not yet made up their minds on Repeal and Replace. However, the poll did show that 67 percent of his strongest supporters believe his claims that he was wiretapped and 80 percent believe he is an accurate source of information.

What We’re Watching: 
Meanwhile, the AP cites a GenForward poll which shows that 57% of young adults 18-30 see Trump’s presidency as illegitimate and only 22% approve of the job he’s doing. Moreover, just a quarter of young Americans have a favorable view of the Republican party on the whole. The Democratic party, however, performs better. Young people are more likely to have a favorable than an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party by a 47 percent to 36 percent margin. But it is also worth mentioning that just 14 percent say they have a strongly favorable view of the Democrats.