March 16, 2017: Rough Day on the Right | Early Budget Reactions | Who Is Paul Joseph Watson? | The Return of #Iamaclimatechangedenier
1. The President’s No Good, Terrible, Really Bad Day
Like so many news cycles in the Trump era, yesterday’s moved at lightning speed. There was a lot of news for the president, almost none of it good. Some of it, like the Dutch election going to conservatives not populists and the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee saying that Obama never wiretapped him, we’ll get to later .
For now, we wanted to touch on two stories that broke late in the day. First, a Fox News poll said that only 34 percent of Americans support the proposed G.O.P. health care plan. That very low positive is driven by the 9 out of 10 Democrats who reject the plan. While a majority of Republicans say they support Trumpcare, a very sizeable minority opposes it or needs more information.
Then, just hours before restrictions from Trump’s rewritten travel ban was set to go into effect, a Federal judge based in Honolulu ruled that the state of Hawaii had reasonable grounds to challenge the order as religious discrimination. Speaking to a rally of loyalists in Nashville, the president said the court's ruling made the country “look weak.”
The only good news for Trump is that while his supporters may be split on health care, they strongly back his tough stance on immigration and rallied to his side last night.
Mark Romano @TheMarkRomano, with 66k followers, had 1k likes for this tweet within two hours of posting:
OUTRAGE! A Left-wing judge in Hawaii blocked President Trump's new travel ban. Appeal all the way up! This order is 100% constitutional.
Amy Mek @Amy Mek got 1K likes and 730 retweets for this:
Hawaii resettled a total of 123 refugees in 14yrs only 5 were MUSLIMS from the M.E. Time 2 send Hawaii their FAIR SHARE of Muslim"Refugees"
Meanwhile, this morning #Boycott Hawaii was rising on the Twitter trend list. The idea is to punish the entire state because of one judge's ruling.
You Know It’s Bad When:
The best news of Trump’s day were the ripples from the decision of the MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow to release two pages from his 2005 tax returns on Tuesday night. Maddow was pounded by right and left for hyping the scoop even though it revealed relatively little. Many even argued that it may have helped distract attention from the furor over health care. In fact, we noticed that so many people used the term “nothingburger” to describe Maddow’s findings that we thought it appropriate to link to this Wall Street Journal article (open to subscribers only) that explores the origin of the phrase in a 1950s Hollywood gossip column.
What We’re Watching:
Trump released his first budget proposal this morning. Budget expert Stan Collender quipped, "This is not a budget; It’s a Trump campaign press release masquerading as a government document."
We will be tweeting out Red Media reaction as it unfolds, but, like Collender, we suspect that the budget will be very popular with his base. It boosts military and veterans spending while slashing the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department by about 30 percent each.
A flavor of expected reaction comes from The Washington Examiner, which reported on a statement on CNN this morning from the infamous climate denier Senator Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.., He said the new budget “will keep the country's environmental cop from ’brainwashing’ the country's children.”
The former-congressman-turned-radio-host Joe Walsh @WalshFreedom, with 95k followers, wrote:
Trump's budget includes a 31% cut to the EPA's budget. That right there is a damn good thing.
2. Dutch Election: The Netherlands (and the World) Has Not Seen the Last of Geert
All eyes in the conservative media were on the Dutch election. Hopes had been running high that the anti-Muslim Geert Wilders would bring the nationalist, anti-immigrant victory trend to mainland Europe. Wednesday evening, both the Drudge Report and Breitbart led with the story, but added their own conservative twists.
By last night, it was clear that while Wilders party would gain seats in Parliament, it drew far less support than many anticipated and far from enough to unseat the center-right party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte. This was clearly a disappointment for the Far Right but its denizens gamely tried to find the right spin.
Wilders himself tweeted out:
“We won seats! The first victory is in! And Rutte has not seen the last of me yet!!"
Meanwhile Breitbart focused on big losses for the left-leaning Labour party with this headline: “LIVE WIRE Dutch Elections: Polls Closed, Labour Party Collapse in Exit Polls”
And Drudge went with Wilders’ rising influence “DUTCH DECIDE 'NOT SEEN LAST OF ME!'"
What We’re Watching:
And speaking of global populism, not only is the Red Media not giving up, they are doubling down. On Wednesday, Fox news announced a new Sunday show called “The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton.” The Los Angeles-based show will focus on “the populist movement in America and abroad.
3. Uh, About Those Wiretap Denials. They’re Good News Too!
So Wednesday morning, Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee and Adam Schiff, the committee’s Democratic minority leader, held a press conference to put to rest Trump’s allegations that he was wiretapped by the Obama administration. Schiff said:
“There’s no evidence whatsoever. We can’t find any evidence that Trump Tower was wiretapped.”
And Nunes said, “I can’t… We can’t… There’s no evidence that they wiretapped Trump Tower.”
But what seemed like a sure-fire victory for the liberals, was given a different interpretation in the land of the conservatives. Rush Limbaugh, for one, saw a silver lining:
And so once again the liberals think they’ve caught Trump. “Trump lied, Trump’s paranoid, Trump’s…” What they have just forced the left into doing is an entire press conference now where they admit Trump was not under investigation. So if Trump’s not under investigation, what does that do to the Trump-was-working-with-the-Russians-to-hijack-the-election story?
What We’re Watching:
We are sure the conspiracy theorist Mark Levin will be able to justify this one, but so far we are still waiting.
4. There Are Two Alt-Rights: Who is Paul Joseph Watson?
So to outsiders, white supremacists have always obviously been an ugly corner of the alt-right. What’s interesting is that the alt-right media is split on the extent to which racism is an inextricable part of the movement’s philosophy. The Daily Beast had a brief explainer about a battle that broke out this week over who deserves to be in the alt-right movement. The combatants: Richard Spencer, known white supremacist, Trump supporter and coiner of the term alt-right, and Paul Joseph Watson, a British video-blogger-turned-correspondent for Alex Jones’s InfoWars, another group of extremist Trump supporters.
The long and short of it is that Watson turned out to be the less racist of the two, arguing that alt-right can include all people, as long as they believe in the correct ideology. In fact, Watson has long argued there are two alt-rights. In a November tweet that drew 10k likes and 6.5 retweets, he wrote:
“There are now two ‘alt-rights’ One is more accurately described as the New Right. These people like to wear MAGA hats, create memes and have fun. They include whites, blacks, Asians, Latinos, gays and everyone else. These are the people who helped Trump win the election. The other faction likes to fester in dark corners of sub-reddits and obsess about Jews, racial superiority and Adolf Hitler. This is a tiny fringe minority. They had no impact on the election. Guess which faction the media is giving all the attention to?”
But who is Watson? While he frequently appears in our newsletter because of the popularity of his Twitter feed, we can assure you that he is hardly a model of moderation. In an interview with a local British paper a few months back, he said he grew up in Council Estates in Britain feeling poor and has used YouTube commentaries to “force the world into acknowledging my existence.” He is most famous for a video he made during the presidential campaign that alleged falsely that Hillary was in very ill health. It went viral with over 5 million views. He was a regular contributor to the Drudge Report before being scooped up by InfoWars.
Still, despite his sometimes virulent attacks, he does not see himself as racist or sexist:
“I’m not really Alt-Right. A lot of them are incredibly obsessed with Jews controlling the world and I could never allow myself to become that obsessed with anything since I get bored of subjects rather easily. That brand of the Alt-Right behave like right-wing social justice warriors, but there’s also another camp who are just sick of being let down by traditional conservatives who have only succeeded in losing almost every argument to the left over the last 30 years. I identify with those guys.”
This week, we saw the rebirth of the defiant hashtag #Iamaclimatechangedenier, which peaked on Twitter Tuesday night with 15k tweets. Its resurgence was inspired by a combination of the snowstorm that hit the East Coast on Tuesday and recent remarks by the E.P.A. chief, Scott Pruitt, denying that human activity was the main contributor to climate change. The comments, many of which came with infographics, revealed just how strong the denial remains in this country. It also showed how fake information feeds and reinforces itself. In particular, we noticed that the deniers had two arguments:
- The long view. If you look at Earth’s climate over millions and millions of years, you’ll see that temperatures have gone up and down before. (While that is true, the speed of warming in the current period is unprecedented.)
- Scientists made predictions of global cooling 30 years ago and those turned out to be entirely false. (In 1975, Newsweek wrote a story based on the conjecture of a few scientists that soot in the air would block the sun and cause global cooling. It turned out to be very wrong. But those articles have undermined 40 years of climate science showing the opposite. For more background see this informative piece from Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-the-global-cooling-story-came-to-be/
Ian56 @Ian56789, with 29.5 k, followers wrote:
Earth's climate has been changing for 100's of millions of yrs. The hoax is that man & not the sun is now causing it. #IAmAClimateChangeDenier
General Halley @HalleyBorderCol with 33k followers wrote:
#IAmAClimateChangeDenier because the models are wrong. Overestimate effect of co2 on atmospheric water vapor - the main greenhouse gas.