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Calm down, everyone! Virginia shootings don’t mean it’s open season on local reporters

The tragic shooting incident in Virginia the other day seems to have given rise to at least a smattering of undue concern about the safety of local news reporters around the country. The killing of two reporters from a Roanoke TV station seems more representative of garden-variety workplace violence than any emerging war against journalists. In this case, a mentally disturbed former workmate of the victims killed them while they were out doing their jobs. It had nothing to do with a general resentment of the media or objections to the stories the victims had reported. I’ve seen suggestions that security personnel should accompany TV news crews when they’re out in the field. But that strategy seems prohibitively expensive in most cases. It’s also a silly idea. The truth of the matter is that local reporters in America do not hold especially dangerous jobs. Mike Cavender, executive director of the Radio Television Digital News Association (a guy with whom I worked many years ago, by the way) said this in a statement to the Washington Post the other day: “TV is a stressful business, but the fact is we’ve seen workplace violence occur in places that are far less stressful than TV…Every workplace has to be aware of and deal with” individuals who are unstable. The careers of most local reporters don’t include any truly dangerous situations. Yes, angry phone calls from offended readers or viewers are not uncommon. And sometimes idle threats are made. But, in my 50 years as a local journalist, I never had any great concern for my personal safety. Granted, newsroom security generally was heightened over the course of my career, but most of it was just an example of playing it safe — and it was not unlike similar measures adopted in countless other businesses and industries. All in all, however, that isolated case in Virginia should be no cause for alarm. It was a tragedy, but it wasn’t likely a sign of heightened danger in the news business in particular.    ...

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George Will still peddling false argument that President Obama is especially narcissistic

  Poor George Will! He’s not the hot-shot columnist he used to be. He’s no longer on ABC on Sunday mornings — rather, he’s at Fox News, where the audience is smaller. His brand of conservatism doesn’t resonate among today’s Republican wingnuts. He’s become a preacher without a choir. Another sign of Will’s decline is his persistence in peddling snide little falsehoods. Consider, for example, his repeated claims that President Obama is more narcissistic than most presidents, as evidenced by frequent references to himself in his speeches and pronouncements. Will has been spewing this stuff for several years now, despite detailed debunking of it all by people who have actually looked into the matter. He did it again today, in a COLUMN about the Donald Trump phenomenon. In an aside, Will said Trump “uses the first-person singular pronoun even more than the previous world-record holder (Obama)…” The problem with this  argument, as George Will should know by now, is that Obama uses the first-person singular pronoun less frequently than most past presidents. Check  THIS: Conservative commentators are fond of pointing to Barack Obama’s excessive use of the word “I” as evidence of the president’s narcissism. (“For God’s sake, he talks like the emperor Napoleon,” Charles Krauthammer complained recently.) But there’s one tiny problem with this line of reasoning. If you’re counting pronouns, Obama is maybe the least narcissistic president since 1945. BuzzFeed News analyzed more than 2,000 presidential news conferences since 1929, looking for usage of first-person singular pronouns — “I,” “me,” “my,” “mine,” and “myself.” Just 2.5 percent of Obama’s total news-conference words fell into this category. Only Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt used them less often. While presidential news conferences don’t capture the totality of how Obama or Hoover or Roosevelt talk, they represent one of the largest corpuses — if not the largest — of presidential speaking. Every president has at least 125,000 spoken words in the data set. The news conferences also typically feature a mix of scripted remarks and a question-and-answer session. Even in presidential speeches, which are highly scripted, Obama’s usage of first-person singular pronouns ranks below average — 1.6 percent vs. 1.8 percent....

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Big-time hypocrisy: Fox News complains about Donald Trump’s sexist remarks!

Of all the crazy political happenings this year, one of the weirdest is the unlikely stance taken by Fox News in support of — wait for it — POLITICAL CORRECTNESS. Fox News, like its counterparts in right-wing talk radio, has always dismissed sensitivity about racist and sexist remarks as just so much liberal PC. Regular viewers of Fox News — mostly old, white men — have agreed heartily. But suddenly things have changed. Fox itself is now playing the PC card. The network wants Donald Trump to apologize for his nasty remarks about Megyn Kelly, a prime-time star on Fox News Channel. Amanda Marcotte has more on this matter HERE: Donald Trump has reignited his sexist harassment campaign against Megyn Kelly, and the folks at Fox News are, in seemingly coordinated fashion, striking back. Fellow Fox News hosts and pundits are asking Trump to cool it, and even Roger Ailes has released a statement calling Trump’s abuse “unacceptable” and “disturbing.” It’s almost touching, watching all these conservative media people who usually profit at peddling sexism choose, this time at least, to join together in an effort to stop this one particular instance of it… Conservative media and Fox News in particular have spent years – decades, if you count talk radio – training their audiences to believe that exhortations against sexism and racism are nothing but the “political correctness” police trying to kill your good time. Indeed, one reason that Trump was able to get so much attention for his presidential run in the first place is that Fox has spent years building him up, knowing that their audience enjoys vicariously needling imagined liberals and feminists with his loud-mouthed insult comic act. (Snip) No one should understand this better than the people at Fox News. After all, this is the monster they created. They should know what it wants and what it’s capable of. But instead, they seem to think that if you just shake your finger at the right wing base and tell them to be nice to the lady who dared talk back to their hero, Donald Trump, they will somehow realize that they’re not actually courageous warriors holding back the forces of political correctness, but that they are instead just a bunch of jerks....

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Let me explain once again why Joe Biden will not run for president

Three weeks ago today, I posted my prediction here that Vice President Joe Biden will not run for the 2016 Democratic nomination to succeed his boss in the White House. Ever since then, most political pundits across the land seem to have been on a specific mission to embarrass me on this point. They’re all atwitter about prospects that Biden will jump into the race sometime in the next few months. I’m still convinced that Joe won’t do it. He’s almost 73 years old, and I don’t think he wants to run the risk of ending his otherwise laudable political career with a divisive, vainglorious and probably futile effort to deny the most popular woman in his party the Democratic nomination. Long-time Democratic operative Brent Budowsky has more to say on this matter HERE: Had Biden announced his candidacy many months ago and articulated a powerful progressive rationale for his candidacy, I might have supported him. He didn’t, and the sole premise driving talk of a Biden campaign today is a negative premise that is unlikely to happen, i.e. that the campaign of Clinton will implode.  Whatever he may say, announcing his candidacy now would be a virtual declaration of war against Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and millions of ardent women who believe the Democratic front-runner is under a vicious and slanderous partisan attack aimed to destroy the prospects for the first woman president, who is also the most qualified candidate in the field today. Many Clinton supporters would consider Biden a vulture candidate trying to ride the horse of right-wing attacks to power. (Snip) It is true that Clinton has challenges to overcome, that she is going through a rough patch that is common in presidential politics, that many Democrats are privately nervous at this time, and that she made a mistake using a private email, which she herself has acknowledged. My view is that while it is theoretically possible that a bombshell emerges from the email issue, the probability of this happening is 5 percent or less. Meanwhile Republicans, driven by Donald Trump, are taking extreme positions similar to the National Front extremist parties in Europe that many women and Hispanics believe constitute a war against women and Hispanics — something that will ultimately bring waves of support to Clinton, who many see as their champion.  Where is the lane on the track for Joe Biden to run in the Kentucky Derby of presidential politics? There is no such lane. It would be a huge mistake for the former Delaware senator to run what many would consider a vulture campaign for his political advantage without a noble and compelling rationale or enthusiastic base of grassroots support that does not exist.  ...

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If Biden joins the race, will it actually help boost Hillary’s candidacy?

Weeks ago, I flatly predicted here that Vice President Joe Biden will NOT join the race for the Democratic nomination. Yes, speculation that Biden might run after all has only increased in the interim, but I’m sticking with my prediction. I just don’t think it’s in the cards. Ah, but there’s at least one group of analysts who think that a Biden candidacy would work to Hillary Clinton’s advantage. HERE‘s what they say: The Joe Biden buzz continues — after the vice president met with Elizabeth Warren on Saturday and after the Wall Street Journal reports that he’s increasingly leaning toward a White House run. Yet despite how a Biden bid could initially hurt Hillary Clinton (make no mistake, it would be a clear rebuke to her), there are two reasons why Biden running could actually help her. First, it would force Clinton and her campaign to step up their game. “She’s a terrible front-runner but she’s a marvelous candidate when she gets into the middle of the race,” as NBC/WSJ co-pollster Peter Hart (D) put it on “Meet the Press” yesterday. In other words, give her a real Democratic race — a la what she experienced in the spring of 2008 when Clinton trailed Barack Obama — and it’ll force her to be a stronger candidate. Two, Biden jumping in would swap the scandal-focused coverage of Clinton and replace it with horserace-focused coverage. It has become increasingly apparent that Hillary Clinton might not be able to beat a unified political press corps on constant scandal patrol. But she could beat Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.  ...

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Here’s why I still think Trump won’t win the Republican nomination

You’ve probably forgotten that this isn’t the first time a thrice-married, formerly pro-choice, rude person from New York City has led the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Rudy Giuliani did it eight years ago. And Rudy’s lead in the polls was more impressive at that time than Donald Trump’s is now. In the end, however, Rudy wasn’t much of a factor in the race. Trump almost certainly will meet a similar fate. Tom McCarthy of The Guardian says so HERE: Trump is only at 25% – not high enough to score wins in most primary elections and caucuses – and there are persuasive reasons to believe he cannot climb much higher. What’s more, his numbers in individual state polls in Iowa (22%) and New Hampshire (18%) are currently lower than his national numbers. That means he may not be as competitive early on as he appears. In the first 13 Republican primary and caucus elections in 2012, the winner garnered an average of 41.8% of the vote. Trump is polling nationally at around 25%. Where do the extra 17 points come from? (Snip) Do you know anyone who is undecided about Donald Trump? Neither do most Americans. That’s because Trump is one of the most famous people in the country and is currently benefitting from grossly disproportionate media coverage. Everybody’s heard of Trump. Problematically for him, familiarity has not bred affection. Trump has the worst favorability rating within his own party of any Republican candidate except for Obama-hugger Chris Christie, according to new polling of key swing states by Quinnipiac University. In the contest for undecided voters, Trump appears weaker than any of his rivals, because everybody already knows who he is, and an unusual number of Republicans already don’t like him.                            ...

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