Sanders won’t dispute claim that media is ‘enemy’ of people
By JILL COLVIN
Friday, August 3
WASHINGTON (AP) — White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday refused to distance herself from President Donald Trump’s assertions that the media is the “enemy” of the American people.
Pressed during a White House briefing on the issue, Sanders said Trump “has made his position known.”
In a heated exchange with reporters, she recited a litany of complaints against the press and blamed the media for inflaming tensions in the country.
“As far as I know, I’m the first press secretary in the history of the United States that’s required Secret Service protection,” she said, accusing the media of continuing “to ratchet up the verbal assault against the president and everyone in this administration.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta, who has become a lightning rod for anti-media sentiment and was loudly heckled during a Trump rally in Florida on Tuesday night, implored Sanders to break from the president, who first decried the press as the “enemy of the American people” last year.
“I think it would be a good thing if you were to say right here at this briefing that the press, the people who are gathered in this room right now … are not the enemy of the people,” Acosta said, adding: “All the people around the world are watching what you’re saying.”
Sanders, appearing to read from prepared remarks, responded with a critique of the press for resorting “to personal attacks without any content other than to incite anger.”
“The media has attacked me personally on a number of occasions, including your own network, CNN,” she told Acosta. She also cited the comedian who performed at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, saying the comic was brought in “to attack my appearance and call me a traitor to my own gender.”
Acosta later walked out of the briefing in protest. Another reporter quickly filled his seat.
The exchange came hours after the president’s eldest daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, broke with her father at an event hosted by Axios, and said that she does not view the news media as “the enemy of the people.”
“I’ve certainly received my fair share of reporting on me personally that I know not to be fully accurate. So … I have some sensitivity around why people have concerns and gripe, especially when they sort of feel targeted. But no, I do not feel that the media is the enemy of the people,” Ivanka Trump said.
The president tried to minimize the divide in a tweet later Thursday.
“They asked my daughter Ivanka whether or not the media is the enemy of the people. She correctly said no. It is the FAKE NEWS, which is a large percentage of the media, that is the enemy of the people!” he wrote.
The president regularly lashes out at news outlets and individual reporters, accusing them of spreading “fake news” — his term for stories he dislikes.
His attacks have drawn rebukes from free press advocates, human rights experts, professional journalism associations and the publisher of The New York Times, who said this week that he took Trump to task for “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric” that is “not just divisive but increasingly dangerous” when the two met privately at the White House this month.
The tensions have been especially acute at Trump’s rallies, where his supporters often jeer at, curse and harass reporters working in a closed-off media pen.
A Politico reporter responded to one such scene at Tuesday’s rally in Florida with tweets calling the hecklers “garbage people” with missing teeth.
Marc Caputo, who covers Florida, deleted his tweets and apologized Wednesday for his “caustic remarks.”
“In the age of social media, where divisiveness serves no decent purpose, these flippant comments on my part only made things worse and contributed to a cycle of rage that I should not have inflamed further. So I’m sorry,” he wrote.
Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey in Washington contributed to this report.
Follow Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj
White House Reporters Should Boycott Sarah Sanders’ Press Briefings
While Rome (and Most Everywhere Else) Burns
by Mel Gurtov
By now we’re accustomed to learning that every year brings record high temperatures around the world. Extreme weather, says Prof. Michael Mannof Pennsylvania State University, “is the face of climate change. We literally would not have seen these extremes in the absence of climate change. The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle. We are seeing them play out in real time and what is happening this summer is a perfect example of that. We are seeing our predictions come true. As a scientist that is reassuring, but as a citizen of planet Earth, it is very distressing to see that as it means we have not taken the necessary action.”
Ordinary folks, rich and poor, who live in low-lying areas such as port cities and towns on rivers and coastlines, and in certain forested areas, are in increasing danger of losing their homes—and possibly their lives—to floods and fires. But members of the governing and business elite always have the option to move away from flood and fire zones, not to mention pollution and hurricanes. So where’s their incentive to think ahead and about others’ wellbeing? They need to be called to account!
Climate change, Michael Mann explained, may not be the direct cause of every single weather event. But it raises the risk of disaster by as much as two-fold, and every such disaster adds to the possibility of ecosystem collapse. Just in the last few months we have more bad newsin which climate change plays a part: loss of a near-record 39 million acres of tropical forests in 2017, and a tripling of Antarctic ice sheet lossover the last decade compared with the previous one.
Every world leader who shrinks from directly addressing this situation through public and international policy is, to my mind, guilty of a crime against humanity. A harsh judgment? As I read scientists’ reports about just how fast the polar ice caps are melting, how quickly seas are rising, and how temperatures worldwide are making new records, I conclude that worsening environmental conditions are outrunning both scientific predictions and the ability to act in time. Inaction in such dire circumstances is inexcusable, and should be punishable, on behalf of humanity.
The Trump administration is taking action, but in precisely the wrong direction. Adding to its horrendous record on the environment, the administration is pushing a plan to roll back Obama-era regulations on car and truck tailpipe emissions, which account for as much as 60 percent of carbon dioxide pollution in the US. Even car makers, concerned about the bottom line, are reportedly opposed to the extent of the proposed rollback of emission standards. But once again, it will be up to local-level resistance if this fight is to be won—our environmental and legal organizations and especially state governments like California’s that are determined to maintain tough (tougher even than Obama’s) carbon limits. In fact, California is on track to meet its legal commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. That’s the kind of leadership we should follow.*
*And within hours of writing that, 18 other states reported that they would sue the administration to stop the rollback.
Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.
The Cummington Story
By Richie Davis
The little red house in the hill town of Cummington, Mass. (pop. 800) sits not far along Main Street from the town’s historical museum, which marks its 50th anniversary this summer with continuous Saturday showings of a 1945 U.S. government documentary about a proud moment that echoes today.
It was in that house, as depicted in “The Cummington Story,” that many of the 44 World War II refugees who found sanctuary in this western Massachusetts community stayed between 1940 and 1944.
The 20-minute U.S. Overseas War Information Bureau film (https://archive.org/details/gov.archives.arc.46921), which was translated into 20 languages, dramatizes the temporary haven the Rev. Carl Sangree offered for German and Austrian refugees through the General Council of Congregational Christian Churches.
The Yankee townsfolk, at first suspicious of who these foreigners were and why they’d traveled on a Greyhound bus to the picturesque New England village, felt the strangers — many of them artists, craftspeople and literary figures who were political refugees or part of mixed religion couples who fell through the cracks of other other assistance programs — couldn’t be trusted.
But the strangers, who used their stay at the makeshift hostel— a dozen at a time — to retool their skills to find their way to new lives, won over the locals by their hard work.
The film was part of a series the U.S. government used to be shown in recently liberated Europe to counteract enemy propaganda and show the value of democratic institutions, from a New England town meeting to the freedom of religious expression.
Yet “The Cummington Story” also hints at some of the tensions the foreigners experienced, with some villagers — believing they were spies — even threatening to shoot them. They were confined to their rooms during a quarantine imposed after the nation declared war on Japan in 1941.
Tensions seem to melt away by the film’s end through a kind of “occupational therapy” of these strangers honing their skills and taking part in village life in a way that helps both groups feel more comfortable with one another.
“I’ve always felt the strangeness between people breaks down when they live and work and meet together as neighbors,” says Sangree, who serves as narrator of the film, and who himself was suspect because he played basketball on Sundays amid the ‘Puritan’ people of Cummington.
The Cummington story of today is of a small town that still struggles decades after the region’s manufacturing base as well as its dairy farms were lost. Even its elementary school recently shut down.
Yet what remains is a pride in this town, which was home to two U.S. poets laureate over the past 50 years and was also the home of poet and New York Post publisher William Cullen Bryant, a prime supporter of Abraham Lincoln’s presidential ambitions.
Some of its new residents any of the newer residents may hardly be aware of Sangree and the refugees he helped here, says the Rev. Stephen Philbrick, pastor of one of the tiny town’s two Congregational churches, whose wife is Sangree’s granddaughter.
“People are passionate here about a lot of things,” says Philbrick, a standard bearer at the 15-year-old weekly peace vigil in front of the Bryant homestead to champion a variety of causes, including the latest crackdown on immigration.
Pride, and a sense of social justice, run deep in Cummington, as the continuous showing of the 1945 film demonstrates, in part because of its role in offering refuge to foreigners who turned to America for help in starting a new life.
Richie Davis, distributed by PeaceVoice, is an award-winning journalist with 45 years experience whose reporting from Kentucky was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
Opinion: July Jobs Report Calls for Strategic Workforce Training
By Cindy Cisneros
The latest Department of Labor jobs report released Friday for the month of July once again has great news for workers, but bad news for employers: America has more open jobs (approximately 6.7 million) than it has unemployed workers to fill them (6.3 million). This type of labor market can make the business community nervous, but employers do have options, including doing their part to grow the American workforce.
I am not talking about workforce growth through birth rates or immigration policies; I am talking about increasing the American workforce through the type of skills training that can bring the long-term unemployed population back into the labor market. Because America is not actually short on workers — we are short on skilled workers and those who are actively looking for work. If employers encourage and welcome some key groups back into the “actively looking” category, they will once again have a labor market that is on their side.
Americans who have dropped out of the workforce — for reasons that range from job loss to child rearing to military service — can face discrimination. They may be demoralized, and they may lack the specific skills that employers are looking for. Those who have recently entered the workforce (new high school or college graduates) can experience similar barriers — a lack of skills, networks and confidence. All of these obstacles can be overcome through strategic, relevant and continuing workforce training.
Workers who lost their jobs during the recession and have given up trying to find a job can be — in the context of meaningful training and an unbalanced job market — not an economic liability, but an important untapped resource. The same is true of veterans, older workers and women or other caregivers who are re-entering the workforce after time away.
There is encouraging evidence that the business community, and leaders in government, have already begun to engage in this task of growing the workforce through more intentional skills training. In July, a group of employers (including FedEx, General Motors, Home Depot, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Walmart) gathered at the White House to sign a pledge to train almost 4 million workers by expanding apprenticeship programs, increasing on-the-job training, and educating both students and workers throughout their careers.
On that day, President Trump signed an executive order establishing the National Council for the American Worker — a group of Cabinet members and senior White House officials who are now developing a strategy for skills training. The president’s order also created a Workforce Policy Advisory Board designed to bring together governors with business leaders and educators around the issue of worker training.
It is encouraging to see these collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors. On the employer side, apprenticeship and return-to-work programs are beginning to look like a growing trend. Aon has demonstrated that apprenticeship programs are not just for blue-collar workers, and has shared their own template with a group of other major employers in the Chicago area as part of a larger “Chicago Apprentice Network.” Goldman Sachs is among a handful of companies offering opportunities specifically to workers who have left the workforce for two or more years and are ready to return but need an on-ramp of skills development.
In the education sector, there is interesting potential in high school programs that partner with local employers to offer on-the-job-training, for high school credit, to students. Work-based learning opportunities are seen as a key to success by ensuring readiness for this young adult population. “Working colleges,” where students are required to work as part of the curriculum, could also experience an expansion across the country to help meet current labor market needs.
Strategic workforce training is the rare solution that receives enthusiastic support from all sectors and both major political parties. This creates an opportunity ripe for innovation and bold action. Employers who are anxious about the latest labor report should not worry; they should reach out, welcome back, and train forward.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Cindy Cisneros is the vice president of education programs at the Committee for Economic Development. She wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Opinion: Which Came First, the President or the Lie?
By David Schoenbrod
The revelation last week of a tape on which candidate Donald Trump discusses paying hush money to a former Playboy Playmate has put the president’s veracity at center stage. That revelation following his claim that he meant the opposite of what he said in Helsinki about Russian meddling in the election makes it hard for either his supporters or opponents to hear him without wondering whether others will think he’s lying.
Last Wednesday, PBS devoted a quarter of its “NewsHour” to “What’s happened to truth under President Trump?” Featured was Peter Wehner, head of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives under President George W. Bush, who stated, “We have never had a president who … lies so pathologically, and lies needlessly often.”
Yet, systematic lying came to Washington before President Trump and, indeed, its presence there helped get him elected.
Washington has long tolerated high officials lying rationally rather than pathologically or needlessly. The need is to avoid losing out to rivals who do lie. Politicians have, of course, always engaged in spin, but the fibbing got weaponized a half century ago when presidents and members of Congress of both parties began to adopt new, deceitful ways of legislating that let them take credit for promising more than government could conceivably deliver.
Consider the contrast between the old and new ways that Congress has legislated on helping retirees. In setting up Social Security in 1935, Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt required workers and employers to pay contributions sufficient to finance the benefits promised in the future. The upshot was that elected officials took the blame for the burdens as well as the credit for the benefits.
In the new way, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson structured Medicare in 1965 so that the benefits then promised would eventually outstrip the payments then imposed. Similarly, in 1972, Congress and President Richard Nixon increased Social Security benefits without commensurate increases in payments. In both cases, the upshot was that elected officials got credit for the benefits but shifted blame for much of the burdens to their successors in office. The eventual long-term deficits were swept under the rug with the solemn assertion that the richest nation on earth can afford to be good to its old folks.
Congress and presidents promised more than government can deliver on other spending, regulation and indeed every important aspect of government. Yet, the lying was done so skillfully — so rationally, if you will — that most voters couldn’t hold individual elected officials accountable at the polls for the deceits.
Yet, the failed promises have bred distrust of Washington as a whole. According to a 2017 Harris Poll, three-quarters of prospective retirees over 50 believe that Social Security will run out of money in their lifetime. According to the Pew Research Center, in 1964, a little more than a half century ago, three-quarters of voters trusted the federal government to do “the right thing” most of time — but in 2015 only one-fifth did so.
Distrust of Washington helps understand why presidential candidates Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and especially Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders ran as outsiders to Washington.
Getting rid of Trump won’t get rid of the lying in Washington or restore trust in our government. To restore trust, we must stop the collective lying through statutes. For that, we need new ground rules of legislation that require elected officials to take responsibility for the unpopular consequences as well as the popular ones.
With regulation, for example, instead of simply legislating that agencies shall deliver the benefit of regulatory protection, elected officials should join in taking responsibility for important regulatory burdens The new ground rules of legislation on spending, regulation and everything else are in a statute that I have proposed called “The Honest Deal Act.”
Join me to stop the supposedly rational and needed, but actually insidious lying.
ABOUT THE WRITER
David Schoenbrod is a professor at New York Law School and author of “DC Confidential: Inside the Five Tricks of Washington.” He wrote this for InsideSources.com.