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Trump’s harsh attacks produce the debate he wants, on Socialist Democrats

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6059973938001_6059973559001-vs Trump’s harsh attacks produce the debate he wants, on Socialist Democrats Frank Miles fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 54a924af-cf16-5b31-9253-afd134d586a4

Since I’ve been tough on President Trump’s attacks on the Democratic freshmen, and since the media outrage has been deafening, and since all House Democrats (and four Republicans) voted for a resolution condemning his tweets, I’ll begin by giving the floor to the president’s supporters.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said yesterday he does not believe the Trump attacks are racist. “I believe this is about ideology. … This is all about politics,” he said.

Newt Gingrich said Trump believes “the more he can get the country to look at the so-called squad, the more he can get them to realize how radical they are, and how fundamentally anti-American their views are; in the long run, the better off he is.”

Maryland GOP congressman Andy Harris said the tweets are “obviously not racist,” but “when anyone disagrees with someone now, the default is you call them a racist and this is no exception.”

He said Trump “could’ve meant go back to the district that they came from or the neighborhood they came from,” though the president has specifically talked about Ilhan Omar and Somalia.

Fox News’ Jesse Watters said while his mother views the tweets as racist, “Mom’s not going to scare me off. These were not racist. This was about patriotism. When did ‘Love it or leave it?’ become racist? Not only leave it, hey, come back and help us fix our problems.”

And the president himself tweeted yesterday that “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!”, adding: “The Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a free pass and a big embrace from the Democrat Party. … Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said?”

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What the Republican Party now wants—or is forced to want, since most members believe it’s political suicide to take on Trump—is to blur the debate.

In this view, it’s not about Trump saying the women should “go back” to where they came from before returning, it’s about the left-wing extremism of AOC, Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.

This, I believe, was Trump’s strategy all along, to create enough of a firestorm that they become the face of the Democratic Party and his own initial attacks become beside the point.

That’s what Lindsey Graham did in mildly suggesting that his golfing buddy “aim higher” while trashing the freshmen: “We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists. They hate Israel, they hate our own country.”

(His former House colleague Joe Scarborough accused him of “McCarthyism.”)

A relative handful of Republicans, meanwhile, spoke out against the president’s attacks on the four women:

Mitt Romney: “Destructive, demeaning and disunifying.” Lisa Murkowski: “There is no excuse for the president’s spiteful comments–they were absolutely unacceptable and this needs to stop.” Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, chided Trump for “unacceptable personal attacks and racially charged language.”

There are big challenges here for the media as well. I said yesterday on “America’s Newsroom” that news outlets should be cautious about branding Trump’s attacks as racist, as if it were an undisputed fact. CNN, CBS, ABC and, after an internal debate, the Washington Post are among those who have done so in straight news stories and segments.

My view is that readers and viewers are smart, especially when the president uses language that closely mirrors the historic “go back to Africa” taunts against blacks.

Cover the story aggressively, lay things out, and they can make up their own minds. Don’t act like the opposition party.

A larger question is whether the media are playing into the president’s hands. A New York Times editorial accused Trump of the politics of distraction:

“His comments elicited precisely the sort of media coverage and public outcry that he thrives on. So he did what he usually does: He went a step further…

“Mr. Trump’s aim of stoking an endless culture war puts his political critics in a bind. They can take his bait and fight back, participating in the divisive distraction he’s designed to energize his supporters, or they can ignore his outbursts and risk normalizing his terrible behavior.”

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The fact is that a president can command media attention any time he wants, and that was true in the pre-Twitter age as well. And when a president makes divisive accusations of this magnitude, and the other party explodes in outrage, which is a very big story that can’t be minimized or ignored.

To do otherwise is to try to stage-manage the news for political reasons. And besides, it never works.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6059973938001_6059973559001-vs Trump’s harsh attacks produce the debate he wants, on Socialist Democrats Frank Miles fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 54a924af-cf16-5b31-9253-afd134d586a4   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6059973938001_6059973559001-vs Trump’s harsh attacks produce the debate he wants, on Socialist Democrats Frank Miles fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 54a924af-cf16-5b31-9253-afd134d586a4

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President plays with racial fire, unifying squabbling Democrats

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6059475568001_6059474244001-vs President plays with racial fire, unifying squabbling Democrats Howard Kurtz fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article a541661d-567f-5773-a923-1c44e2e1bdda

I thought it was refreshing when President Trump defended Nancy Pelosi against insinuations of racism, even though he was doing it to criticize the four freshmen congresswomen who have been feuding with her.

He should have stopped there.

I saw his tweets slamming the four “women of color,” as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls them, about an hour before “Media Buzz” went on the air.

I said there would be a media explosion over his language, and that began almost instantly—as Trump knew would be the case.

I cannot defend the Trump attacks, not least because three of the four lawmakers—except Ilhan Omar, a Somali-born refugee who is a naturalized American citizen—were born in this country.

The president’s tweet was not a dog whistle, it was audible to everyone: “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.” He said they “can’t leave fast enough.”

I am not a fan of Omar, who even many Democrats have assailed for her anti-Semitic comments. But she is a duly elected member of Congress. And in a country where blacks have heard “go back to Africa” taunts for many decades, this struck a very raw nerve.

Similarly, I am not anti-Trump (or pro-Trump, for that matter).

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The president usually has a finely tuned ear for what he can get away with. He edges over the line in ways that enable him to dominate the news on his terms, but leaves him with some rhetorical wiggle room.

That wasn’t the case here, which is why most Republicans are remaining silent. Even loyalist Lindsey Graham, while calling the AOC group “a bunch of communists,” told Fox News that Trump should “knock it down a notch.”

Trump denied yesterday that the attacks were racist, saying he didn’t mention any names but that people who “hate our country” should leave.

But he directly called out Omar by name as someone “who’s never happy,” who “hates Israel,” who “hates Jews” and likes al-Qaeda.

I think we should be careful about conflating criticism of our country with being unpatriotic.

That’s a charge that was hurled at those who opposed the Vietnam War, the Iraq invasion, some security measures after 9/11.

Democracy is strong enough to tolerate dissent.

Mara Liasson observed on my show that the warring Democrats had formed “a circular firing squad,” but the Trump tweets now make it about him and unify the opposition party.

Indeed, the Dems are all on message. AOC, who sometimes goes too far herself (border facilities as “concentration camps”), accused Trump of using the “hallmark language of white supremacists” and “leading the GOP into outright racism.” Omar said Trump is “stoking white nationalism because you are angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda.”

Kamala Harris called the tweets “absolutely racist and un-American.”

A New York Times news analysis said Trump “plays with fire like no other president in a century. While others who occupied the White House at times skirted close to or even over the line, finding ways to appeal to the resentments of white Americans with subtle and not-so-subtle appeals, none of them in modern times fanned the flames as overtly, relentlessly and even eagerly as Mr. Trump.”

The president, the Times noted, sometimes says: “I am the least racist person you have ever met.”

“But he does not go out of his way to avoid looking like he is, and his string of Twitter posts on Sunday left his own advisers unable or unwilling to defend him.”

CNN offered no such qualifiers, accusing the president of a “racist attacks” in its on-screen headlines.

Trump’s rhetoric opened the door for the press to examine his past embrace of the birther movement, his denigration of s-hole countries, his “good people on both sides” comments after Charlottesville.

The Times piece by Peter Baker noted that other presidents have played racial politics: Richard Nixon’s southern strategy, Ronald Reagan’s welfare queens, George H. W. Bush’s use of Willie Horton, Bill Clinton’s Sister Souljah moment.

But they did it more subtly and indirectly.

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So I come back to my original question: Why did Trump knowingly fan these flames?

He would love to run against a Democratic Party that is symbolized by AOC, Omar, Pressley and Tlaib. He wants the Democrats to rally around the four liberal lawmakers. He believes that a love-it-or-leave-it debate over this squad will be so intense that the fact that he started it will eventually become a minor element.

Whether he’s right or wrong, Trump will pay a price.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6059475568001_6059474244001-vs President plays with racial fire, unifying squabbling Democrats Howard Kurtz fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article a541661d-567f-5773-a923-1c44e2e1bdda   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6059475568001_6059474244001-vs President plays with racial fire, unifying squabbling Democrats Howard Kurtz fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article a541661d-567f-5773-a923-1c44e2e1bdda

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Trump moves into damage control mode (just like every other politician)

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6057578370001_6057579557001-vs Trump moves into damage control mode (just like every other politician) Howard Kurtz fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 8c074953-0c1c-5508-ad52-406caeb2deb4

When the British ambassador to Washington was caught disparaging President Trump in cables back to London, everyone knew what happened next would be rather undiplomatic.

The president Twitter-taunted “wacky” Kim Darroch, and said he’d refuse to deal with him, even though his job was to give candid advice, and he never intended the harsh assessments of Trump to become public. Sir Kim quickly resigned, saying it had become impossible for him to do his job.

But there was this telling line from the president:  “I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool.”

Well, Trump did know Theresa May’s envoy, and had dealt with him in a number of meetings. It’s rather obvious that he was distancing himself from someone who was now trashing him.

The distancing thing is one arrow in the damage-control backpack, one that nearly every politician uses at one time or another. When a campaign donor turns out to be a crook. When a top aide writes a derogatory book. Or, as in the case of Jeffrey Epstein, when an old friend turns out to be a pedophile.

The distancers have been breaking speed records with Epstein, who has been charged with sex trafficking after a sweetheart deal approved by Labor Secretary Alex Acosta back in 2008 all but let him off the hook for having sex with young girls.

Trump told reporters he had a “falling out” with Epstein and hasn’t spoken to him in 15 years. (The New York Times reported that a business associate was to bring 28 young women to Mar-a-Lago for a “calendar girl” competition, and was surprised that the only attendees were to be Trump and Epstein.)

Bill Clinton rushed out a statement that he had flown on Epstein’s private jet only four times, and visited him only on a couple of other occasions.

In the Beltway culture, distancing is a fine and much-practiced art.

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The Washington Post says the Trump maneuver has become something of an insider joke among his advisers. With the Darroch dustup, “the rejoinder fit a familiar pattern for Trump, who is quick to minimize ties with people who criticize him or who find themselves facing an onslaught of negative attention that reflects poorly on the president.

“Among those who have gotten the ‘I barely know the guy’ treatment: Former acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker, conservative commentator Ann Coulter, former lawyer Michael Cohen, fired FBI director James B. Comey, former senior White House aide Stephen K. Bannon, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former State Department official Brett McGurk, longtime adviser Roger Stone, former White House aide Cliff Sims, former campaign aide George Papadopoulos and even the rapper Lil Jon, who starred on Trump’s reality TV show ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’”

That’s fair game. When Steve Bannon, who was Trump’s campaign chairman in the final stretch and White House senior adviser, left the fold, his ex-boss said: “Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books.”

So the maneuver is executed not just with people who get mired in scandal but with those who suddenly turn on Trump. Remember Omarosa?

There are endless variations on the distancing act when an aide or confidant must be cut loose. I had no idea. Deeply disappointed. Just one of many advisers. If I had known I would have taken immediate action. I am demanding a full investigation.

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As a businessman accustomed to cutting his losses, Donald Trump may be more aggressive than most in curtailing political damage by minimizing past relationships. But he hardly invented the practice.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6057578370001_6057579557001-vs Trump moves into damage control mode (just like every other politician) Howard Kurtz fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 8c074953-0c1c-5508-ad52-406caeb2deb4   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6057578370001_6057579557001-vs Trump moves into damage control mode (just like every other politician) Howard Kurtz fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 8c074953-0c1c-5508-ad52-406caeb2deb4

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Lurching left: Are Democrats blowing their chance to beat Trump?

Westlake Legal Group debate Lurching left: Are Democrats blowing their chance to beat Trump? Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/elections/presidential-debate fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 6160b2e6-ac4e-5987-8f69-68b9945e6393

It’s standard practice in presidential politics: Candidates move to the left (or right) to win the nomination, then tack toward the center in the general election.

But the Democrats are in danger of marching so far left that they go over a cliff.

That’s not just my view. Mainstream reporters, who tend to be less sensitive to liberal positions that match their personal views, are openly acknowledging and debating the dramatic shift. It was even on the front page of The New York Times.

For those whose most fervent desire is to evict Donald Trump from the White House, there’s growing concern that the Democrats are blowing it.

GUTFELD: IT’S ALL DOWNHILL FOR BIDEN, HARRIS LIKELY TO BE DEM NOMINEE

The two debates in Miami last week crystallized how most of the candidates are taking stances that would antagonize many millions of Americans once you get out of the liberal bubble.

And the few contenders who are positioning themselves as left-of-center moderates are muting those views in the face of palpable progressive pressure. So with Trump already signaling that he plans to run against a socialist party, they — including Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar — are being lumped in with the left-wingers.

We’re talking here about big, fundamental stuff, especially on health insurance and immigration. And in some instances, these are positions that no presidential candidate other than Bernie would have dared take in 2016. But now, the aspirants are torn between the burning desire to beat Trump and the overwhelming urge to be in lockstep with a “woke” party. And those two imperatives are coming into direct conflict.

GUY BENSON: HARRIS’ ATTACK ON BIDEN SHOWS HE ISN’T ‘PREORDAINED FRONT-RUNNER’

The Democrats are now a party where all 10 candidates on stage raised their hands to support health services for illegal immigrants. As recently as 2016, Hillary Clinton drew flak for not having fully embraced a New York plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. And no one aggressively challenged Julian Castro when he called for decriminalizing illegal border crossings.

The Democrats are now a party where several top contenders (including Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, despite the latter’s subsequent attempt to fudge the issue) support government-run health care that would abolish private medical insurance for more than 150 million Americans.

The Democrats are now a party calling for free college tuition or free community college, which would be hugely expensive.

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The Times news story flat-out declares the debates showed that “many of the leading presidential candidates are breaking with the incremental politics of the Clinton and Obama eras, and are embracing sweeping liberal policy changes on some of the most charged public issues in American life, even at the risk of political backlash.”

And: “With moderate Democrats repeatedly drowned out or on the defensive in the debates, the sprint to the left has deeply unnerved establishment Democrats, who have largely picked the party nominees in recent decades.”

Two leading Clintonites, James Carville and Rahm Emanuel, are on the record as ripping the leftward march. Says Carville: “This is an election that Trump can’t win but Democrats can lose.”

Even more biting are pieces by two moderately conservative but anti-Trump columnists for the Times.

David Brooks, who says he couldn’t vote for Trump in a million years, writes under the headline “Dems, Please Don’t Drive Me Away”:

DONNA BRAZILE: BIDEN’S ADVISERS SHOULD HAVE BETTER PREPARED HIM FOR HARRIS CHALLENGE

“The party is moving toward all sorts of positions that drive away moderates and make it more likely the nominee will be unelectable. And it’s doing it without too much dissent.”

Brooks says, for instance, that “Democrats are wandering into dangerous territory on immigration. They properly trumpet the glories immigrants bring to this country. But the candidates can’t let anybody get to the left of them on this issue. So now you’ve got a lot of candidates who sound operationally open borders. Progressive parties all over the world are getting decimated because they have fallen into this pattern.”

Bret Stephens says the Dems are becoming “a party that makes too many Americans feel like strangers in their own country.”

He goes into an us-versus-them riff:

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“They speak Spanish. We don’t. They are not U.S. citizens or legal residents. We are. They broke the rules to get into this country. We didn’t. They pay few or no taxes. We already pay most of those taxes. They willingly got themselves into debt. We’re asked to write it off. They don’t pay the premiums for private health insurance. We’re supposed to give up ours in exchange for some V.A.-type nightmare. They didn’t start enterprises that create employment and drive innovation.”

And when a candidate like Biden offers more incremental change, essentially a return to the Obama era, he is mocked and dismissed for living in the past.

It’s not like the hard-left proposals will be magically forgotten in the fall of 2020. The Democrats sure are giving Trump plenty of ammunition.

Westlake Legal Group debate Lurching left: Are Democrats blowing their chance to beat Trump? Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/elections/presidential-debate fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 6160b2e6-ac4e-5987-8f69-68b9945e6393   Westlake Legal Group debate Lurching left: Are Democrats blowing their chance to beat Trump? Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/elections/presidential-debate fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 6160b2e6-ac4e-5987-8f69-68b9945e6393

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Democratic debates could be dull: A crowd in search of a breakthrough

Westlake Legal Group c4984274-Democratic-Debate-Miami Democratic debates could be dull: A crowd in search of a breakthrough Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/elections/presidential-debate fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 6d3875bd-16d6-5d54-8da7-a15a13d67aee

Some Democrats and liberal activists are worried that the first round of presidential debates, which kicks off tonight, could turn into a circular firing squad.

The worry is that with crowded stages and so many candidates desperate for a breakthrough moment, the events will devolve into a series of personal attacks designed to go viral.

ARNON MISHKIN: TWO DEBATES, TWENTY DEMOCRATS — HERE’S WHAT TO EXPECT

I think it’s equally likely that the debates become a snoozefest. The time constraints imposed by having 10 contenders on a stage won’t allow for much real debate, and many of them will still be introducing themselves to a public that knows little or nothing about them.

And with MSNBC moderators, including Rachel Maddow, asking the questions, the focus is likely to be on policy and not an effort to get the Democrats to pummel each other.

One easy prediction: The media will play an outsize role in declaring the winners and losers.

That’s less true in a one-on-one debate, but with 20 candidates fielding questions over four hours, the action will seem like a blur, and many Americans will either have missed the sessions or caught only part of them.

Beyond the prognostications, the clips that television chooses to endlessly replay (and which get traction online) will shape perceptions of the outcome long after the politicians get off the Miami stage.

JOE BIDEN MAKING MILLIONS, LIVING IN LAVISH HOMES SINCE LEAVING OFFICE: REPORT

And even early debates matter. Four years ago, Tim Pawlenty had charged Mitt Romney with being the original author of the health care plan he derisively termed “Obamneycare.” But during a debate, the Minnesota governor whiffed, fumbling questions about it with a mealy-mouthed explanation that he was just quoting Obama. The press concluded Pawlenty couldn’t deliver a punch, and he soon dropped out of the race.

The media verdict this week will be heavily influenced by the pundits’ own predilections. And if you want to know how the press is treating the top Democratic contenders heading into the televised showdowns, check out the latest coverage.

Joe Biden continues to face a sizable gap between the media’s low opinion of his candidacy and the way he’s being received in his (limited) appearances on the trail.

Politico acknowledges this, mainly by leaning on a poll that shows him with 38 percent support:

“Joe Biden’s all-too-friendly touching of women in the MeToo era was supposed to be toxic to his presidential campaign. Critics thought his flip flop on subsidized abortions would show how deeply out of touch he was with the modern Democratic Party.

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“The latest controversy buffeting his campaign — his statements about his working relationships with Dixiecrat segregationists when they served in the U.S. Senate together more than 40 years ago — has chewed through news cycles for the past week.

“Yet none of it seems to have damaged his standing in the race.”

The reason: in a Politico/Morning Consult survey, after hearing what Biden said about having worked with segregationist senators, “41 percent of likely primary voters said it would make no difference to them and 29 percent said they would be more likely to vote for him. Just 18 percent said they would be less likely to vote for him.” The split was similar among black voters.

I love the passive voice of this paragraph:

“Much of the conventional wisdom has so far been wrong about Biden — that his best day in polls would be his first as a candidate, that he wouldn’t be able to raise enough money to compete, that he was too moderate, too old or too white for the modern Democratic Party.”

And who propagated that CW? The media, in story after story after story.

ELIZABETH WARREN CALLS TO DECRIMINALIZE BORDER CROSSINGS 

Yet Biden still holds a 2-to-1 lead over his closest rival, as he did two months ago.

Liberal Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, who opposes Biden’s nomination for ideological reasons, says voters on the trail don’t ask about the segregationist flap and other media-centric controversies. But she essentially says he’s lost his fastball:

“Seeing Biden on the stump often feels like watching an actor who can’t quite remember his lines. Even if you don’t support him, it’s hard not to feel anxious on his behalf … His performance was unnerving.”

Now contrast that with the warm embrace of Elizabeth Warren, who has already been the subject of a glowing profile in The New York Times Magazine (and the New Yorker), and now gets another Times piece about growing up in Oklahoma and being in the debate club:

“She was competitive and had extraordinary focus and self-discipline, spending hours after school each day practicing … It has been over 50 years since that time and Liz Herring has become Elizabeth Warren, one of the 24 women and men vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency.

“Her ferocious command of details on a debate stage once earned her a college scholarship. Now she is deploying that skill in town halls across the country and on Wednesday in the Democratic National Committee’s first debate for the 2020 election.”

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As for Bernie, he’s depicted as being in trouble, as in this Washington Post strategy piece:

“The Bernie Sanders campaign, facing a new challenge in the rise of Elizabeth Warren, has settled for now on a careful if sometimes awkward strategy.”

The debates may shift the media handicapping, but unless there are fireworks, probably not all that much.

Westlake Legal Group c4984274-Democratic-Debate-Miami Democratic debates could be dull: A crowd in search of a breakthrough Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/elections/presidential-debate fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 6d3875bd-16d6-5d54-8da7-a15a13d67aee   Westlake Legal Group c4984274-Democratic-Debate-Miami Democratic debates could be dull: A crowd in search of a breakthrough Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/elections/presidential-debate fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 6d3875bd-16d6-5d54-8da7-a15a13d67aee

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Winning ugly? Media hit Trump style over Iran, but sometimes it works

Westlake Legal Group TrumpGettyIMagesJoeRaedle Winning ugly? Media hit Trump style over Iran, but sometimes it works Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/executive/economic-policy fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 57db892f-407d-58bb-80b6-66bbd07e2ad5

It’s a headline that captures the establishment’s disdain for the president’s unorthodox style of governing.

“Trump’s Erratic Policy Moves Put National Security at Risk, Experts Warn,” says The Washington Post.

Never mind that the first three critics quoted — after a defense from Mike Pence on CNN — were Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.

The other “experts” were two professors who were mildly critical and a lawyer who was supportive of Trump.

But the piece does get at a central question about this president in the wake of the aborted airstrikes against Iran, which he called off with 10 minutes to spare.

Does Trump preside over a messy and sometimes chaotic process? Of course. But sometimes that style gets results.

On Iran, for instance, many liberals liked that he pulled back on bombing over the downing of an unmanned drone, even as they say he extinguished a fire that he had started. (Maureen Dowd: “As shocking as it is to write this sentence, it must be said: Donald Trump did something right.”)

TRUMP SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER DELIVERING ‘HARD-HITTING’ SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN

In negotiations, the president often makes a dramatic demand or threat, sparking a media and diplomatic furor over whether this time he’s gone too far — then hammers out a compromise and claims victory. It’s the style of a blustery New York real estate developer who’s always one minute from walking away from the table, transferred to the staid, tradition-bound world of Washington.

Over the weekend, Trump called off a wave of ICE arrests that was to begin on Sunday, which he said would begin deportations of “millions” of illegal immigrants. That set off the predictable uproar.

Trump, after a reported call with Nancy Pelosi, said he was delaying the arrests for two weeks to allow time for negotiations with the Democrats. Nobody seems to think a deal can be struck in so short a period, but Trump won points with his base by threatening the mass arrests and again drove the news agenda.

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The Post’s take: “Three policy turnarounds by President Trump this month have underscored his freewheeling governing style, an approach that some experts warn sends mixed messages and puts U.S. national security at risk …

“The results of Trump’s strategy on policy have been mixed at best — and few issues offer as complete a picture of the president’s habitual brinkmanship as his effort to overhaul U.S. trade policy.”

Remember when Trump threatened to close the Mexican border? The Beltway went ballistic. He didn’t.

PELOSI SAYS ‘VIOLATION OF STATUS’ NOT A REASON TO DEPORT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

Then he threatened to slap tariffs on all Mexican products, beginning at 5 percent, if the country didn’t crack down on migrants fleeing Central America for the U.S. border. Lo and behold, Trump got a last-minute agreement. It’s hard to judge how concrete these steps are, and The New York Times said most of them had been previously agreed to, but the perception — or perhaps the reality — is that he got Mexico to move.

Trump even used the tough-talk tactics against Canada before finally hammering out a trade deal. Whether the tariffs imposed on China ultimately lead to an agreement is another question.

The point is that while Trump’s approach horrifies the traditionalists, he rarely carries out the well-publicized threats.

I see a link between the zig-zagging negotiating style and the repeated failures of Trump’s vetting operation. Rather than wait for full-fledged inquiries and background checks, the president announces who he wants to nominate — and often has to pull back.

That was painfully on display when acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan had to withdraw over a violent family past that would have made clear he would be impossible to confirm. The same was true when the president had to drop his planned nominees to the Fed, Herman Cain and Steve Moore.

Axios obtained nearly 100 Trump transition vetting documents that clearly show the RNC and others were overwhelmed in trying to check on potential nominees. The documents show that ethical and management questions were raised about Scott Pruitt and Tom Price, who later had to resign their posts at EPA and HHS.

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As president, Trump has far more resources available to vet nominees, yet still rushes to name them before any real investigation.

This president isn’t going to win any awards for a tidy management process. But when it comes to military action and trade talks, he sometimes wins ugly.

Westlake Legal Group TrumpGettyIMagesJoeRaedle Winning ugly? Media hit Trump style over Iran, but sometimes it works Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/executive/economic-policy fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 57db892f-407d-58bb-80b6-66bbd07e2ad5   Westlake Legal Group TrumpGettyIMagesJoeRaedle Winning ugly? Media hit Trump style over Iran, but sometimes it works Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/executive/economic-policy fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 57db892f-407d-58bb-80b6-66bbd07e2ad5

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Why Biden hit a raw racial nerve on segregationist senators

Westlake Legal Group joe-biden-AP Why Biden hit a raw racial nerve on segregationist senators Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 3cc36e18-4111-53ec-9af2-2609efdd9301

Out of all the senators he worked with over three and a half decades on the Hill, Joe Biden had to pick two ardent defenders of segregation?

Seriously, could he be more tone-deaf?

We all understand the point that Biden was trying to make when he invoked his good relations with James Eastland and Herman Talmadge. He was saying he can work with anyone. He was saying he’s a dealmaker. He was saying he can restore the era of bipartisan cooperation.

HOLDER CHIDES BIDEN ON SEGREGATIONIST-SENATOR COMMENTS: ‘SHOULD HAVE USED BETTER EXAMPLES’

But all that was utterly drowned out by his choice of two long-dead Democrats. Eastland and Talmadge weren’t just opponents of integration, they were stone-cold racists. Biden wasn’t praising them, as some are suggesting, but he was fondly recalling the way they worked together back in the 1970s.

Oh, and it made it seem like Biden is living in the past. A good chunk of the country wasn’t alive in Eastland’s heyday.

What’s also disturbing are media reports that the former VP has told this story about Eastland before and that his staff had urged him to stop — suggesting, at the very least, a lack of discipline.

Equally strange, when Biden made the remarks at a New York fundraiser, was his observation that Eastland “never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son.'”

PELOSI, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS MEMBERS BACK BIDEN AMID SEGREGATIONIST SENATORS CONTROVERSY

Well, he’s white. Was that a joke?

Biden did note that Talmadge was “one of the meanest guys I ever knew.”

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What’s fueling the coverage are the attacks from Biden’s 2020 rivals — especially Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, as well as Bill de Blasio, who has an African-American wife.

Biden stood his ground when reporters asked about Booker’s demand that he apologize.

Apologize for what? Cory should apologize. He knows better. There’s not a racist bone in my body; I’ve been involved in civil rights my whole career. Period. Period. Period.”

That’s true. It’s also true that politics is about the future, not the past.

The media reaction has been mixed. Some pundits are really pounding him, including those who find Biden too moderate and predicted he would implode with blunders like this.

Others are giving him a pass, or saying he spoke inartfully, in ways they would not had a Republican said the same thing. (Back in 2002, then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott had to apologize after a firestorm when he praised segregationist Strom Thurmond and said if he had won his presidential bid, “we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.'”)

ARI FLEISCHER SAYS BIDEN ‘GETTING WHAT HE DESERVES’ IN SEGREGATIONIST SENATORS BACKLASH

For instance, Donna Brazile, the veteran Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor, told The Washington Post: “I am trying to figure out if I am more outraged or simply disappointed. He should apologize.”

But Whoopi Goldberg said on “The View”: “You have to work with people you don’t like … Listen, beat Biden in the debates, you know? If you can beat him, beat him. Don’t try to make him out a racist.”

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Nobody is saying Biden is a racist. But some are saying he is ham-handed and too intent on reliving ancient exploits in the Senate.

Since this is guaranteed to come up in next week’s debates, the Democratic front-runner is now facing his first real test.

Westlake Legal Group joe-biden-AP Why Biden hit a raw racial nerve on segregationist senators Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 3cc36e18-4111-53ec-9af2-2609efdd9301   Westlake Legal Group joe-biden-AP Why Biden hit a raw racial nerve on segregationist senators Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 3cc36e18-4111-53ec-9af2-2609efdd9301

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Déjà vu: Trump launches reelection bid with tough immigration talk

Westlake Legal Group Trumpfist Déjà vu: Trump launches reelection bid with tough immigration talk Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc e821cfc4-b822-5f3b-bd79-2e55e2162b88 article

As President Trump formally launched his reelection campaign yesterday, many media types reflected on how much he’s changed politics since riding down the golden Trump Tower escalator four years ago.

And there was another crucial similarity as well.

ICE TO REMOVE ‘MILLIONS OF ILLEGAL ALIENS’ IN US, TRUMP SAYS

The 2015 kickoff featured Trump saying that Mexico was sending us criminals and rapists, as well as some good people, striking a deep chord with what would become his base and infuriating those who felt he was demonizing illegal immigrants.

This time, the night before Tuesday’s Orlando rally, the president tweeted of a crackdown on immigrants. “ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” he said, adding that “they will be removed as fast as they come in.”

There’s no way that “millions” will be deported. But this is basically the same playbook from his entry into politics, and something that Trump has threatened to do before, warning in the past that sanctuary cities would be targeted. And just like the Trump Tower event, it is aimed squarely at his most fervent supporters — and, the media wiseguys would say, does nothing to expand his base of support.

Analysts look at the polls, the ones the president calls fake, and see that in head-to-head matchups Trump isn’t above 42 percent, even with a booming economy. Instead, he loses to Joe Biden by 10 points and several other Democrats by lesser margins. (Such surveys are ridiculously early, of course.)

FOX NEWS POLL: DEMOCRATS WANT A STEADY LEADER, BIDEN LEADS TRUMP BY 10 POINTS

And yet the president is convinced that the polls undercount his supporters and will turn out to be wrong, just like 2016.

A more interesting question is how much the election will turn on Trump himself, who dominates our media and political culture more than any of his predecessors, and in spectacularly divisive fashion.

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The New York Times says that November 2020 “is shaping up as a test — not just of the man but of his country. Was Mr. Trump’s victory the last time around a historical fluke or a genuine reflection of America in the modern age? Will the populist surge that lifted him to the White House run its course or will it further transform a nation and its capital in ways that will outlast his presidency? What kind of country do Americans really want at this point?”

After all, Democrats have consoled themselves by casting Trump’s election as almost an accident. The idea is that he squeaked into office as a popular-vote loser against Hillary’s badly flawed candidacy, with an assist from Jim Comey and Vladimir Putin. Biden has called his presidency an “aberration.”

BIDEN: DEMS MAY AS WELL ‘GO HOME’ IF THEY CAN’T WORK WITH REPUBLICANS

But what if that’s not true? What if Trump wins a second term? That’s more plausible, obviously, for an incumbent president than a celebrity businessman with no political experience. Who would his detractors blame then?

To be sure, Trump capitalized on deep discontent among many Americans unhappy with the culture, the economy and their sense of being ignored. That’s why some Obama voters switched to Trump, to blow up the system. It was a sense of alienation that most of the media and political elites failed to fully appreciate.

But has he further divided the country? Says the Times: “There is, of course, something of a chicken-or-the-egg quality to the debate over Mr. Trump — is he the cause of America’s polarization or the result?”

And has he transformed the Republican Party, or just turned it into a temporary vehicle of personal support?

Many Americans viewed Ronald Reagan’s 1980 win over a hobbled Jimmy Carter as a one-off — how could an actor be president? — until his landslide four years later.

AMID ATTACKS FROM RIVALS, BIDEN HOLDS TOP-DOLLAR FUNDRAISERS, HINTS AT $20M HAUL

In a similar fashion, some on the left deemed George W. Bush, another popular-vote loser, as an “illegitimate” president after the disputed Florida recount. But that was wiped away by his 2004 victory.

So what happens next year will affect whether Trump is ultimately viewed as a detour from politics as usual or the leader of a disruptive movement.

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Footnote: Trump plans to barrel his way into the coverage by live-tweeting next week’s Democratic debates, The Wall Street Journal says. That prompted MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough to urge all the networks not to report his tweets till the next morning: “Are they going to be manipulated by Donald Trump like we’ve all been manipulated for three years?”

But can you really stop the networks from reporting what is news?

Westlake Legal Group Trumpfist Déjà vu: Trump launches reelection bid with tough immigration talk Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc e821cfc4-b822-5f3b-bd79-2e55e2162b88 article   Westlake Legal Group Trumpfist Déjà vu: Trump launches reelection bid with tough immigration talk Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc e821cfc4-b822-5f3b-bd79-2e55e2162b88 article

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How much do polls showing Dems trouncing Trump really mean?

Westlake Legal Group Biden-Trump-AP-Getty How much do polls showing Dems trouncing Trump really mean? Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/elections/polls fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/pete-buttigieg fox-news/person/kamala-harris fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/cory-booker fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 6a4e07b8-1ffc-598f-aa1c-37b601edacef

The media, which are always enamored of polls, are really loving them right now.

That’s because they show President Trump getting his butt kicked.

And while the latest numbers certainly aren’t good for the president, I’m going to flash a giant yellow warning light here.

It’s early, as everyone knows, but the problems run deeper than that.

The pundits are agog over a new Quinnipiac University survey that shows Joe Biden clobbering Trump, 53 to 40 percent.

MARTHA MACCALLUM: NEW POLLING NUMBERS ARE A ‘BIG WAKE-UP CALL’ FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP

Not only that, but other Democrats beat Trump by lesser margins: Bernie Sanders (51 to 42 percent). Kamala Harris (49 to 41). Elizabeth Warren (49 to 42). Pete Buttigieg (47 to 42). Cory Booker (47 to 42).

The Q poll is widely respected, but here’s the thing:

If Joe or Bernie or Kamala or one of the others is up against Trump in November of 2020, he or she is not going to be seen by the public as the same person as during the current campaign spring training period.

The eventual nominee will have endured a year and a half of denunciations by Trump, his campaign, his allies, and his surrogates. That’s along with millions of dollars in negative advertising by pro-Trump and independent groups and constant attacks from conservatives in the media.

In short, the person on the ballot will be fairly battered and bloodied.

And the Republicans have no monopoly on this. The Obama camp, the Democrats and liberals in the media pounded Mitt Romney, long before he became the nominee, as a heartless executive, flip-flopper and goofball.

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Now by this logic, Trump will also be more scuffed up by the fall of 2020 than he is now. But that will be nothing new. He’s been pounded by the press and his opponents since the last campaign, and while he’ll have to defend his record, all the personal controversies — his business record, women, hush money — are pretty well known.

By contrast, no Democrat running, including Biden, has been through the searing scrutiny of running at the top of the ticket. So the race will tighten. Nobody is going to win by 13 points.

Meanwhile, Trump tried to push back hard on a New York Times piece which said: “After being briefed on a devastating 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win.”

Politico had reported earlier that the polling showed Biden ahead of Trump in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The president never explicitly denied the Times account. But when asked by a reporter yesterday, he said “there were some fake polls” put out by “the corrupt media … We have some internal polling, very little, and it’s very strong.”

WARNING SIGNS FOR TRUMP AS NEW POLL SHOWS BIDEN, OTHER DEMS WITH 2020 EDGE

Was he denying that the Fabrizio polls were “devastating”?

Or was he going after other surveys, such as the much-touted Quinnipiac poll? It wasn’t clear.

If it’s the latter, the university said that it stands by its numbers after 25 years of independent polling.

“We’re used to this,” Quinnipiac said. “Whoever is on the wrong side in a poll attacks the poll.”

Kellyanne Conway, a career pollster, offered some caveats yesterday.

“When the president says we have some of the best numbers we ever had,” the White House counselor said, “he means among Republicans and he also means among some of the individuals who voted for him last time.”

Obviously, it will take more than just winning Republicans for Trump to get to 270.

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Conway added that when “the president says he has the best numbers ever, he is also talking about the unemployment numbers, growth numbers, the optimism numbers.”

For all the back and forth, it’s clear that an incumbent president who’s not higher than 42 percent has his work cut out for him.

But the latest polls are more than ephemeral. They reflect a political landscape that may be radically changed once people start voting.

Westlake Legal Group Biden-Trump-AP-Getty How much do polls showing Dems trouncing Trump really mean? Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/elections/polls fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/pete-buttigieg fox-news/person/kamala-harris fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/cory-booker fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 6a4e07b8-1ffc-598f-aa1c-37b601edacef   Westlake Legal Group Biden-Trump-AP-Getty How much do polls showing Dems trouncing Trump really mean? Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/elections/polls fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/pete-buttigieg fox-news/person/kamala-harris fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/cory-booker fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc article 6a4e07b8-1ffc-598f-aa1c-37b601edacef

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Trump, Biden ‘eviscerate’ each other as press questions POTUS’ polls

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6047082662001_6047074907001-vs Trump, Biden 'eviscerate' each other as press questions POTUS' polls Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/entertainment/media fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc fc2c3f07-1642-5479-b34f-6e05449ad214 article

CNN had the “breaking news” banner headline up for hours on its morning news show:

BIDEN TO EVISCERATE TRUMP TODAY IN IOWA SPEECH.”

Does that sound like a balanced headline on “New Day”? Or does it sound like the show is saying the president is very much in need of eviscerating?

I harp on this because CNN promotes this as a news program, not an opinion show. I have no problem with playing up a speech leaked in advance by Joe Biden’s campaign (Fox and many others reported it as well). The CNN anchors and panelists didn’t say anything terribly biased. But that headline undercut them. Would the average viewer get the sense that CNN is subtly cheering Biden on?

WARNING SIGNS FOR TRUMP AS NEW POLL SHOWS BIDEN, OTHER DEMS WITH 2020 EDGE

Here’s how Axios handled the same leak: “Biden Hits Trump 76 Times in Iowa speech.” That’s a statement of fact. The story included such Biden applause lines as “I believe Trump is an existential threat to America.”

The media treated yesterday as a general-election preview because the president was also in Iowa. And the advance speech prompted Trump to do his own eviscerating at a press gaggle before leaving Washington.

“I think he’s the weakest mentally,” Trump said of Biden. “I like running against people who are weak mentally.” He called the former VP a “dummy” in terms of his approach to China.

The president also called him a “loser” and said that for Biden to mention him 76 times in a speech, “that means he’s in trouble.”

CNN CRITICIZED FOR CHYRON CLAIMING BIDEN WILL ‘EVISCERATE’ TRUMP IN SPEECH

And Trump not-so-subtly raised the age issue, saying Biden “looks different than he used to. He acts different than he used to. He’s even slower than he used to be.” Biden is 76, Trump is about to turn 73.

The New York Times, meanwhile, kicked off Trump’s day in Iowa with a behind-the-scenes story that raised questions about his veracity.

After the president’s pollster, Tony Fabrizio, briefed him on a “devastasting” 17-state survey, Trump “told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win, even though he is also trailing in public polls from key states like Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania. And when top-line details of the polling leaked, including numbers showing the president lagging in a cluster of critical Rust Belt states, Mr. Trump instructed aides to say publicly that other data showed him doing well.”

At the helicopter gaggle, Trump said only, “My poll numbers are great.”

A CNN reporter earlier asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders whether the president told his aides to deny that internal polling showed him trailing Biden.

She deflected the question more than once, saying, “Look, I think the polling got it completely wrong in 2016, I don’t think it’s right now.”

Another passage from the NYT story: Trump “rarely if ever speaks to aides about what he hopes to accomplish with what would be a hard-won second term; his interest is entirely in the present, and mostly on the crisis of the moment. He has shown no interest in formulating a new message for his campaign, instead continuing with the winning “Make America Great Again” slogan from his last race and adding that he also wants to ‘keep America great.’”

Hey, the guy was elected despite all the polls and all the odds, so it’s little surprise that he trusts his instincts. He devises his message hour by hour. Nor is it a shock that he lives in the moment.

RACHEL MADDOW TO HELP MODERATE FIRST DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY DEBATE

As for Biden, all three cable news networks took his Iowa speech, delivered in a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone. He called Trump a “threat to our core values,” a “threat to our standing in the world” and a “genuine threat to American democracy.” He declared that “this is really dangerous stuff” and that “four years of Donald Trump will be viewed as an aberration in American history and around the world.”

On one level, it’s just another day of sparring, but it benefits both men. Trump, apparently convinced that he’ll be facing Biden, wants to rough him up during the primaries. Biden, who still has to win Iowa and a whole bunch of other states, wants to foster the notion that it’s him against Donald and the other 23 candidates are irrelevant.

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Footnote:  NBC announced its moderators for the back-to-back debates at the end of June: Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, Chuck Todd, Jose Diaz-Balart and…Rachel Maddow.

Maddow, a Rhodes scholar, is a smart woman and talented broadcaster, but she’s a fierce partisan who despises Trump, has pounded away at the Mueller probe for two years and conducts friendly interviews with Democratic candidates. Yet virtually no one in the press is questioning her selection.

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Didn’t the DNC ban Fox from the debates on grounds that the network wouldn’t be fair? If Fox was hosting a Republican debate with several journalists plus, say, Sean Hannity or Lou Dobbs, there would be a media uproar.

But because it’s a popular figure on the left, nobody raises an eyebrow.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6047082662001_6047074907001-vs Trump, Biden 'eviscerate' each other as press questions POTUS' polls Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/entertainment/media fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc fc2c3f07-1642-5479-b34f-6e05449ad214 article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6047082662001_6047074907001-vs Trump, Biden 'eviscerate' each other as press questions POTUS' polls Howard Kurtz fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/entertainment/media fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/politics fnc fc2c3f07-1642-5479-b34f-6e05449ad214 article

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