Editor’s Blog

Very Bad News. But For Who?

What now looks likely to be a plea deal agreed to by Rick Gates is a very big deal. What’s not clear yet is who it’s a big deal for. Read More

Facebook Still Lying About Its Role in the 2016 Election

I flagged this on Twitter before President Trump started flogging it. But I’m not at all surprised that he did. Because, somewhat to my surprise, it revealed that Facebook seems still to be committed to lying, albeit now more artfully, about its role in the 2016 election and more broadly as a channel of choice for propaganda and misinformation. Read More

Quite the Photo

This is quite the photo. (Click the headline of this post to see full sized image.)

Dan Scavino (L), White House Director of Social Media, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (2nd L), Johnny DeStefano (2nd R), Director of the Office of Presidential Personnel, and Keith Kellogg (R), Chief of Staff of the National Security Council. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Mueller Playing It So Damn Close To The Vest

The other indictment from Special Counsel Robert Mueller today was also a surprise. A plea agreement had already been reached, and a plea entered in federal court in DC. That all happened earlier this week. Not a peep.

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High Drama

It’s worth noting the remarkable stagecraft involved in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, acting attorney general for the Russia probe, deciding to announce today’s indictments (watch the whole thing here).

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It’s Big

In case you’re wondering, I’m slowly making my way through the indictment itself.

Our team is moving more quickly here.

Numeracy, School Massacres and the Nature of Terrorism
on February 15, 2018 in Parkland, Florida.

A few months back I got into a minor public spat about the failings of so-called “data journalism.” I erred to the extent that I spoke loosely about data journalism in general as opposed to misuses of it or sloppy and lazy uses of it, which the example I noted clearly amounted to. One might generally describe this abuse of the form as clever people using numbers to lecture people about elements of human experience the clever lecturing people either don’t understand or think their cleverness gives them a pass on trying to understand. One element of that example was a study that showed that mass shootings account for only a very tiny subset of the total number of deaths in this country from firearms every year. This is true (probably obvious to almost all of us if we give it some thought) and also largely beside the point. Read More

Of Course the President Obstructed Justice
U.S. President Donald J. Trump hosts a law enforcement roundtable on MS-13 at The White House in Washington, DC, February  06, 2018. Credit: Chris Kleponis / Polaris

This isn’t new news, not a new revelation. But with more and more voluminous information coming in daily, it is worth revisiting the point. Whether or not the President obstructed justice recently isn’t a factual question. That one is 100% clear. It’s really a legal and constitutional one.

Here’s what I mean. Read More

What We’re Watching: Feb. 16, 2018 Prime Badge
Our Collective Impotence Feeds the Power of Guns
Thousands of members of the media mix with Republican delegates, demonstrators, street preachers, corporate donors,  police from several states, and anyone seeking the glare of the television lights during the Republican Convention in Cleveland Ohio. The Republican Party officially nominated Donald Trump as their candidate for president. Gin rights activists taunt Al Sharpton who is across the street.

We’ve discussed it many times. Most of us realize it: one of the great ironies, and perhaps tragedies of the “gun control” debate is that it has been backed into such limited and incremental policy prescriptions that those prescriptions can be reasonably derided by “gun rights” advocates as barely worth the trouble or hardly of any use. We know that no one restriction would prevent every needless tragedy. But together, a number of them, interweaving and compounding each other, would prevent or limit many massacres and bloodbaths. More importantly, this whole logic is not one we apply to any other problem of criminality or public health. Our entire counter-terrorism policy is based on no silver bullets but a series of traversable but still consequential obstacles, the aim of which is to disrupt, make more complicated or reveal conspiracies. We have collectively made it mainly too difficult to hatch plots to commandeer airliners or even effectively communicate to plan major operations at all. So radicals are reduced to largely ineffectual (but still often deadly) DIY kitchenware based bombs and trucks. That’s a good thing. Read More

The ‘Quintessentially American’ Story of the AR-15

Following the devastating shooting yesterday in Parkland, Florida, we wanted to re-run Reed Richardson’s thoughtful deep dive into the history of the AR-15 (Prime access), the weapon that was allegedly used to kill 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and wound 14 more. Richardson details the gun’s origins in the early days of the Vietnam War, and traces its history as it becomes a favorite among American gun enthusiasts — and perpetrators of mass shootings. Read More

What We’re Watching: Feb. 15, 2018 Prime Badge
And The Winner Is: The Rob Porter Scandal

I’d have lost an office pool on which scandal would finally rouse the GOP Congress to do some oversight of the Trump administration.

What We’re Watching: Feb. 14, 2018 Prime Badge
Who Will Rid Me of This Meddlesome Stormy? The Michael Cohen Story

As you may have seen last night, Michael Cohen, President Trump’s purported longtime personal lawyer, conceded that he did pay adult actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 just before the 2016 election. But there’s a catch. It was his money! Or so Cohen says. Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign reimbursed him. “I am Mr. Trump’s longtime special counsel and I have proudly served in that role for more than a decade,” said Cohen in a statement released yesterday. “In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford. Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump … Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly. The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.” Read More

The GOP Fake News Trend

It turns out the Maine GOP got into the Nunes fake GOP news site racket even before Devin Nunes did. Check out our story.

Login Update

Some Prime members are continuing to have issues logging into the site. We are aware of the issue and working as rapidly as we can to solve it. We made one fix today which has minimized but not fixed the problem. Our team worked late into the evening tonight on a permanent fix and will be back at it in the morning. Please know: We are aware of the issue. This is affecting a small number of readers and a smaller number after this evening. But if it’s affecting you I know it’s very annoying. Fixing it is our top priority. I will continue to update you here in the Editors’ Blog. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

The Klan to Hannity Hate Pipeline

Only hours ago a gaggle of white supremacist on the 4Chan message board site were spinning up conspiracy theories about “secret sperm” in the Obama portrait unveiled yesterday. A short time later Sean Hannity had embraced the claim and was spreading the word on Twitter.

Only The Best

When the domestic violence history that top White House staffers already knew about went public Rob Porter was on the cusp of getting a big promotion.

They’re Not Even Good At Lying

We’re going to bring you some more details about this shortly. But the White House’s position on the Porter background check was that it was an on-going process, so in key ways out of their hands. FBI Director Christopher Wray just confirmed that that is not true – that the check was mainly completed last year and that the file was officially closed in January, before any of the scandal broke. Here’s Dana Bash explaining.

As Bash notes, it was on the calendar that Wray would be testifying in a public setting. So all but certain he’d be asked about this and presumably wouldn’t lie, in an easily impeachable fashion, on their behalf.

Health Care Policy Developments

Here’s installment #3 of our weekly Sum Up on state and national health care policy developments. We are now publishing weekly health policy Sum Ups on Tuesdays. We publish week Sum Ups on Voting Rights and Democracy on Mondays and the Russia Probe on Fridays.

What We’re Watching: Feb. 13, 2018 Prime Badge
Through the Looking Glass

In recent weeks we have seen a flurry of Fox News hothouse scandals which blow up for a day before collapsing under the weight of their own ridiculousness. Last week we had the story about how President Obama supposedly wanted to hear all the information about the Clinton emails investigation before it was clear that the date of the text in question made it clear it was about the Russia probe. Now we have some related but demonstrating a different tendency. Read More

Weekly Sum-Up on Voting Rights and Democracy

Here is the debut edition of our weekly Sum-Up on Voting Rights and Democracy. (What’s a Sum-Up? Here’s our explanation.)

What We’re Watching: Feb. 12, 2018 Prime Badge
Rob Porter Is the Illumination Flare of Trumpist Rot

At the outset of the Rob Porter scandal, I was baffled by the way this scandal seemed to be hamstringing and damaging the White House in ways few others have. This is not to say the Porter story isn’t bad enough. It’s plenty bad. It’s egregiously bad. But this President has had a lot of scandals that are egregiously bad. Set aside for the moment that there is every reason to believe that the President himself is a chronic sexual predator – a fact that now seems more or less accepted as part of the political firmament. This is a President who literally stood up for Nazis against anti-Nazi protestors. There’s a lot of competition for bad. Individual wrongdoing should largely be centered on the person in question. It doesn’t naturally attach to their coworkers or employers. But from the start, in this case, everyone around Rob Porter seemed compromised by his offenses – and not in random ways. His story, this ignored and covered up offense, has managed to expose and highlight all the failings of the President and his coterie – not simply their indifference to racism or gender violence but interwoven factors like indifference to the rule of law and personal loyalty to leader as the highest, indeed singular, value. Read More

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