Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

I have mentioned several times in recent days my anxiety about the election less than two weeks from now, one that is caused less by my sense of the likely outcome than the gravity of the stakes involved. This morning, as authorities are still finding new bombs sent to a growing list of Trump targets, President Trump went on Twitter not only to blame the media for the climate of anger and violence but to issue what can, in the climate of the bomb scares, only be deemed a threat. “It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”

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It’s part of the human condition that anger builds on itself and leads, sometimes, to violence. But so much of the public dialog at the moment returns to this concept of ‘civility’. You’ve got pro- and anti-civility folks. You’ve got critiques of ‘civility’ as the wrapper into which we package hierarchy and deference. Characterologically, for better or worse, I tend to be pro-civility. I don’t really like seeing people accosted or shouted at in restaurants. But I think we can settle on a simpler point. Civility has relatively little to do with political violence or the kind of totalizing and dehumanizing political rhetoric and action that spawns it.

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The pipe bomb sent to CNN has on it a mock ISIS flag that is part of an Internet meme that has been prevalent on far-right sites and message boards since 2014. This NBC News story explains the backstory. It started on a rightwing parody run by a guy who’s a frequent commentator on Breitbart and The Daily Caller and got kicked off Twitter in 2017. Not exactly surprising. Just another bit of confirmation that the bomber is someone from the pro-Trump, 4Chan, alt-right hate world.

The Hollywood Reporter reports tonight that CAA, the Hollywood mega-agency, has dropped Megyn Kelly as a client. Normally this isn’t the sort of news we’d take much notice of. But it’s a good barometer of the degree to which she’s quickly become radioactive in the entertainment and quasi-news world after her blackface comments. NBC News Chief Andy Lack blasted her in a NBC News staff town hall today. They are apparently already negotiating the end of her morning show, which – critically – simply hasn’t done very well.

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I’ve added some new names to my Twitter list of polling and election data experts. If you’re interested you can subscribe to it here.

We’re now getting an overall view of the range of targets who were sent explosive devices. We also have a list of false alarms. (John Light has a quick rundown here.) The gist is the Clintons, Obamas, George Soros, Eric Holder, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Maxine Waters and John Brennan. Brennan’s was actually the name on the device sent to CNN’s offices in New York. The common denominator here is pretty clear. These are not only Democrats or people generally on the left. In Brennan’s case he’s not really clearly either. These are all high profile targets of President Trump and relatedly nemeses of your standard Trumpite media outlets like Breitbart and The Daily Caller.

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Is there a need to state the obvious? People in positions of great power shouldn’t engage in rhetoric of incitement or targeted demonization.

We’re covering breaking developments in today’s bomb scare news here.

Pilots know that in a storm or in any instruments-only flying situation you watch your instruments rather than your perceptions or your gut. Your perceptions are frequently wrong and following them can lead to catastrophe. In elections, our instruments are the data, a mixture of polls, early voting, fundraising. These can’t predict the future. But they are the best evidence we have.

This has been rattling through my mind as I read and listen to the news this morning. To listen to it the election has taken a dramatic turn in the Republicans’ direction. The AP writes: “In the closing stretch of the 2018 campaign, the question is no longer the size of the Democratic wave. It’s whether there will be a wave at all.” A few moments ago I heard one of morning TV’s top political talk hosts press a Democratic talking head over a new poll showing that with just two weeks to go it’s a dead heat in the most competitive battleground districts.

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The news that Rudy Giuliani is headlining a pro-Putin oligarch-funded conference in Armenia today made me think again of something that occurred to me yesterday when I was writing about the Turks, the Saudis and the Trump family: in a phrase, oligarch international relations.

In this case I don’t only mean Russian oligarchs. I mean oligarchs as they exist in many countries. Let’s define them as extremely rich individuals whose wealth either originated with or requires the continued assistance or forbearance of the government in power. With the Giuliani story, to a degree, Rudy’s just slimy. But I do think there’s lots of this stuff going on behind the scenes that we’re not hearing about. With the Rudy story, a source put me on to it. It’s not the hugest deal in itself. But I don’t think there’s been any other mention of it in the US press. I am pretty sure it’s just the tip of the iceberg of Russian and post-Soviet money ties to Trump and people in the Trump entourage.

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