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On the roster: The biggest media bias - Manchin, Morrisey gear up for bruising battle - Trump: Ohio Dem gubernatorial nominee a ‘socialist’ - Midterms claim first House incumbent - What a bunch of cornholes
THE BIGGEST MEDIA BIAS
It was surprising to see some folks describing the results of the West Virginia Republican senatorial primary as an upset. But we can certainly understand why they did.
If you watched the coverage of that race for the past six weeks it would have been almost impossible not to think that former coal executive Don Blankenship wasn’t the prohibitive frontrunner.
Every story, every hot take and every piece of analysis seemed obsessed with Blankenship, giving his two main rivals scant attention.
When Attorney General Patrick Morrisey pulled out a decisive win, it might not have been the expected outcome to many, but it was in keeping with all of the reliable public polling on the race.
Republican readers here may be permitting themselves a self-satisfied chuckle knowing that, yet again, their party was the victim of journalistic bias.
Now, we will allow that some reporters wanted Blankenship to win based on the same reasoning behind Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s hope that Blankenship would lose. Some newsmen and newswomen would have enjoyed putting the screws to Republicans in other Senate races, asking them about whatever the most recent outrage from Blankenship was.
But don’t forget that the fundamental, inherent bias in American journalism is not political. It is the desire for conflict and copy.
For evidence look across the Ohio River to the Buckeye State Democratic gubernatorial primary. Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich got lavish coverage for what turned out to be a fizzle of a fight with former Attorney General Richard Cordray. But that one, like the West Virginia race, fit the existing trope: Civil war, outsider vs. insider and populist insurgency. We even heard Cordray, an ultra-liberal pitchfork populist, referred to as “moderate” and “establishment.” This is where journalists are stretching too hard to get a too-short blanket over the toes of their narrative.
None of this is to say that Blankenship or Kucinich are not fascinating creatures worthy of extensive coverage. Nor is it to say that the political press should discount the chances of underdogs.
Certainly Blankenship did well for himself in the Fox News Channel debate in his contest, and we do not doubt that his numbers got a boost in the immediate aftermath. Nor do we doubt that President Trump’s stated opposition to Blankenship cut into the underdog’s momentum.
But when partisans placed internal polling that showed Blankenship not just bouncing but soaring to the top, it proved irresistible for reporters who are still hooked on that 2016 feeling. They may not have known how to write about Trump when he was running for president, but they are getting very good about writing about him when he’s not running, even if the facts don’t entirely support the thesis.
Trump is president today because he understands the way members of the political press operate. They love to talk about themselves, so Trump baits them with attacks like his tweet today threatening to revoke credentials for those who write unflattering stories about him. He knows they like to cover feuds, so he always has a dozen or so in various stages of grievance articulation.
And he certainly knows they love good copy, which is how he managed to get roadblock coverage for otherwise unimportant campaign rallies. If they weren’t such good TV and so bizarre to cover, Trump’s events would have been treated like the snooze fests of his opponents.
Our advice is to not get sucked in too easily by over-hyped narratives, internal polls and breathless speculation while we move through primary season.
Trust reliable surveys, but only up to a point. Listen to reliable voices, but even then maintain a healthy sense of skepticism. And most of all, think for yourself.
THE RULEBOOK: STAY STRAIGHT
“What has not America lost by her want of character with foreign nations; and how many errors and follies would she not have avoided, if the justice and propriety of her measures had, in every instance, been previously tried by the light in which they would probably appear to the unbiased part of mankind?” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 63
TIME OUT: HEY, MAMA
History: “On this day in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issues a presidential proclamation that officially establishes the first national Mother’s Day holiday to celebrate America’s mothers. The idea for a ‘Mother’s Day’ is credited … to Anna Jarvis (1907), who both suggested a holiday dedicated to a day of peace. Many individual states celebrated Mother’s Day by 1911, but it was not until Wilson lobbied Congress in 1914 that Mother’s Day was officially set on the second Sunday of every May. In his first Mother’s Day proclamation, Wilson stated that the holiday offered a chance to ‘[publicly express] our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.’ In 2002, President George W. Bush echoed Wilson’s sentiments by acknowledging mothers in his official statement on Mother’s Day in 2002. He commended foster mothers as well as his own ‘fabulous mother’ for their ‘love and sacrifice.’”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 41.2 percent
Average disapproval: 53.6 percent
Net Score: -12.4 points
Change from one week ago: down 1.8 points
[Average includes: CBS News: 40% approve - 55% disapprove; CNN: 44% approve - 51% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve - 52% disapprove; IBD: 38% approve - 56% disapprove; Pew Research Center: 42% approve - 54% disapprove.]
Control of House
Republican average: 40.8 percent
Democratic average: 47.8 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 7 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage up one point
[Average includes: CBS News: 50% Dems - 41% GOP; Pew Research Center: 48% Dems - 43% GOP; Monmouth University: 49% Dems - 41% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 48% Dems - 40% GOP; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% Dems - 39% GOP.]
MANCHIN, MORRISEY GEAR UP FOR BRUISING BATTLE
West Virginia MetroNews: “West Virginia’s Republican nominee, Patrick Morrisey, has been claiming for months to be the only viable candidate to beat incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democratic political powerhouse. Now he gets his chance. … ‘I always thought Patrick might have an edge, and the reason is he had two statewide races under his belt and a little bit more identification, if you will. I’ve done enough statewide races to realize that.’ Both Manchin and Morrisey are well-funded and well-known. Each has won multiple statewide races. And each has controversial connections with the pharmaceutical industry. Morrisey is a former lobbyist for the prescription drug industry whose campaigns have been funded by those same companies. Manchin has been connected with Mylan Pharmaceuticals and its EpiPen controversy through his daughter, Heather Bresch, who runs the company.”
Manchin announces support for Haspel - The Hill: “Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on Wednesday that he will vote for CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. Manchin is the first Democrat to come out in support of Haspel, bolstering her chances of being confirmed despite engrained opposition from progressive senators and allied outside groups. ‘I have found Gina Haspel to be a person of great character. Over her 33 year career as a CIA operations officer, she has worked in some of the most dangerous corners of our world and I have the utmost respect for the sacrifices she has made for our country,’ Manchin said in a statement.”
Donnelly squirmy on tax cut repeal - USA Today: “The day before President Trump comes to Indiana to tout the GOP tax plan – and to launch Republicans’ [in support of new nominee Mike Braun’s] effort to knock of Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly– the Democrat incumbent was eager to talk taxes. But only up to a point. Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Donnelly had plenty of criticisms about the tax package that passed in December with no support from Democrats. But when asked if the tax cuts should be repealed, Donnelly demurred. ‘That’s not even on my radar,’ he said. That’s the question, however, that Republicans will try to force Donnelly to answer over the next six months.”
It’s populist against populist in Ohio Senate race - Cincinnati Enquirer: “Ohio’s U. S. Senate race will test what happens when a Trump-emulating populist Republican faces off against a Democrat already regarded as a populist. Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Waverly, beat Cleveland-area banker Mike Gibbons Tuesday evening in the GOP primary. … Renacci will face a tougher challenge in the coming months as he tries to oust incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. Both Renacci and Brown have different populist styles. Renacci’s mirrors Trump’s maverick businessman and outsider image, even though he’s been a congressman since 2011. Renacci released campaign videos of him riding around the state on a motorcycle. He emphasizes his past as a business owner, where he said he made a fortune selling cars and running nursing homes. … For Brown, his breezy, conversational-style of campaigning and down-to-earth persona punctuated with his gravelly voice has allowed him to stay in the Senate since 2007.”
TRUMP: OHIO DEM GUBERNATORIAL NOMINEE A ‘SOCIALIST’
The Hill: “President Trump on Wednesday slammed former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as a ‘socialist’ who ‘should not do well’ in Ohio’s gubernatorial election this November. ‘Congratulations to Mike Dewine on his big win in the Great State of Ohio. He will be a great Governor with a heavy focus on HealthCare and Jobs,’ the president wrote on Twitter, referring to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who won the Republican primary for governor Tuesday. ‘His Socialist opponent in November should not do well, a big failure in last job!’ Trump added, referring to Cordray. Cordray is also DeWine’s predecessor, having served as Ohio’s attorney general before heading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for nearly six years. Cordray left the agency in November to run for governor in a move that set up a fight over who would serve as his successor in leading the CFPB.”
MIDTERMS CLAIM FIRST HOUSE INCUMBENT
Charlotte Observer: “Former Charlotte pastor Mark Harris defeated Rep. Robert Pittenger in Tuesday’s primary in North Carolina’s 9th District, making him the first incumbent in the country to lose this year. ‘I’ve called Mark Harris, I’ve conceded the race and I wish him the best,’ Pittenger told supporters at what was expected to be a victory party. Harris said, ‘I invite the congressman and his supporters to join our journey as we focus on keeping the 9th District red in November, ensuring the hard-working people of the 9th District have a congressman who is focused on representing them and their values ...’ Meanwhile, Dan McCready easily beat Christian Cano in the Democratic primary. Though analysts say the district leans Republican, it’s expected to be one of the two most competitive in North Carolina this fall with the 13th District, where Democrat Kathy Manning won a primary to face GOP incumbent Ted Budd. Both races could help determine which party controls Congress.”
Establishment beats Freedom Caucus candidate in Ohio House race - Politico: “State Sen. Troy Balderson won the Republican primaries in the special and regular elections in former Rep. Pat Tiberi’s old district. Balderson had 29.2 percent of the vote to 28.2 percent for Melanie Leneghan when the Associated Press called the race with 100 percent of precincts reporting. Balderson won the regular primary by a similar margin over Leneghan. Balderson’s slim victory follows a contentious Republican proxy battle over the seat, which pit former House colleagues against each other in the latest in a series of mainstream-versus-outsider Republican primary battles. Tiberi, who backed Balderson, dipped into his own campaign account to support the state senator, airing TV ads to boost him. But Rep. Jim Jordan, the House Freedom Caucus co-founder, backed Leneghan and cut a competing TV ad for her that aired with help from conservative megadonor Richard Uihlein.”
Pence’s brother likely to get a House seat - Indy Star: “Greg Pence was a step closer to achieving his goal of following in his little brother’s footsteps Tuesday. Pence, the older brother of Vice President Mike Pence and the owner of two antique malls, clinched the Republican nomination to the 6th Congressional District, a seat once held by his brother. With 96 percent of the precincts reporting. Pence had 47,955 votes to Jonathan Lamb’s 17,523. His more famous brother congratulated him over Twitter Tuesday night. ‘He’s making Hoosiers & the Pence family proud. Good luck in November!’ Mike Pence tweeted. Greg Pence, a marine veteran and otherwise lifelong resident of the 6th District, ran on the slogan that was he was ‘ready to serve again.’”
Liberal House super PAC draws donors’ ire for leader’s lavish salary -McClatchy: “A new Democratic group – one with support from Democratic congressmen and three of the biggest names in the tech industry – is testing the boundary between a new approach to politics and a self-enriching scam. When the People’s House Project launched last May, founder Krystal Ball billed it as an organization that would defy old conventions and show Democrats a new model for winning campaigns. The former MSNBC host said her political action committee would support longshot candidates who embraced economic populism and lacked a political background – the kind of office-seekers who normally don’t receive support from party leaders. But thus far, nobody has benefited more financially from the group than Ball herself. Of the $445,000 Ball raised for the group, she paid herself more than a third of that – $174,000 – in salary, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. The majority of her salary – $104,000 – came in the first three months of this year alone.”
Poll finds both parties face challenges ahead of Election Day - CBS News: “Six months before Election Day, the 2018 midterms look like a contest that’s up for grabs -- both for control of Congress, and for which arguments will dominate the campaign. More voters say they’d prefer to see Democrats take control of Congress than for Republicans to keep it, but voters also say Democrats must still explain what they’d do if elected -- and it isn’t enough for Democrats to just say they’re different from Republicans. Each party faces a balancing act as they head through primary season. Republican voters want candidates who would support the president’s agenda – but independents and voters overall do not. Voters don’t want candidates who would go so far as to try impeaching the president– yet most Democratic voters do prefer candidates who’d back that idea.”
TRUMP’S TROUBLES WITH COHEN GET DEEPER
LAT: “The shell company used by President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen to pay off porn actress Stormy Daniels received about $500,000 last year from a business linked to a Russian billionaire who is close to President Vladimir Putin. Cohen’s company, Essential Consultants LLC, received the money from a U.S. offshoot of the business empire of Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. The payment from Columbus Nova LLC came to light in a seven-page report by Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti… The document disclosed a wide array of previously secret payments that Cohen received last year from companies with an interest in Trump administration business. … Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant, paid Cohen’s company nearly $400,000; AT&T, $200,000; and Korea Aerospace Industries LTD, $150,000. Novartis often seeks drug approvals from federal regulators, AT&T is fighting a Justice Department lawsuit to block its proposed merger with Time Warner, and Korea Aerospace Industries is a defense contractor.
AT&T confirms - Axios: “AT&T late Tuesday confirmed that it had contracted a corporation tied to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and his alleged payment to adult entertainer Stormy Daniels. AT&T is currently locked in a court battle with the Trump Justice Department, which sued to block its proposed $85 billion merger of Time Warner a month before AT&T says it ended the relationship with the Cohen LLC.”
Marc Short says no August recess unless appropriations, nominations get done - Roll Call
Senate Intel release report on election security - WaPo
Pa. GOP Rep. Charlie Dent’s last day will be Friday - Roll Call
Moderate members of House GOP try to force vote on DREAMers - Politico
Cliff Sims, Trump campaign veteran, leaving WH comms team -Politico
Following NY AG Eric Schneiderman’s resignation two House Dems eye his seat - Roll Call
AUDIBLE: FEAR THE TURTLE
“I’m glad the people of West Virginia decided that particular approach of attacking me and my family was good for a distant third place.” – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, referring to former coal exec Don Blankenship, today on the Daily Briefing with Dana Perino.
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WHAT A BUNCH OF CORNHOLES
CBS Sports: “The Georgia heat makes people do crazy things. One of those things, apparently, is fighting over cornhole. In Douglas County, an Atlanta suburb, the Chamber of Commerce was putting on its seventh annual fundraiser to benefit high school students in the county. Where it messed up was setting a $500 prize. That was apparently too much for people to keep their cool over. A brawl broke out on the cornhole grounds, and punches were thrown. … Without a doubt, the best part of this cell-phone video is the woman over the loudspeaker announcing that she will turn this tournament around. ‘IT IS A CORNHOLE TOURNAMENT FUNDRAISER. CUT THE CRAP.’ The hero that captured the video, Alex Cannon, who was at the tournament, said that the debate was over scoring discrepancies.”
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.