Headlong into the mud

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**

On the roster: Headlong into the mud - Trump promises police reforms, but narrowly - Senate GOP hurries to produce policing bill - Trump to accept re-nomination in Jacksonville - First Atlantis and now this...

If the ads you see when you consume entertainment or news these days seem like political spots it’s not just because we are enduring tender times or that we are doing so in a very testy election year. 

You know the ones. After 20 sends of buzzword gibberish over some meaningful-sounding music you get the almost-but-not-quite plug from a narrator who sounds like Cliff Robertson or Cicely Tyson.

“Family is home. Home is essential. Essential is all of us. Us is togetherness. Togetherness is family… Whatever happens – whether you are happy and healthy or are murdered for your delicious brains by zombies – here at Uncle Slappy’s Pest Control, we’re always on your side.”

It’s partly a result of how ads are sold. Ad makers have to look a couple of weeks into the future when they start production and guess what the national mood might be. And as we’ve all learned, two-week guesses haven’t been anybody’s strong suit lately. The default is to just make something neutral seeming and avoid the hard sell when doing so might seem crass.

And while uncertain times do produce a lot of touchy-feels spots, it’s also that a lot of the people who are making the ads to convince you to buy their client’s gewgaws and gimcracks are the same people who previously sold you candidates.

They may even go back-and-forth. The people who sold you Bill Clinton’s “bridge to the 21st century” may now be overseeing campaigns hawking remote meeting apps. They might end up selling you Joe Biden’s malarkey against monochromatic pictures of human majesty and misery. 

The people who sold you the Iraq surge may now be selling you mobile banking solutions. They might end up selling you that we must transition to greatness in order to briefly MAGA again (MAGAA?) before we can finally KAG. 

Minor key piano notes. Pullback shots on historic pictures. Stirring voices with a little vibrato thrown in during post-production. Maybe a celebrity’s familiar cadence. It seems rough enough to be viral but well enough produced to reduce concerns about sharing a fake video. Faces in close up framing.

As we get closer to the election, you will see more and more attack ads, which are different in tone than these chintzy efforts at inspiration. But you know them just as well.

The audible curl of the lip in the announcer’s voice. The three-word quote from a news outlet edited as tendentiously as a Zagat review posted in a greasy spoon; “the pizza … was … delicious.” And most of all, the pungent odor of urgent fear. This lying liar is going to destroy America and it will be your fault if you let it happen.

And you know why they do what they do. They do it because it works.

Appeals to emotion are far easier than those to reason, and fear is perhaps the most powerful – the most visceral – of them all. And it is hardly new that campaigns would seek to appeal to your heart instead of your head.

“Hope” wasn’t exactly the Federalist Papers and the Willie Horton spot couldn’t have been mistaken for a Lincoln-Douglas debate. With limited time and, until recent years, limited resources, campaigns had no qualms about dumbing it down and going for the gut.

Anything we could do to stop this flummery from clogging our airwaves, inboxes and video streams would probably be worse than the problem itself. Limiting the speech of political candidates is treacherous territory indeed.

Like much of what ails America today, the work belongs to the people. It will be up to Americans to remember that this cheap demagoguery is worthy neither of the problems we face nor the offices to which its practitioners aspire.

We can refuse to be scared. We can refuse to be angry. We can refuse to hate. We can do all that without the assistance of online fact checkers or government censors because if we take just a moment to consider it, we know those things are unworthy of our heritage.

James Madison said that a well-educated citizenry was the best defense against the “crafty and dangerous encroachments on the public liberty.” And Lord, are we are sorely in need of those gifts now.

We don’t care how you vote. That’s your business. But our plea to you is that as you pass through these next 144 days of fetid acrimony, phony outrages and glandular melodrama you do so protecting your heart for the good things it was made to do.

Use your head instead.

“It must needs be that this people, so jealous of their liberties, have, in all the preceding models of the constitutions which they have established, inserted the most precise and rigid precautions on this point, the omission of which, in the new plan, has given birth to all this apprehension and clamor.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 24

USA Today: “June 12 is Loving Day, a celebration marking the day the Supreme Court struck down state bans against interracial marriage. The day is named for the monumental case, Loving v. Virginia, and the interracial couple at its center, Richard and Mildred Loving. The 1967 Supreme Court decision struck down 16 state bans on interracial marriage as unconstitutional. ‘Over the long haul, it changes America,’ said Peter Wallenstein, author of ‘Race, Sex, and the Freedom to Marry: Loving v. Virginia.’ ‘It’s just a stunning case.’ In the five decades since the decision, interracial marriage has increased dramatically. In 2015, one in six newlyweds had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity which is more than five times higher than the number of intermarried newlyweds in 1967, according to Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. … [Designer KenTanabe said the name is ‘not just a reference to a real couple who fought racial injustice, it also represents the love that we give to each other.’”

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

Trump: 41.8 percent 
Biden: 50.2 percent 
Size of lead: Biden by 8.4 points
Change from one week ago: First week of average
[Average includes: CNN: Trump 41% - Biden 55%; NBC News/WSJ: Trump 42% - Biden 49%; NPR/PBS/Marist: Trump 43% - Biden 50%; IBD: Trump 42% - Biden 49%; Monmouth University: Trump 41% - Biden 52%.]

(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (103 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15)
Lean R/Likely R: (186 electoral votes) 
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)
[Full rankings here.]

Average approval: 40.6 percent
Average disapproval: 55 percent
Net Score: -14.4 points
Change from one week ago: ↓ 2.4 points
[Average includes: CNN: 40% approve - 57% disapprove; NPR/PBS: 42% approve - 55% disapprove; IBD: 42% approve - 52% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approve - 57% disapprove; CBS News: 40% approve - 54% disapprove.]

You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. It’ll be the same behind-the-scenes look at your favorite political note, only from their remote locations during this unprecedented time. Click here to sign up and watch!

NYT: “President Trump offered only a vague policy response on Thursday to the killing of George Floyd, saying he would sign an executive order encouraging better practices by police departments while rejecting more far-reaching proposals to tackle racial injustice and police brutality in the United States. … Mr. Trump strongly defended law enforcement agencies and made clear he had little interest in broader legislation being debated in Congress. At a round-table discussion he convened in a Dallas church before hosting a campaign fund-raiser, the president derided activists calling for defunding or dismantling police departments. ‘Instead, we have to go the opposite way,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘We must invest more energy and resources in police training and recruiting and community engagement. We have to respect our police — we have to take care of our police.’ … Mr. Trump was more explicit in what he would not back than what he would, beyond repeating his support for expanding economic development, investing in medical facilities and encouraging school choice in minority communities.”

Trump holds his tongue on rebuke from top general - Fox News: “President Trump, in an extensive interview with Fox News, said he's ‘fine’ with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley's move to express regret for accompanying the president during a photo op last week at Lafayette Square -- while defending his own actions that day. The president also weighed in more broadly on the nationwide unrest following the death of George Floyd in police custody, while calling out Seattle officials for their handling of protesters who have taken over several city blocks. ‘I will tell you, if they don't straighten that situation out, we're going to straighten it out,’ Trump said. Speaking to ‘Outnumbered Overtime’ host Harris Faulkner, the president responded to implicit criticism from Milley and other military figures over the handling of his visit to St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House last week, after part of the church had been set on fire the night before.”

Says Tulsa rally will be a ‘celebration’ - USA Today: “President Donald Trump said in an interview that aired Friday that his decision to hold a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma – the site of a horrific 1921 attack on African Americans, on the holiday marking the end of U.S. slavery – was not deliberate.  Fox News host Harris Faulkner asked Trump whether he chose the location and date on purpose, to which the president said ‘no,’ even though his campaign has trumpeted the Juneteenth holiday when asked about its timing. ‘Think about it as a celebration. My rally is a celebration. In the history of politics, I think I can say there's never been any group or any person that's had rallies like I do,’ Trump said. ‘I go and I just say, give me the biggest stadium and we fill it up every time. We've never had a vacancy.’”

Trump thought he was quoting race-baiting Philly mayor about shooting looters - WaPo: “…Faulkner shifted the conversation to Trump’s tweets. … ‘And the tweets, ‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts,’’ she continued, referencing Trump’s widely criticized response to the Minneapolis protests last month, which many interpreted to be a racist threat of violence. After Faulkner’s history lesson about Trump’s turn of phrase, which she told the president had ‘frightened a lot of people,’ Trump continued to insist that he had heard former Philadelphia mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo say something similar. ‘He had an expression like that,’ Trump said, referring to Rizzo as ‘a very tough mayor.’ … Rizzo, who died in 1991, earned a reputation at the time as being tough on crime, but has long been criticized for his treatment of Philadelphia’s black and gay communities.”

Drops 10 points in Gallup poll since May - Gallup: “President Donald Trump's job approval rating has fallen to 39% amid nationwide protests about racial injustice. His ratings this year had been the best of his presidency but are now back near his term average of 40%. The latest reading is from a May 28-June 4 poll, conducted as protests occurred throughout the country after the May 25 death of George Floyd. … The poll was completed before the news Friday about an unexpected drop in the unemployment rate. The decline in approval returns the metric to a level last seen in October, shortly after the House of Representatives launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump's dealings with the Ukraine government. Trump's latest job approval rating fell significantly among all party groups, and by similar margins among each. This includes drops of seven percentage points among Republicans (to 85%) and independents (to 39%), and nine points among Democrats (to 5%). Republicans' approval of Trump is the lowest it has been since September 2018 (also 85%).”

AP: “Venturing into a new priority, Senate Republicans are quickly compiling a package of policing changes after George Floyd’s death that would create a national database of use-of-force incidents, encourage police body cameras and include a long-stalled effort to make lynching a federal hate crime. The burst of political energy reflects how swiftly the national conversation over police and racial injustice is upturning business as usual in Washington. The emerging GOP bill doesn’t go as far as a sweeping new Democratic package, but it includes several similar provisions. What’s unclear is if President Donald Trump will back any of the proposed changes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose home state of Kentucky faces unrest over the police shooting of Breonna Taylor, indicated Thursday the legislation would be ready soon. ‘The killing of black Americans like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have accelerated important conversations,’ McConnell said as he opened the Senate.”

Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants - Politico: “Sen. Rand Paul introduced legislation Thursday to stop the use of no-knock warrants, an idea that Democrats are also pushing in their calls for police reform. The Kentucky Republican’s bill, titled the Justice for Breonna Taylor Act, requires federal law enforcement officers to give notice of their authority and purpose before entering a home. The law would also apply to state and local law enforcement agencies that receive money from the Justice Department. The legislation comes after Taylor, a 26-year-old African American woman, was shot and killed in her home in Louisville by police who had a no-knock warrant. ‘After talking with Breonna Taylor’s family, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s long past time to get rid of no-knock warrants,’ Paul said in a statement. ‘This bill will effectively end no-knock raids in the United States.’ Paul’s legislation comes as both parties eye a range of police reform proposals, amid a national reckoning with police brutality since the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.”

House Republicans find common ground with Dems - Roll Call: “House Republicans are in the process of crafting policing legislation that focuses on three pillars: performance, transparency and accountability, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Thursday. Part of the effort will be led by Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, including ranking member Jim Jordan and others who met Thursday with Sen. Tim Scott, the South Carolina Republican who is leading the charge on law enforcement legislation in his chamber. ‘We agree on a lot of things ... moving in the right direction,’ Scott told reporters after the meeting. Scott also said the text of the Senate GOP policing bill is being finalized tonight and tomorrow and should be ready for release Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest.”

AP: “Jacksonville, Florida, has been selected to host the celebration marking President Donald Trump’s acceptance of his party’s nomination for reelection, the Republican National Committee chairwoman said Thursday. Ronna McDaniel made the announcement a day after saying that Jacksonville was a front-runner to hold the event. … McDaniel said the event would be held at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, which holds 15,000 people. She said more details would be released in the coming weeks. The party’s more mundane business, including discussions over the platform, will still be held in Charlotte because of contractual obligations. The RNC had spent the last week scouting locations after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper rejected Trump’s demand that the convention be allowed to take place Aug. 24-27 without social distancing measures.”

Work of convention will remain in Charlotte under social distancing rules - Fox News: “Two days after the Republican National Committee (RNC) moved to not update the GOP’s platform from the 2016 convention, President Trump tweeted that he prefers ‘a new and updated Platform.’ ‘The Republican Party has not yet voted on a Platform,’ the president tweeted on Friday morning. ‘No rush. I prefer a new and updated Platform, short form, if possible.’ The RNC’s executive committee voted on Wednesday night not to make changes to the 2016 Republican convention platform. The committee also moved to dramatically scale back the 2020 convention's business aspects, which are still going to be held in Charlotte, N.C., despite the party moving a big chunk of the event elsewhere. The committee voted to limit the in-person participation in Charlotte to just 336 delegates, far fewer than the more than 2,500 who would normally attend.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer: “Joe Biden stopped at the Enterprise Center in West Philadelphia on Thursday to debut an eight-part plan for safely reopening the country. ‘Trump has had a one-point plan — open businesses. Just open them,’ Biden said. ‘It does nothing to keep workers safe and keep businesses able to stay open. And secondly, it’s done very little to generate consumer confidence.’ Biden, who has gradually started increasing in-person campaign events recently after the coronavirus shut down campaigning in mid-March, talked with Della Clark, president of the Enterprise Center, which helps support minority-owned businesses; U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Pa.); and two women affected economically by health restrictions. … Biden discussed aspects of his eight-part plan to reopen, which includes directing the federal government to provide and pay for regular testing for workers called back to work. It also suggests ensuring workers have access to personal protective equipment and extending federal paid leave to workers who get sick from COVID-19, as well as those caring for family members with the virus.”

Biden, a longtime champion of police, struggles with his loyalties - ABC News: “In 2002, then-Senator Joe Biden wrote an op-ed for the Delaware State News, reacting to an FBI report that the national crime rate was on the rise for the first time in 10 years. Biden cautioned while crime was down in his home state, the country needed to stay alert to the rising rate. … Eighteen years later, Biden is now the presumptive Democratic nominee, mounting his third run for the presidency in the midst of a nationwide discussion on systemic racism, and urgent calls for extensive reforms to policing following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. While Biden has called this ‘one of those great inflection points in American history,’ his record on criminal justice, and more than two decades of calls for increasing the number of police on the street are getting a second look, putting his past positions at odds with the conclusions of even some allies.”

Ratchets up his rhetoric - AP: “Joe Biden is adopting an increasingly aggressive stance as he looks to break out of a monthslong campaign freeze imposed by the coronavirus outbreak. Over the course of 24 hours, the presumptive Democratic nominee sharpened his rhetoric against President Donald Trump, warning he could try to steal the election. His campaign organized a petition pressing Facebook to boost its efforts to prevent the spread of misinformation. And he released a plan to restart an economy slammed by the coronavirus in a way that he says won’t make Americans choose between their health and livelihoods. The quick succession of developments signals Biden’s growing desire to become more assertive. He’s betting that he can build momentum by offering a contrast to Trump’s leadership as the country is gripped by the pandemic, economic turmoil and unrest stemming from racial injustice and police brutality.”

Politico: “A small universe of Republican Party activists will drive through the parking lot of a central Virginia church on Saturday to decide the fate of Rep. Denver Riggleman. A one-term congressman with a libertarian streak, Riggleman has found himself locked in a fierce intraparty battle after he enraged local officials in his district by officiating a same-sex marriage last year. His reelection prospects are further hampered by Virginia’s insular election system, which allows a paltry number of GOP delegates to choose the nominee at a convention. By Sunday morning, he may become the third House incumbent to fall in the 2020 cycle. Riggleman’s opponent, former Campbell County supervisor and Liberty University employee Bob Good, is running as a staunch social conservative. He’s campaigning on his belief in a traditional view of marriage, ending birthright citizenship and opposing abortion for any reason — even if the mother’s life is in danger.”

Solicitor general to resign - Reuters

Hoyer outlines busy schedule for House after policing legislation - Roll Call

We are free, Mr. President.” – Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner to President Trump after Trump said it was “questionable” whether Abraham Lincoln had done more for black Americans than Trump because of “the end result” of Lincoln’s presidency.

Tune in this weekend as Mr. Sunday sits down with HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif. and infectious disease epidemiologist Michael Osterholm. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.

“I have to agree with Dana on ‘emu’ with full long ‘u,’ but loved that story! And, please, as election nears, Tuberville is a short ‘u.’ Like a tub. Like the guy who said he’d leave Ole Miss in a pine box, shortly before the helicopter to Auburn landed. Alabama deserves him.” – Mary Carol Miller, Greenwood, Miss.

[Ed. note: Oh, doc, I’m in biiiiiiiiig trouble next week. You and Dana are right about the toity sounding “ē-myü” pronunciation instead of my hickish “ē-moo.” Given her track record on “ruh-coon” I was overconfident and allowed myself to mock my friend. I may need you to administer first aid after the beating I will deservedly receive on Wednesday.]

“One of the underlying thoughts our Founding Fathers had in mind was to frame our Constitution in such a manner to allow us, as Citizens, to choose our individual (& collective) paths forward.  If you subscribe to that, then, can you offer some thoughts on why, now decades & centuries later, we are moving to erase history by renaming parks, military bases, buildings and such that were originally named for individuals who followed their beliefs & chose their path forward…but ended up not prevailing? I understand the age-old conundrum regarding the Civil War… was it about the right to own slaves or was it about a State’s right to secede from the Union. But what I don’t understand is why, historically, we once saw fit to honor famous persons who chose their way and now, decades & even centuries later, we see the need to remove that honor. Cases in point…Ft Bragg, Maury & Buchanan Halls at the Naval Academy, Fort Benning, Fort Hood, etc. Can you offer your thoughts on why some in our Nation seem to feel the need to do this?” – Rick Randell, Bradenton, Fla.

[Ed. note: Well, first I’d say that “we” needs a little definition here, Mr. Randell. Is the “we” the citizens of Richmond, Va. who have grown tired of looking at a 20-foot-tall monument to the ignominious career of Jefferson Davis? Is the “we” a gang of ignorant rioters who defaced a statue of abolitionist Matthias Baldwin in Philadelphia, calling him a “colonizer” and “murderer?” Is it the leadership of the U.S. military weighing the effects on unit cohesion and readiness of either keeping or changing the names of 10 facilities named for Confederate leaders? I’m not part of any such “we,” nor is my job here to pass judgement on the policies people prefer. But I would say though: Things change. Democrats once celebrated Thomas Jefferson, but now his admirers are largely on the other side of the aisle. Republicans once lionized Alexander Hamilton, but now it is Democrats who embrace him the most. The history didn’t change, but the parties did. As you navigate questions about America’s legacy from slavery, remember that these ideas have never been fixed ones. Some of the monuments coming down now were erected in the Jim Crow South not so much to honor the individuals but rather to assert the new social order of the region. It was an act of defiance and pride a half-century after the war by a re-established, newly wealthy elite following many decades of shame and hardship. They were elevated middle fingers pointed both north and to the descendants of slaves who would have to walk among them every day -- symbols of both defiance and oppression. Richmond in 1870 wouldn’t have been interested in or capable of honoring the catastrophic presidency of Davis, a Mississippian who fled their city ahead of Union forces and would for the next month try to keep the war going, even after Virginian Robert E. Lee had surrendered. But by 1911, Davis’ legacy looked different to affluent white Southerners who had fallen very much in love with the idea of the “Lost Cause.” This was the era of “The Birth of a Nation” and the rise of the second, bourgeois incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan. The monuments looked different 57 years after that when black residents rebelled against the order established by those Davis admirers two generations prior and threw firebombs down on Broad Street. The monuments looked different a generation after that when Virginia became the first state to elect an African American governor since Reconstruction with Douglas Wilder and a statue of tennis legend Arthur Ashe joined the ranks of those honored with memorials. And I am sure that now, another generation later, they seem different still. But I am not a Richmonder. And as a West Virginian, I am most assuredly not in a position to tell Virginians what they should or should not do. Our breakup was final in 1863. They should do whatever they like. It’s their city and it's their money -- or as you put it, they are “individuals who followed their beliefs & chose their path forward.” And as for the “age old conundrum” about the cause of the Civil War, the cause was the secession by slave states in order to perpetuate slavery. Individuals on both sides may have fought for very different reasons, but secession was the cause. Some may think the slave states were right to secede, and they’re free to do so. I’m sticking with Lincoln on this one, though.]

“Thanks for mentioning this issue but please ‘finish’ the story by correctly identifying the inept local players who actually control voting in the two Atlanta area counties as ultra-liberal democrats. Those Democrats were the ones who closed voting places and recruited the inept staff and failed to ensure voting machines were working. And they failed to have competent repair staff on hand and failed to order sufficient paper ballots on hand. Most counties had almost no issues and voting went well. Please clarify that Democrat controlled locals with corrupt liberals in charge are the nexus for voter problems and fraud. You know it but will you report the truth?” –Mike Connolly, Fort White, Fla.

[Ed. note: Is your point here to make sure that people with whom you disagree politically get more blame for bad things? Based on your contemptuous descriptions of others, I can only assume that’s where you’re coming from. And if that is so, I am sorry you have to live that way. I am sure that we can find lots of blame for why Georgia had a screwed up primary election this week. I’m sure that from the secretary of state down to the precinct captains we could find things could have been done differently. But if your response is to seek political advantage from problems, what chance do you have to solve anything? Accountability is important in public service. But what we’re going to get in Georgia will not be accountability, but an effort by people in positions of public trust to cast blame on others. The secretary of state will not take responsibility for what his office could have done better, nor will leaders in DeKalb and Fulton counties own up to shortcomings on their ends. They will trade accusations in voices as angry as your line about “corrupt liberals” or as one county official claimed the secretary of state’s “attack on the democratic process.” Both sides will feel superior, but no one will feel happy. And no one will be adult enough to solve the problem.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

AP: “A Florida city known for its mermaid shows now sleeps with the fishes. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Tuesday dissolving the city of Weeki Wachee. The city located about 50 miles north of Tampa was founded in 1966 to help put the Weeki Wachee mermaid attraction at a state park onto maps and road signs, according to the Tampa Bay Times. But with only 13 residents, the city was insolvent and offered no visible services to a small business community paying its taxes.”

“Congress is hardly the most finely honed instrument for making decisions of this kind. On the question of contra aid, Congress has returned answers, consecutively, of yes, yes, no, a bit, and -- last year -- yes again.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on June 24, 2001.

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.