- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 18, 2017

Forget fancy terms like “collusion.” Newt Gingrich has two words for charges by President Trump’s political foes and media critics who say his campaign was in contact with Russian officials during the 2016 election: “Russian baloney.”

Mr. Gingrich equated the accusations with lunchmeat during an appearance Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week,” advising host Martha Raddatz that Mr. Trump is “infuriated — and legitimately, in my judgment — by this whole Russian baloney.” Mr. Gingrich also framed said “baloney” as one of three strategic but unfounded charges against the president. Obstruction of justice and perjury are the other two, he noted.

“But let’s go back to what you just said, this Russian baloney. If people are involved in collusion with Russia, don’t you want to know about that?” asked Ms. Raddatz.

“There’s no evidence. I mean, first of all, if you want to investigate Russia, fine. How about Bill Clinton’s $500,000 speech? How about Podesta’s brother who is a registered agent for a Russia bank? How about the Iranian deal?” Mr. Gingrich fired back.

Yes, well. His reports are too complex to go into here. But trust that Mr. Gingrich has an informed perspective these days. He’s got a new book out titled “Understanding Trump,” currently ranked No. 1 in political books on Amazon and No. 11 among all books.

“Even today, months after Trump won the election and was sworn in as president, the news media still tries to cover him as if he were a normal politician, and his ideological opponents continue to be viciously dishonest. They are either clueless or lying. Ignore them,” Mr. Gingrich advises readers in his new work.

“America has never seen a candidate and a president like Trump. Many in the elite political class and the national media still simply do not — and cannot — grasp his methods. Since he announced his bid for presidency, Donald J. Trump has been misunderstood, underestimated and misrepresented,” the author continues. “Elites snubbed him, but his message resonated with normal Americans.”

A MILLION-DOLLAR SPECIAL INVESTIGATION?

It remains to be seen what White House critics hope to get out of the special investigation on the Russia matter. There’s some cost involved though.

“Special investigations and congressional investigations have been a standard part of the political process for more than a century. In the 1870s, Ulysses S. Grant [and] the Whiskey Ring scandal; more recently, there has been Richard Nixon and Watergate; Ronald Reagan and Iran-Contra; Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky; and Hillary Clinton and Benghazi,” writes Eliza Mills, a producer for Marketplace, which produces programming for 800 public radio stations nationwide.

“Investigations, whether they’re carried out by Congress, a special independent counsel or a panel of judges, cost money,” she says, noting that the Clinton investigation came to about $79 million and the Iran-Contra probe cost about $47 million.

“Because investigations don’t necessarily have deadlines, the bills can rack up quickly. There’s no clear way to predict how much money will be spent in advance — typically, the U.S. attorney general controls the purse strings for special counsel investigations and sets the parameters of the jurisdiction, appoints the investigator and even rejects findings. Congressional investigations typically don’t get special funding from Congress; instead, they are already part of the congressional budget. But they have a political and financial cost when other work has to be sidelined,” Ms. Mills says.

TRUMP BOLSTERS THE NEWS BUSINESS

The mainstream news media may not like President Trump, but the Trump era appears to be good for business.

An extensive new analysis from the Pew Research Center using industry data reveals that advertising revenue for the ABC, CBS and NBC weekday evening news programs was up 12 percent the first three quarters of 2016 compared with the same three quarters in 2015 — this according to estimates from Kantar Media.

The tally for these three quarters topped $420 million, the analysis found. The three networks also experienced “financial growth” for their morning news programs in the same period, which were up by 3 percent, reaching a very tidy $836 million.

In total, then, from January to September 2016 — prime election months — the “Big Three” networks made almost $1.3 billion on weekday morning and evening news shows alone. The figure does not include weekend news or Sunday talk shows.

‘LAST MAN STANDING’ MAY STILL STAND

In recent weeks multiple public petitions have urged ABC not to cancel “Last Man Standing,” a family comedy starring Tim Allen that touts conservative values. One of these petitions on Change.org drew close to a half-million signatures. Someone was paying attention, perhaps.

“CMT may come to the rescue,” claims The Hollywood Reporter. “The Viacom-owned network is in preliminary talks to revive the canceled Tim Allen comedy.”

The industry publication adds that CMT also revived “Nashville” after ABC canceled the country music drama.

ECONOMY WORRIES NOT QUITE SO ACUTE

“Americans’ concern about the economy lowest since Great Recession. Fewer than one in five (19 percent) U.S. adults now cite an economic issue as the most important problem facing the country, down slightly from 21 percent last month,” reports Gallup.

The pollster notes that economy-related concerns were cited by 17 percent back in July 2007, then shot up to 86 percent in late 2008 when the recession took hold.

POLL DU JOUR

83 percent of U.S. parents with teenage children stock up on food during the summer months.

75 percent of these parents don’t know how their teens “devour as much food as they do.”

75 percent of parents “run out of inspiration” on what to feed their teenage children.

66 percent say their teen children “raid the kitchen” at night.

58 percent say they have ordered takeout food when their teen refused to eat what was available at home.

57 percent say their teens are “quick to grumble” about what food is available.

Source: A OnePoll/Farm Rich survey of 2,000 U.S. parents of teens age 13-19 conducted throughout May and released Friday.

• Chatter and petty annoyances to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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