NEWS AND OPINION:
It is a farewell address to be reckoned with. President Obama steps before a huge audience in Chicago on Tuesday night to deliver a formal goodbye to the nation, delivered in 360-degree video and broadcast live in prime time by all major networks. Tickets to the free event at McCormick Place - the nation’s largest convention center - were handed out three days ago. 7,000 hopeful people showed up in single-digit temperatures; many walked away disappointed after hour in the bitter cold. Since then, the coveted tickets are being resold for $5,000 each on Craigslist and eBay according to multiple news reports, prompting consumer warnings and a scam alert from the local Better Business Bureau.
One ticket holder who booked a room at a nearby hotel and waited outside the event center door for over 21 hours was taken aback by the phenomenon.
“I’ve been to rock concerts where there was more security to make sure precious tickets weren’t resold,” John Holden told the Chicago Tribune. “That’s a little discouraging. I don’t think the president would like to see this turn into a money-making opportunity.”
Good deeds still surfaced, however. After a call went out from a local youth group, at least five lucky recipients donated their tickets to teens who hoped to attend the event.
Meanwhile, there likely will be much emotion on stage and in the crowd as Mr. Obama reviews his years in office, contemplates his future legacy, thanks his fans and faults his foes. But the president is not done yet.
“This a major moment as we prepare for what’s ahead. What we do now determines how we’ll rebuild and reimagine our party, and how we will fight back against any efforts to undermine the work that we have done together,” Mr. Obama notes in a new public advisory. “I hope you’ll remember that progress isn’t always a straight line. We will have to work harder now, more so than ever before, to keep our country from moving in what we know is the wrong direction.”
Not much of a farewell.
The news media appears poised to go with him, however. CNN is first out of the gate with “The End: Last Days of the Obama White House,” a new film that premieres before a select audience in the nation’s capital on Tuesday night, hosted by CNN anchorman Jake Tapper and the National Archives and Records Administration.
CNN will broadcast the two-hour film for the rest of the nation on Wednesday. It will likely sadden liberals, vex conservatives and confound independents. There could be melodrama too. Producers say they will offer “heartbreak and history,” plus “exclusive access to key White House figures during the extraordinary period after the election, as they prepare to hand over the White House to the incoming Trump administration.” Hm. Well, OK. Airtime is 9 p.m. EST.
FOR THE LEXICON
That’s the name for a website launched by Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor — two former Obama speechwriters and one Obama spokesman — who vow to supply a “no bull [expletive] conversation about politics,” primarily through podcasts.
“Cable news panels, you may have noticed, are not the best. Twitter is a great place to slowly lose your mind. Everywhere, the work of excellent journalists competes with clickbait, fake news, and whatever Donald Trump is tweeting about,” the trio note in their mission statement.
“Crooked media,” of course, is President-elect Donald’s Trump‘s favorite pet name for the mainstream press.
A SON-IN-LAW, SIMPLY PUT
“Jared has been a tremendous asset and trusted adviser throughout the campaign and transition, and I am proud to have him in a key leadership role in my administration. He has been incredibly successful, in both business and now politics. He will be an invaluable member of my team as I set and execute an ambitious agenda, putting the American people first,” President-elect Donald Trump noted after naming his son-in-law Jared Kushner as his senior adviser on Monday.
“It is an honor to serve our country,” Mr. Kushner noted in reply.
‘THE YEAR WE FOUGHT BACK’
In a new report, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael T. McCaul says that “the terror threat environment” worsened in 2016 and that 74 Islamic State-linked plots against the U.S. and its allies were uncovered last year — more than the total for 2014 and 2015 combined.
“What’s clearer than ever is that Islamist terror has been franchised to thousands of followers, who are using everything from sophisticated explosives to their own cars to attack innocent people,” says the Texas Republican. “That is why our New Year’s resolution must be to go on the offensive — to protect our people, our values and our way of life. If 2016 was remembered as a ‘year of terror,’ then 2017 should be remembered as the year we fought back.”
From Ad Age analyst George Slefo comes a list of the niftiest gadgets that have debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. They are:
Kuri (a 20-inch service robot that keeps pets company); Razer Project Valerie (a portable laptop with three fold-out screens); LG Oled TV (oversize-TV panel that is “thin as a credit card”); Sensorwake Oria (alarm clock that wakes sleepers with scented oil aroma); Spartan Smart Underwear (men’s undergarment that protects their manly areas from smartphone radiation); Hover Cameria Passport (drone with video camera that automatically follows users below); and Prophix by Onvi (electric toothbrush with built-in camera for teeth close-ups).
Very promising news for Jesse Watters, newly minted Fox News host of “Watters’ World,” which debuted Saturday. According to Nielsen Media Research, Mr. Watters drew 1.8 million viewers, easily besting the combined totals of both CNN (616,000) and MSNBC (392,000) in the same time slot.
Fellow host Tucker Carlson, meanwhile, debuted his new prime-time show Monday night with the help of guests Martha McCallum, Glenn Beck and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. The audience numbers will likely be very good for Mr. Carlson. Like Mr. Watters, his audience drew more than those of CNN and MSNBC combined, typically hovering around 2.8 million.
POLL DU JOUR
• 71 percent of active-duty military troops say the U.S. military needs more personnel.
• 51 percent of active-duty troops have an unfavorable opinion of President Obama; 52 percent of enlisted personnel and 48 percent of officers agree.
• 60 percent of personnel in Marine Corps, 53 percent of Army, 49 percent of Air Force and 46 percent of Navy also agree.
• 59 percent overall say the troop drawdown from Iraq made the U.S. less safe; 54 percent say the same of the Afghanistan drawdown.
• 58 percent say more reliance on special forces have made the U.S. safer.
• 41 percent overall say “transgender service” has hurt military readiness; 30 percent say the same of “gender integration in combat units.”
Source: A Military Times/IVMF survey of 1,664 active-duty tops conducted Dec. 16-20 and released Monday.
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