- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 31, 2017

For weeks, President Trump has condemned persistent leaks of sensitive information to the press, adding credence to the idea that a deep-seated “shadow government” has launched a coup against his administration. Mr. Trump is not alone in his disgust for the practice. The public does not approve of leak-happy culture in the federal government and elsewhere; the majority of Americans, in fact, equate the act with treason.

“When politics is the name of the game, one man’s treason is another man’s service to the nation,” says a new Rasmussen Reports survey that finds that 53 percent of all likely voters consider the leaking of classified information to the news media to be an act of treason. Thirty percent disagree, 18 percent are undecided. And of course there is partisan divide.

“While 73 percent of Republicans consider the leaking of classified information which plagues the Trump administration as treasonous, only half as many Democrats (36 percent) feel that way. Voters not affiliated with either major party agree by a 50 percent to 27 percent margin that the leaks are an act of treason,” the poll analysis noted.

FAREWELL, OMBUDSMAN

The New York Times has eliminated its much ballyhooed Public Editor position, a designated ombudsman who had responded to complaints about coverage since 2003, when The Times faced some serious credibility issues. The last day for current Public Editor Elizabeth Spayd is Friday. And her replacement?

“Our followers on social media and our readers across the internet have come together to collectively serve as a modern watchdog, more vigilant and forceful than one person could ever be. Our responsibility is to empower all of those watchdogs, and to listen to them, rather than to channel their voice through a single office,” explained publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. in a memo to the staff.

“No, New York Times! Not the public editor! Why, with trust in news organizations at an all-time low, would you cut the one position dedicated to holding your journalists to account in public?” asks Kelly McBride, a media ethicist with the Poynter Institute, a nonpartisan press research group.

HELP WANTED, 24/7

“The Rachel Maddow Show follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life — as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise. Join the Maddow team as a senior producer and be responsible for creating, producing and supervising segments for The Rachel Maddow Show,” reads a new NBC Universal Media employment ad.

Among the many requirements: “Must be on call 24 hours a day/7 days a week.”

RISE OF THE ‘CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRAT’

Let the micro-targeting begin. Democratic strategists already are trying to woo demographics that somehow escaped their notice in the presidential election. Lest we forget, the 2018 midterms now loom on the horizon. Simple numbers can be telling here, however. A new Economist/YouGov poll reveals just what variety of voter may be increasing in number.

Among Republican voters, 14 percent say they are “strong Republicans,” 11 percent “not very strong” and 8 percent “lean” toward the party. That puts 33 percent of the respondents in the GOP camp. Among Democrats, 19 percent are “strong Democrats,” 12 percent not so strong, 8 percent are leaners. Which places 39 percent in the Democratic camp. Another 19 percent are independents, with 9 percent who are not sure what the heck they are.

Now for the ideology: 20 percent of all voters are conservative, 12 percent “very” conservative — or 32 percent total. Fourteen percent say they are liberal, 11 percent very liberal, a total of 25 percent for the liberal side. Another 28 percent are moderate and 15 percent are unsure of their ideology.

Do all the math, and conservative Democrats appear to dominate the voter pool — an opportunity for GOP and Dems alike.

A PSYCHOLOGIST’s TAKE ON KATHY GRIFFIN

Fallout from Kathy Griffin’s use of a grisly image of President Trump to stage a mock beheading continues. Now a psychologist explains her possible motivation.

“Kathy Griffin has a history of being an edgy comedian,” says Frieda Birnbaum, a New York-based psychologist who has addressed issues such as election-related stress. “The photo shoot she did with a severed head of the president is generating a lot of negative attention because it is an implication of murder, and threats against elected officials are taken very seriously.

“One reason why celebrities may be verbally attacking President Trump is because they think it’s good for their ego and reputation,” Ms. Birnbaum says. “Meryl Streep got a standing ovation at the 2017 Oscars for attacking Trump at the Golden Globes in a speech. Celebrities who see their fellow peers getting praise for this activity are probably more inclined to do it themselves.

“Many celebrities thrive on public attention, even if it’s negative,” she says. “Attention can equal relevancy, and one of the fastest ways of getting attention is to say something outrageous about the president. Some celebrities simply cannot help themselves here.”

POLL DU JOUR

68 percent of Americans say religion is important in their life.

44 percent pray several times a day.

37 percent are Protestants; 21 percent say their faith is “nothing in particular,” 32 percent say they are evangelical Christians.

18 percent are Roman Catholics, 5 percent atheists, 5 percent agnostics, 4 percent “something else,” 3 percent Jewish and 3 percent Muslim.

27 percent never attend religious services, 24 percent attend at least once a week, 23 percent “seldom” attend, 22 percent go a few times a year.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted May 20-23.

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