- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2018

CNN’s recent town hall on guns in America was a tense broadcast event that sparked controversy and ignored industry ethics meant to preserve decorum and fairness on the airwaves. Things change. The two-hour program boldly breached barriers between entertainment, news and reality TV. But it also garnered big ratings for CNN, attracting an audience of 3 million — about three times the number of viewers the network would typically attract during that time period.  That means CNN — which has consistently lagged third in the ratings race behind Fox News and MSNBC — will likely produce more of these broadcasts. Ironically, CNN got support from a rival for its display of force.

“I don’t know how you go through a night like last night and don’t find yourself profoundly changed on this issue and willing to bend, whether it costs you or not politically,” a tearful MSNBC morning host Mika Brzezinski said in the immediate aftermath.

Meanwhile, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch — who appeared on the town hall and was deemed a “murderer” by some members of the live audience — had some advice for the host network.

“Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media. Notice I said ‘crying white mothers’ because there are thousands of grieving black mothers in Chicago every weekend, and you don’t see town halls for them, do you? Where’s the CNN town hall for Chicago? Where’s the CNN town hall for sanctuary cities?” said Ms. Loesch, posing her question at the Conservative Political Action Conference, currently underway just outside the nation’s capital.

“I had to have a security detail to get out,” Ms. Loesch said. “There were people rushing the stage and screaming ‘burn her.’ And I came there to talk solutions and I still am going to continue that conversation on solutions as the NRA has been doing since before I was alive.”

AND NOW A BIT OF HISTORY

CNN — the Cable News Network — was the first 24-hour news network. It went on the air at exactly 5 p.m. EST on June 1, 1980, founded by Ted Turner, who had this to say when his new network went live: “We won’t be signing off until the world ends. We’ll be on, we’ll be covering it live, and that will be our last, last event. We’ll play the national anthem for one time on the first of June, and that’s all. When the end of the world comes, we’ll play ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ before we sign off,” Mr. Turner told the audience.

HOWARD’S FINDING

Fox News media watchdog Howard Kurtz took a closer look at a “telltale marking” on scribbled notes kept by former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal — who has claimed to have had a long-term relationship with President Trump. A report based on those notes was published by The New Yorker.

“Readers could easily get the impression, as many journalists have, that McDougal wrote these notes during what she describes as a consensual relationship that began in 2006. But that is not the case. A telltale marking on the entries, reproduced by the magazine, shows that McDougal wrote these pages either during or since the 2016 campaign — relying on memories that were at least a decade old,” writes Mr. Kurtz.

“The article does not present Karen McDougal’s written account as being made simultaneously with the events themselves,” a New Yorker spokesperson told Mr. Kurtz. “Furthermore, her written account is supported by additional sourcing and documentation referenced in the article. The article does not present Karen McDougal’s written account as being made simultaneously with the events themselves.”

“The magazine’s view is that the timing has no material impact on her credibility,” Mr. Kurtz said in his analysis, noting that the McDougal passages were written on a notebook marketed by fashion designer Izak Zenou — which was not available until March 2016.

THE PREPOSTEROUS FACTOR

Former federal judge Ken Starr — who served as independent counsel investigating then-President Bill Clinton in the 1990s — has weighed in on the indictments of 13 Russian nationals last week by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“Here’s the key point, the key takeaway. Russians with millions of dollars came in and tried to affect the election and sow discord going back to 2014. No collusion, even alleged. But these were spies who came in under false pretenses and bought ads. My own view? The idea that this affected the election is utterly preposterous,” Mr. Starr told Fox News. “I think it’s an insult to the American people, to say, ‘Oh, they voted because they saw some ad some St. Petersburg, Russia, outfit bought on Facebook.’ That is almost silly.”

THE VERY BUSY BERNIE

With talk of the 2020 presidential election in the air, it is not surprising that Sen. Bernard Sanders remains on the political stage. The Vermont independent and self-described democratic socialist will spend the weekend headlining five major rallies in Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan — three are stops on an ongoing “Repeal the Trump Tax Tour,” two are campaign events for congressional candidates, “We are hitting the road with Sen. Sanders to stand up to the billionaire class that is further rigging our economy. The Trump tax is nothing more than a looting of the middle class to line the pockets of wealthy corporations,” says organizer Nicole Gill, director of the outreach and a member of Not One Penny — an activist group allied with MoveOn.org and other organizations.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

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POLL DU JOUR

83 percent of U.S. banking executives credit the Trump administration with improving economic conditions in the country.

63 percent report an improvement of economic conditions in the last quarter.

51 percent say the recent tax reform has enabled them to “grow their company.”

40 percent will increase wages for employees, 29 percent will pay higher dividends.

27 percent credit the Obama administration for improving economic conditions in the country.

Source: A Promontory Interfinancial Network Bank Executive Business Outlook Survey of 370 bank CEOs, president and CFOs conducted Jan. 16-30 and released Thursday.

Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin

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