- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Veteran journalist and Fox News host Howard Kurtz has a new book arriving Monday from Regnery, a conservative publisher that counts President Trump, Michelle Malkin and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in its large stable of well-known authors. Mr. Kurtz’s new book — his sixth — is titled “Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War over the Truth. ” It already is generating many headlines, particularly among news organizations hoping it will be another Trump-bashing extravaganza.

“Kurtz’s new book is ‘Fire and Fury’ all over again,” predicts The Observer. Fortune proclaimed “Yet Another Tell-All About Trump’s White House Reveals Insider Secrets.”

The author himself, however, has offered a preview of his new book.

“These are not easy words for me to write. I am a lifelong journalist with ink in my veins. And for all my criticism of the media’s errors and excesses, I have always believed in the mission of aggressive reporting and holding politicians accountable. But the past two years have radicalized me. I am increasingly troubled by how many of my colleagues have decided to abandon any semblance of fairness out of a conviction that they must save the country from Trump,” Mr. Kurtz said in a excerpt published Tuesday by the Hollywood Reporter.

“I first got to know Donald Trump three decades ago and never made the blunder of underestimating him during the campaign. I saw all his weaknesses — the bluster, the bullying, the refusal to admit mistakes — but I also saw strengths that most of my colleagues missed, especially an ability to channel the anger of millions of voters who despise the press — including the old-guard conservative press — and other elite institutions,” the author wrote. “This is, at bottom, a battle over the truth. Who owns it, who controls it, who can sell their version to a polarized public that increasingly cannot agree on basic facts.”

Mr. Kurtz added: “What many journalists fail to grasp is that Trump’s supporters love his street talk and view the media critiques as nonsense driven by negativity. They don’t care if he makes mistakes.”

CALIFORNIANS WANT TO SECEDE FROM THEIR STATE

Without much fanfare, an interest group staged a recent press conference in Sacramento, California, to announce its intention to form its own state called New California, composed mostly of rural areas with a population of about 15 million. The heavily populated coastal areas would remain as California, which it describes as tyrannical and ungovernable, following “years of over taxation, regulation, and mono-party politics.”

The group predicts that New California will be the sixth largest state behind New York, and bigger than Illinois and Pennsylvania. It also says 25 to 27 seats in the House of Representatives will go to New California, with “old” California becoming the second most populous state in the U.S. behind Texas and ahead of Florida. The “old” state also would lose those seats in the House.

Such a “Calexit” idea is not new. Four years ago, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist collected signatures to split the Golden State into a half-dozen states.

It’s an idea that draws an interested but wary reaction from fellow citizens.

“The founders of ‘New California’ read their Declaration of Independence in a hopeful step toward eventual statehood. A quarter of Americans think sections of states should have the right to secede and form a new state,” says a new Rasmussen reports poll. “While nearly one-third thinks we’ll be seeing more states breaking up in the future, it doesn’t mean they think it will be good for the United States.”

The survey finds that 26 percent of Americans think sections of individual states have the right to secede and form a new state. Fifty-one percent disagree and don’t think states should have that right, while 23 percent are not sure.

OH, THAT ANNOYING CONGRESS

“Despite media hysteria during the recently-deceased government shutdown, the reality is the United States has had such political paralysis on average every 30 months for nearly a half-century, lasting on average seven days. Shutdowns, even these partial ones few people notice outside the D.C. company town, raise many questions: What exactly gets shut down? When isn’t the government shut down over a weekend? Why are these stalemates never solved for good? Will voters even remember this hiatus come November?” asks Andrew Malcolm, a McClatchy columnist.

“But here’s the real question: How did our federal governing officials on both sides slip so easily from doing what they were actually hired to do, namely govern? And instead spend so much time strategizing, maneuvering and posturing to avoid getting blamed for what they didn’t do when they should have? This is their job, for Chuck’s sake, their full-time job! Other workers can’t throw up their hands, ‘Oh, this is too hard.’” Mr. Malcolm observes. “These elected bumpkins are each getting paid a princely price of $174,000 (plus free gym, swell insurance, cheap food, etc.). That’s for about 133 workdays a year. That makes for a paycheck three-plus times larger than the average American’s annual pay for 240 workdays. Three times the money for about half the workdays. How does that work?”

A FACEBOOK MOMENT

Gary Briggs, who has spent the last four years as chief marketing officer for Facebook, has decided to leave his position and “get ready for the next chapter,” as he explained on his Facebook page.

So, what’s he going to do?

“I’m going to pursue some advisory work for a few companies and hopefully join a few boards. I’ll explore teaching a bit. We’re going to travel some and start to split our time in and out of the Bay Area and Seattle. And I plan to help the Democratic Party on some efforts leading up to the U.S. midterms this year through to 2020,” Mr. Briggs said.

POLL DU JOUR

76 percent of Americans are confident they can tell the difference between news and opinion; 72 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of independents and 81 percent of Democrats agree.

50 percent of Americans say they have enough news sources to “sort out the facts”; 31 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of independents and 72 percent of Democrats agree.

47 percent say there is “so much bias it is difficult to sort out”; 67 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 26 percent of Democrats agree.

20 percent are not confident they can tell the difference between news and opinion; 26 percent of Republicans, 22 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup/Knight Foundation poll of 19,196 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 4-Oct. 2 and released Tuesday.

Murmurs and asides to [email protected]


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