- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 7, 2018

“Love him or hate him, voters agree President Trump is charting the course for the country, and no one else is even close,” says a new Rasmussen Reports survey which finds that 42 percent of all likely voters believe the president “sets the agenda” in the nation’s capital, no matter what the squawking press may report.

And they report plenty, most of it hostile and speculative — whether it’s the daily “Impeach-o-Meter” at Slate.com or the latest titillating chatter about Mr. Trump’s mental fitness and tweet habits. Despite such coverage, the voting public sees Mr. Trump as being in charge.

“The GOP-led Congress is in distant second, with 19 percent who think it’s calling the shots. Thirteen percent say the national media is in charge. Only 8 percent feel the Democratic opposition is setting the agenda. Nearly as many (7 percent) think it’s ‘someone else,’ and 12 percent are undecided,” says the poll analysis.

The percentage is equal among Republicans and Democrats: 45 percent of voters in both parties say Mr. Trump is driving the bus. Thirty five percent of independents agree, along with 38 percent of women and 46 percent of men.

“Fifty-three percent of voters who strongly approve of the job Trump is doing believe he is setting the national agenda. Even among those who strongly disapprove of the president’s job performance, 42 percent say he’s in charge,” the poll reports.

AND ABOUT THAT FAKE NEWS

This is getting serious. President Trump has revealed he plans to bestow his Fake News Awards on Wednesday — naming those news organizations which ignore positive developments in the Trump administration while consistently producing flamboyant, official-looking reports which may or may not be rooted in reality.

“The interest in, and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone would have anticipated!” Mr. Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon.

NOT FIT TO BE SEEN

No more talking heads on the treadmill. Life Time Athletics, a national fitness chain with 128 locations in the U.S. and Canada, has banned cable news channels from its in-gym entertainment offerings. CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and Fox News are no longer part of the mix.

“The decision to remove the national cable network news stations results from significant member feedback received over time and our commitment to provide family oriented environments free of consistently negative or politically charged content,” said the Minnesota-based organization in an explanation. “We believe this change is consistent with the desires of overall membership as well as our healthy way of life philosophy.”

The overall public may not agree, however. TV Newser, an influential broadcast blog, is conducting its own ongoing poll about the phenomenon. So far, it finds that 54 percent of Americans do not support a news ban imposed in a fitness spot.

“Would you like to see your local gym take a similar action, or are you more than happy to check out the news while pumping iron, running on the treadmill, stretching, taking selfies, or doing whatever you like to do at the gym?” asks analyst A.J. Katz, who is conducting the poll.

CABLE WARS OF A DIFFERENT KIND

The idea that Russian submarines could somehow damage undersea fiber optic cables in the North Atlantic and completely disrupt U.S. internet service is a weird and scary notion. Don’t worry, advises Louise Matsakis, who covers security issues for Wired.com.

“The likelihood of that happening is very small. Most of the concerns and fears are not nearly a threat at all,” New York University communications professor Nicole Starosielski told the publication; she is the author of the definitive 2015 book “Undersea Network” which charts the deep water cable realm.

“Ruptures aren’t exactly an anomaly. One of the estimated 428 undersea cables worldwide is damaged every couple of days. Nearly all faults aren’t intentional. They’re caused by underwater earthquakes, rock slides, anchors, and boats,” writes Ms. Matsakis, who notes that “cable repair ships” are always patrolling the world’s waters.

“You don’t notice when a cable faults, especially if you live somewhere like the United States, because your Instagram message or Google Voice call is instantly re-routed,” she continues. “That means Russia snipping a handful of cables in the Atlantic, where its submarines have been spotted, would disturb the global internet very little. In fact, even if it ruptured every single cable in the Atlantic Ocean, traffic could still be re-routed the other way, across the Pacific.”

For a somewhat astonishing look at the location of these hundreds of garden hose-sized cables, visit Submarinecablemap.com.

SUPPLYING THE IMPEACHMENT FIX

“Perhaps the most noteworthy media development of the Trump era is the rise of ‘impeachment porn’: regular breathless stories that purport to share the latest dirt from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation — but are based on nothing more than innuendo and speculation,” notes a New York Post editorial, citing a recent New York Times account which claimed President Trump is trying to control Mr. Mueller’s ongoing Russian collusion probe.

“The article is a mix of leaks from various sources — none of which seem to come directly from Mueller’s office,” the Post points out. “The story merely adds more smoke without providing any substantive fire. And smoke only obscures reality. In short, ‘impeachment porn’ exploits its audience every bit as much as the regular kind.”

POLL DU JOUR

37 percent of Americans say that football is their favorite sport to watch; 38 percent of conservatives, 41 percent of moderates and 28 percent of liberals agree.

11 percent of Americans overall say that basketball is their favorite sport to watch; 10 percent of conservatives, 11 percent of moderates and 16 percent of liberals agree.

9 percent of overall say that baseball is their favorite spectator sport; 12 percent of conservatives, 6 percent of moderates and 11 percent of liberals agree.

7 percent of overall say soccer is their favorite sport to watch; 5 percent of conservatives, 6 percent of moderates and 13 percent of liberals agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,049 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 4-11 and released Friday.

The poll also found 4 percent of Americans most like to watch ice hockey, 2 percent each opting for auto racing and tennis, and 1 percent each for golf, boxing, figure skating, gymnastics, rodeo, motocross and gymnastics. Gallup did not supply in-depth demographics for these sports.

Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin


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