- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Some eight weeks ago, the nation’s capital shook with the power of several hundred thousand motorcycles as the Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom came to town for the 32nd time to raise awareness for POW and MIA issues and help military veterans. As it has in the past, the unapologetically patriotic demonstration drew national news coverage for the sheer size and spectacle of the gathering, organized by stalwart volunteers who last year raised $256,276 for vets in need of such basics as rent, clothing and food.

This year’s ride drew national and even international headlines for another reason, however.

Army veteran Artie Muller founded the original ride with fellow vet Ray Manzo in 1988. Mr. Muller later went on to trademark the name, found Rolling Thunder Inc. and Rolling Thunder charities. He also created a 501(c)(4) nonprofit veterans organization.

The press took heed this year when Mr. Muller made it known that 2019 was the final Rolling Thunder demonstration in Washington due to the ever increasing logistical and financial challenges of the huge event. Happy to get melodramatic, many news organizations reported that this was the “last ride” — period.

“We’re not going anywhere. We’re just going nationwide,” Mr. Muller told The Washington Times — which means the organization’s 95 chapters around the nation will organize their own demonstrations next year.



During this year’s ride, President Trump issued a cryptic tweet: “The Great Patriots of Rolling Thunder WILL be coming back to Washington, D.C. next year, & hopefully for many years to come. It is where they want to be, & where they should be. Have a wonderful time today. Thank you to our great men & women of the Pentagon for working it out!”

Conflicting news reports proclaimed that the D.C. demonstration in 2020 would happen. Or would not happen. Or something.

Meanwhile, Mr. Muller has revealed that the mighty wheels of Washington are turning.

“I came home the other day and got a phone message from the president’s secretary,” Mr. Muller told a sizable crowd of Rolling Thunder members assembled for a monthly meeting last weekend, revealing that an initial conversation with Mr. Trump had taken place.

“So that’s the first time I talked to the president on the phone. He wants to get together. He wants to talk some more.”

Stay tuned.

44 HOURS OF OBSESSION

According to a timely Newsbusters.org study, evening newscasts on NBC, ABC and CBS spent 2,634 minutes — nearly 44 hours — covering investigations into alleged Russia collusion and obstruction of justice from Jan. 20, 2017, to July 20, 2019.

These TV news reports centered upon the Mueller report accounted for nearly 20% of all coverage of President Trump and his administration since inauguration day, says Rich Noyes, senior editor of Newsbusters,

While coverage of the Russia probe was extensive, the same broadcast news barely covered some of the unresolved questions surrounding the investigation’s bias — such as the biased text messages of FBI agents and the use of a “Democratic-funded dossier” — that managed to warrant a mere 34 minutes of coverage between them.

“It seems likely that House Republicans will pose at least some of these questions to [former special counsel Robert] Mueller on Wednesday, ensuring an audience of tens of millions of Americans will be exposed to these controversies. And, because the media have done such a poor job of covering these angles of the Russia investigation during the past two-and-a-half years, many Americans will be hearing about them for the very first time,” writes Mr. Noyes.

UH-OH: AND NOW IT’S MUELLER TIME

Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s appearance Wednesday on Capitol Hill will be showcased by every major news organization in the nation — and has drawn a cross-section of predictions, commentary and Trump bashing.

Yes, multiple news organizations have coyly proclaimed it’s “Mueller time,” and offered complex guidelines on “what to look for.” The Washington Post has declared that the media “is getting a second chance to cover Robert Mueller’s findings — and this time get it right.”

Yes, well. The GOP has a thing or two to say as well.

“Beating a dead hoax: Despite the special counsel and Justice Dept. finding no collusion and no obstruction, Democrats are continuing their theatrics,” notes a Republican National Committee analysis.

“While Democrats continue their witch hunt, they ignore the fact that the Obama/Biden administration allowed Russia to engage in a ‘sweeping and systemic’ interference campaign in the United States,” the GOP continues, citing evidence gleaned from Mr. Mueller’s report, which was issued four months ago — though its may seem more like 400 months ago.

Along with endless hubbub from the major broadcasters, Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, has teamed up Hollywood director/activist Rob Reiner and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Michigan Democrat, plus a half a dozen analysts to offer reactions on Mr. Mueller’s appearance. Their appearances will be streamed live for 12 hours. And yes, the group has organized testimony watch parties nationwide.

Those weary of serious news sullied by too much opinion or fancy graphics should turn to C-SPAN, which begins broadcasting Mr. Mueller’s testimony at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

FOXIFIED

Fox News remains the most-watched cable network for the 28th week in a row, according to Nielsen Media Research. Fox News drew 2.5 million prime-time viewers last week, compared to 1.6 million for MSNBC, 1.2 million for HGTV, 1.2 million for the Hallmark Channel and 1.1 million for TBS, to round out the top five. CNN was in 11th place, with 873,000 viewers.

Prime-time host Tucker Carlson ruled the ratings, emerging as the most-watched show in the cable realm, drawing an audience 4 million during live coverage of President Trump’s recent rally in North Carolina. In addition, presentations of Mr. Carlson’s show, “Hannity,” “The Story,” “The Ingraham Angle” and “The Five” accounted for 17 of the top 25 cable telecasts.

POLL DU JOUR

30% of Americans “strongly oppose” abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); 57% of Republicans, 28% of independents and 9% of Democrats agree.

13% “somewhat oppose” abolishing the agency; 12% of Republicans, 11% of independents and 15% of Democrats agree.

25% are “not sure” what to do; 15% of Republicans, 35% of independents and 22% of Democrats agree.

19% “strongly support” abolishing ICE; 9% of Republicans, 12% of independents and 35% of Democrats agree.

14% “somewhat support” abolishing the agency; 7% of Republicans, 13% of independents and 20% of Democrats agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens conducted July 14-16 and released Monday.

• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.

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