I have a column criticizing Twitterfor its labelling of tweets from President Donald Trump as presumptively false. Twitter has yielded to demands in Congress to censor and regulate political speech. In signature style, however, Trump promptly bulldozed the high ground in the controversy by threatening to close down social media companies through retaliatory regulations. The First Amendment was written to bar that very authority in either the President or Congress or both. The President cannot be the putative victim of private censorship while claiming the authority to engage in government censorship. In fairness however Democratic leaders have threatened such a regulatory crackdown in the past. The coverage on Trump’s threat telling omits the fact that Democratic leaders and presidential candidates have made the same threat in the past.
We have been discussing the struggle of Democratic members and various commentators in rejecting sexual assault allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden while also opposing any review of his papers for past allegations, including those at the University of Delaware. Some members and feminist figures, including most recently Iihan Omar, have declared that they believe that Biden did rape his Senate aide Tara Reade and is continuing to lie about it publicly. However, they still support him to be the next President of the United States. Now, former George Bush ethics lawyer Richard Painter has chastised Omar for publicly stating that she believes Reade because it could cost the Democrats the election. It is a curious ethical line to draw. If a member believes that Biden is not just a rapist but continuing to lie about the rape, one would hope that the member would publicly voice their view. Just as I find Omar’s position to be morally incomprehensible, I find Painter’s position to be ethically incomprehensible.
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on special dispensation given Joe Biden by members of Congress, commentators, and the media. We previously discussed the muted media response to false legal comments from President Barack Obama and other Obama officialson the Flynn case. The pattern of media avoidance is more glaring with recent Biden controversies. Notably, the column ran when Biden gave his interview on the radio show “The Breakfast Club” that “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” This weekend, I was critical of segments on CNN and NBC’s Meet the Press which quoted Biden but cut off the line where he falsely claimed to have received multiple endorsements from the NAACP. CNN’s John King derisively referred to controversy as something people are “trying to make hay” out of and then played the interview. However, CNN clipped the tape to leave out the next line where Biden declared “The NAACP has endorsed me every time I’ve run. Come on, take a look at my record.” Despite that invitation to look at his record, CNN and other media routinely cut out the false statement and also omitted any discussion of the false claim linked to the NAACP. On a story about Biden’s claim that all black voters must vote for him (or not be truly black), it would seem material that he also falsely claimed endorsements from the leading organization in the African American community. However, it was routinely omitted from the tape and Biden has not been asked to respond to the rebuttal from the NAACP. It is precisely the type of crafting of the coverage to confine damage for Biden that is discussed in the column.
Here is the column: Continue reading “Why Joe Biden Can Do No Wrong”
Scarborough’s co-host and wife Mika Brzezinki is calling for President Donald Trump to be banned on Twitter after he resumed his bizarre pushing of a conspiracy theory that Joe Scarborough murdered an intern in 2001. I have long denounced the President’s use of the tragic story of Lori Klausutis as callous and wrong. There is not a shred of support for this claim and the constant tweets from the President only adds to this tragedy for the Klausutis family. As I noted yesterday, “politics ain’t beanbag” but it is also not a license for such malicious slandering of your critics. Having said that, I do not support the effort to ban Trump from Twitter. I have written repeatedly about the danger posed by calls from politicians for increased censorship on social media and the Internet. Indeed, I criticized Trump recently for such banning of opposing views from his Twitter account.
Former Vice President Joe Biden had a bad day yesterday after his statement during an interview with Charlamagne tha God on the radio show “The Breakfast Club” that “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” To Biden’s credit, he came out an apologized. (Something President Donald Trump has consistently refused to do for comments like his statement that Jewish voters who voted for the Obama Administration “do not like Israel too much”). However, Atlantic staff writer Jemele Hill has kept the controversy brewing with her insistence that Biden’s statement that over a million such Black voters in recent polling are not really (as opposed to “technically”) black was “accurate.” The controversy raises some of the issues addressed recently in a column on the stereotyping of Trump supporters. [Biden is also facing a push back from the NAACP which said that, despite his repeated statements to the contrary, it has never endorsed Biden or anyone else.]
Below is my column in USA Today on concerns over the recent orders of U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan. As leading lawyers, including a former Clinton U.S. Attorney openly advise Sullivan on how to “make trouble” for the Administration, these calls only magnify concerns over the purpose of these proceedings and whether they are increasingly detached from the merits of the pending motion. While many seem to relish the improvisational element, they risk undermining the judicial element of the proceedings. Flynn’s team has sought the removal of Sullivan (a very difficult proposition, particularly in the D.C. Circuit). The intense opposition in the bar and teaching academy to Trump seems again to have greatly distorted the legal analysis, which fails to address the most troubling aspects of these orders. As I have previously acknowledged, there are good-faith arguments to be made but much of the analysis has ignored the strong precedent against a denial of the motion and rarely even acknowledge the serious implications for the rights of defendants in such action. I address some of the countervailing (and in my view controlling) authority in a separate posting.
Notably, the D.C. Circuit gave Judge Sullivan ten days to respond to the motion seeking his removal. Thus, these issues will presumably be addressed by Judge Sullivan before any hearing is held.
We have been discussing the hypocrisy in the response of Democratic politicians, media outlets, and many commentators in their response to the allegations of sexual assault by former Vice President Joe Biden as compared to their position against Justice Brett Kavanaugh. This has included an opposition to simply opening up the Biden papers for a search of any sexual harassment or assault allegations made against him. This has included statements from leading figures that they believe Biden did sexually assault Biden staffer Tara Reade but would still endorse him. None however have gone quite as far as Nation columnist Katha Pollitt who has declared that she would support Biden “if he boiled babies and ate them.” Biden has not issued any position on such infanticide but politicians have long opposed the practice since the demise of Cronus. Putting any humor aside, the statement does show how rigid and fanatical both sides have become in this election. While Democrats have long denounced Trump for saying he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, Biden supporters like Pollitt have said equally disturbing things about their blind loyalty. More importantly, this sense of a mission is manifested in much of the legal and media analysis that we have discussed on this blog on both sides of the political spectrum.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced that a formal criminal investigation has been launched into then-Vice President Joe Biden’s demand that Ukraine’s former president, Petro Poroshenko fire the country’s lead prosecutor in exchange for U.S. aid. Critics, and President Donald Trump has long argued that Biden was seeking to end an investigation into Burisma, an oil company that gave his son, Hunter, highly suspicious payments as a board member. The investigation will now go forward as the Senate issued the first subpoenas of its own on the Biden-Burisma scandal.
For decades, the legal community has decried common practices used by prosecutors to coerce pleas from defendants. Prosecutors often stack up charges and then drain defendants until they agree to pleading guilty. There was a time when such abuses were regularly called out in leading newspapers. These are not those times. Continue reading “Out Like Flynn: How the Media Embraced Prosecutorial Misconduct As An Article Of Faith”
President Donald Trump and the White House appear to have violated a 2019 federal court order that it cannot block twitter accounts from the official White House account, @realDonaldTrump, based in the content of its tweets. The account, @realDonaldTrFan, has over 313,000 followers and savages the President regularly with parodies. If the site was blocked as reported, the action would be a flagrant disregarding of the authority of the federal courts.
We have previously discussed the uncertain standard applying to teachers and professors who are subject to discipline for social media postings. It often seems that any termination or discipline is based upon subjective or majoritarian views of the content of postings. The latest such case is out of Catholic University of America where adjunct professor John Tieso has been suspended after tweets ridiculing Barack Obama and Kamala Harris after working for the school since 2013. Tieso told the site The College Fix that he is considering legal action.