Trump Will Skip the White House Correspondents’ Dinner This Year
President Donald Trump took a break from criticizing the media to announce he won’t be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year. In a tweet Saturday afternoon, the commander in chief doesn’t give a reason for eschewing tradition and skipping the annual event that is scheduled for April 29.
I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
Trump attended the dinner in the past as a guest and was the butt of jokes by both then-President Barack Obama and comedian Seth Meyers in 2011. Now that he could be the star of the night, the president said he won’t be going a day after he once again railed against the media at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.
The annual dinner has long been criticized by many who say it puts on display how Washington journalists are way too close to the politicians they’re covering. And even though it’s still months away there was already lots of handwringing in the media world about whether to participate in the annual event considering Trump’s adversarial relationship with the press. CNN, for example, was considering skipping the event entirely.
The commander in chief made the decision to not attend as it was becoming clear that the dinner would not be nearly as glitzy of an affair as had become the norm during the Obama presidency. Bloomberg confirmed on Friday it was canceling its famed after party for the dinner after Vanity Fair, its longtime partner in the lavish affair, had already pulled out. The New Yorker had also said it wouldn’t be holding its traditional kickoff party this year. Comedian Samantha Bee, meanwhile, had announced an alternative to the annual dinner under the creative name “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.”
As some of the big media outlets began scaling back their plans for the dinner, others outright called on journalists to skip the event. “Whether Trump himself will show up is an open question anyway; but regardless, news organizations should buy tickets as usual (it's for a good cause) but make other plans that night and if he does attend, let the ratings- and crowd-obsessed narcissist freak address an empty ballroom,” wrote Robert Schlesinger of US News & World Report. Boston Globe columnist Renée Loth recently wrote that it’s about time for a shakeup:
The White House Correspondents’ dinner is a hoary Washington tradition founded in 1921 in which the president, and the reporters entrusted to keep a check on him, engage in an evening of cheer. But the dinner is Exhibit A of the too-cozy relationship between political and media elites that has badly undermined journalism’s most precious asset: its credibility. The obsequious hob-nobbing is why many Americans consider the press to be part of the problem.
Now some news outlets and individual reporters are considering skipping the dinner this April. Trump supporters have seized on the potential boycott as proof of the media’s double standard. Maybe it took the shock of Trump’s election to reacquaint the Washington press corps with its essential watchdog mission, but better late than never: The demise of this unseemly lovefest is long overdue.
Amid rising questions about the event, the White House Correspondents’ Association confirmed earlier this month the event would go on as planned. “This year, as we do every year, we will celebrate the First Amendment and the role an independent press plays in a healthy republic,” the association’s president, Jeff Mason, said in a statement. But it seems those are two things the commander in chief doesn't have much interest in celebrating.
Establishment Candidate Tom Perez Wins Election To Lead Democratic Party
The divisions within the Democratic Party were in full view on Saturday, when former Labor Secretary Thomas Perez narrowly defeated Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota to become the new head of the Democratic National Committee. As soon as Perez won 235 votes on the second ballot and became the first Latino chair of the DNC, Ellison’s supporters began chanting: “Party for the people, not big money!” It was the party’s first contested election for the chairmanship in more than three decades, and the balloting in Atlanta on Saturday made it clear the “Democrats have yet to heal the wounds from last year’s presidential primary,” as the New York Times puts it. In a nod to these divisions, Perez quickly called on Ellison to serve as deputy chair.
"We are all in this together," Perez said, as he called on Democrats to unite against “the worst president in the history of the United States.” Ellison accepted the position and said his supporters should unite behind the new leadership: “If you came here supporting me, wearing a Keith t-shirt, or any t-shirt, I’m asking you to give everything you’ve got to support Chairman Perez.”
Although some in the party said they wanted to avoid a repeat of the primary fight between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders that seemed to be inevitable as the contest effectively became a two-man race. Perez was endorsed by several members of former president Barak Obama’s administration while Ellison was backed by the likes of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Ellison had been one of the few members of Congress to publicly back Sanders’ presidential bid.
Despite the endorsements, Perez’s victory “did not represent a Democratic shift to the right,” notes the Washington Post, which points out that on key issues his platform was uncannily similar to that espoused by Ellison. In the end, several DNC members said that they were convinced Perez was better prepared to give state parties what they needed.
In a statement shortly after Perez’s victory, Sanders called for change in the Democratic Party structure. "It is imperative that Tom understands that the same-old, same-old is not working and that we must open the doors of the party to working people and young people in a way that has never been done before,” Sanders said. “Now, more than ever, the Democratic Party must make it clear that it is prepared to stand up to the 1 percent and lead this country forward in the fight for social, racial, economic and environmental justice.”
Perez is taking over for Donna Brazile, who became the interim chief following Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation after hacked emails appeared to show the DNC had tried to boost Clinton’s candidacy.
Oscar-Nominated Syrian Cinematographer Barred From Entering U.S. for Awards
The Department of Homeland Security has blocked a 21-year-old Syrian cinematographer who worked on an Oscar-nominated documentary about the country's civil war, The White Helmets, from entering the country. The Associated Press saw some “internal Trump administration correspondence” in which officials decided to block Khaled Khateeb’s entry into the United States. Khateeb was scheduled to arrive Saturday in Los Angeles via Istanbul, but U.S. official reportedly found “derogatory information” on Khateeb. “Derogatory information is a broad category that can include anything from terror connections to passport irregularities,” reports the AP.
Khateeb had been granted a visa to attend Sunday’s Academy Awards but he was detained by Turkish authorities and now apparently would need a passport waiver to enter the United States. Khateeb countered the claim that he had been detained but refused to elaborate on his situation. On Twitter, Khateeb wrote that he had a visa but "passport not accepted."
After 3days at airport, not allowed to travel to #oscars2017 - had US visa - but passport not accepted. Sad, but important work to do here.— Khaled Khatib (@995Khaled) February 25, 2017
A message in the White Helmets' Twitter account noted that Khateen wouldn’t be able to attend the Oscars because he isn’t “allowed to leave Turkey because passport not issued by Damascus.” Asked for comment, the Department of Homeland Security only said that “a valid travel document is required for travel to the United States.”
The White Helmets is a 40-minute Netflix documentary that tells the story of the rescue workers who risk their lives to save Syrians affected by the long civil war. Khateeb is one of three people credited for the documentary’s cinematography.
Shortly after President Donald Trump issued an executive order restricting travel into the United States by citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries, including Syria, Khateeb had pledged he would attend the ceremony. “I plan to travel to L.A. for the Oscars, where the film is nominated for an award. If we win this award, it will show people across Syria that people around the world support them. It will give courage to every volunteer who wakes up every morning to run towards bombs,” he said in a statement.
Khateeb’s eagerness to travel to the United States for the ceremony stood in stark contrast to that of Asghar Farhadi, the Iranian filmmaker who is nominated for the Salesman. Shortly after Trump unveiled his travel ban, Farhadi said he would not travel to the United States for the Academy Awards, even if he were allowed.
On Friday, Farhadi joined his fellow contenders for the Best Foreign Language Film award in issuing a statement decrying the “climate of fanaticism and nationalism” in the United States and other countries. Regardless of who wins, the five filmmakers already preemptively dedicated their award:
Regardless of who wins the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film on Sunday, we refuse to think in terms of borders. We believe there is no best country, best gender, best religion or best color. We want this award to stand as a symbol of the unity between nations and the freedom of the arts.
Human rights are not something you have to apply for. They simply exist—for everybody. For this reason, we dedicate this award to all the people, artists, journalists and activists who are working to foster unity and understanding, and who uphold freedom of expression and human dignity—values whose protection is now more important than ever. By dedicating the Oscar to them, we wish to express to them our deep respect and solidarity.
The True Face of Trump Conservatism Can Be Seen In CPAC’s Swag Center
The winner of 2016’s CPAC straw poll was Sen. Ted Cruz. Donald Trump came in third. The result likely came as no surprise to those who gathered to hear Cruz’s speech to the convention last year. He opened with a comment on Trump’s absence—his campaign said in a statement that he was skipping CPAC for a critical rally in Wichita ahead of Kansas’ caucuses. He would lose Kansas by more than 20 points. Cruz won.
“I think somebody told him Megyn Kelly was going to be here,” Cruz said in his opening. The crowd laughed and cheered. “Or even worse, he was told there were conservatives that were going to be here.”
“It’s easy to talk about making America great again,” Cruz said at one point. “You can even print that on a baseball cap. But the question is: Do you understand the principles that made America great in the first place?”
Few hints remained at this year’s conference that this had ever been an open question. Countless MAGA hats and the glowing reception that greeted the president himself and speakers from the White House—including Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon—suggested a thoroughly pro-Trump crowd.
“I would have come last year,” Trump said in his speech. “But I was worried that I would be—at that time—too controversial.”
What a difference a year and an electoral-college victory make. This time around, the American Conservative Union chair Matt Schlapp offered unending praise of Trump’s first days in office. What could have changed? Had there been something amiss about Trump’s personal conduct in March 2016? If so, this time around there were few leaders of the party’s faith wing prominently featured to make a fuss about it. This year, nearly all of the speakers at CPAC did their best to make his transformation into the de facto leader of the conservative movement appear seamless—to make the uglier parts of Trumpism and the conservative rhetoric that helped bring it about disappear. They almost succeeded.
One level below the ballroom where Trump and other main-stage speakers made their appearances is the “CPAC Hub,” an area where conservative groups and retailers set up booths to hawk their various causes and wares. There, beneath the rowdy applause and the cameras, signs of a scattered movement were obvious.
“It is a very different atmosphere,” Tiffany Harding of AtheistVoter said of the difference between 2016 and 2017. “A lot of people dropped out because of Trump.” She pointed in the direction of empty space at the other side of the hall and said that many of the Christian and faith groups her group would table beside had stayed away from the convention this year. “Yeah, they’re gone. There are some but not as much as last time.”
Brigham Young University, a major Mormon college, had a sizable presence at the Hub last year, she remembered. “They’re not here. I just did a circuit, and I’m telling you, half of this space—I remember, I picked up a Trump hat in that corner over there. I don’t know; people are bailing.”
So who was there? Ken Bone, for one, posing for photos at a table for the political software company Victory Holdings.
The NRA brought a massive structure featuring a portrait of National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre gazing down at passers by; at an actual booth elsewhere in the hall they offered digital target practice with replica guns.
Other usual suspects were there, including the Young Americans for Freedom—not to be confused with the Young Americans for Liberty, who also had a booth. One “Art Therapy Lounge” set up by Red Alert Politics was designed to mock collegiate safe spaces and offered “snowflake” coloring books.
A booth offering pamphlets adorned with photos of plants seemed to belong to a lonely environmental group. Upon closer inspection, one learned that the group, called the CO2 Coalition, is aimed at advancing the Republican talking point that high CO2 emissions and climate change will be good for the planet.
A couple of booths were dedicated to groups for criminal-justice reform, remnants of that brief period before Trump’s rise when some pundits insisted that the future of the party belonged to moderate conservative wonks.
But one of the largest booths in the hub, naturally, was a merchandise display for Breitbart, one of the convention’s sponsors. The convention’s organizers may have booted Milo Yiannopoulos from the schedule, but they were happy to have the organization that employed him and others to slander minorities, Islam, and feminism and show off their gear.
Breitbart, as has been conveniently forgotten by the conservative movement’s bigwigs, was once called “the platform for the alt-right” by its then-head Steve Bannon. Some of the conference’s program was aimed at erasing the ties between the ideas of that movement and the conservative establishment. The American Conservative movement’s Dan Schneider denounced the alt-right early on Thursday with a bemused Richard Spencer sitting in the audience. Shortly afterward, conspiracy theorist Clare Lopez took the main stage to warn that the Muslim Brotherhood was working to recruit young people into radical Islam through Muslim Students Associations on college campuses. This is, of course, precisely the kind of Islamophobia that has constituted a key part of the white-nationalist case for severely restricting immigration; the Muslims are among those seeking to change American society through multiculturalism, they say, and true Americans ought not to let them.
Interestingly enough, pushback against this line of thinking came by way of a panel on international threats featuring Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and White House adviser Sebastian Gorka, whose views on Islam have been closely scrutinized by the press. “There are Muslims across the world who share our values,” Jasser, himself a Muslim said. “We’re a diverse global population with ideas that span from fundamentalist, to orthodox, to liberal, to secular.” Gorka, citing the example of a Muslim Jordanian pilot who had been burned to death in a cage by ISIS a few years ago, agreed. “This idea that we’re at war with Islam is really fallacious,” he said. “Because what’s the religion of the guy in a cage who was burnt alive. He’s not a Baptist. He’s not a Hindu. He’s not an Episcopalian.”
Yet there was abundant evidence below in the Hub that this view is still contested among many in the conservative movement. One group had a sign on their table asking passers by, “What’s wrong with a Muslim ban?” and offered a flyer titled “The ‘Muslim Ban’ Unconstitutional, Really?”
“It’s a fact that Islam wants all of humanity to be either Muslim or dead,” it read. “This is not a discriminatory call to single out Muslims for some form of ‘religious test,’ but rather for an honest evaluation as to whether Islam conforms to the standard of civility required by our Founders before any ‘religion’ be considered worthy of constitutional protections.”
One visitor to the table who said he was a retired general approved. “Some people say you can be a good Muslim and a good American,” he said. “I don’t.”
“Some of them are good people,” the tabler replied. “But we need to be honest with them.”
“Their founder was a murderer and a pedophile!”
There was much more in the hub for those with similar views. There was a group called the “American Freedom Alliance”—whose self-description as a “movement of concerned Americans advancing the values and ideals of Western Civilization”—that called the white nationalists of the alt-right immediately to mind. Its conferences have featured prominent Islamophobes like Geert Wilders, who has called Islam and freedom incompatible; Pamela Geller, who called Barack Obama “a third worlder and a coward” in the service of “Islamic overlords”; and Robert Spencer, who believes Islam cannot be seen as a religion of peace. “It has an inherently political character that is being brought to the West by immigrants and will cause more trouble in the future,” he said in a 2007 interview. “The jihadists have not hijacked it.”
Spencer’s and Geller’s books were actually offered for sale by at least two vendors in the hub, including in one display alongside a selection of children’s books.
One of these vendors said that their selection of titles every year reflects both those invited to speak at the conference and books that have sold well at conferences past. Only the latter criteria can explain one book offered for purchase at this year’s CPAC; sandwiched between Ann Coulter’s anti-immigration screed Adios, America and a Glenn Beck title called It Is About Islam was an anthology of essays on immigration from the white-nationalist site VDare.
In a lot of ways, the Hub told you more about the state of conservatism under Donald Trump than any of CPAC’s actual speakers.
Trump’s National Security Adviser: Avoid Phrase “Radical Islamic Terrorism”
Donald Trump’s new national security adviser appears to have a strikingly different view from many in the administration about the link between terrorists and their religion. In the first full staff meeting since taking his new job, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster told National Security Council staff that the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” wasn’t a helpful label because terrorists are “un-Islamic,” reports the New York Times. McMaster told staff members that the phrase blames “an entire religion” so “he’s not on board,” someone who participated in the meeting told the Guardian.
McMaster’s words are in sharp contrast to the language used by his predecessor, Michael Flynn, and even Trump himself, who frequently criticized President Barack Obama for not using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” During the campaign, Trump also used it as a talking point against Hillary Clinton. “These are radical Islamic terrorists and she won't even mention the word, and nor will President Obama. He won't use the term ‘radical Islamic terrorism’,” Trump said during the Oct. 9 debate at Washington University in St. Louis. “Now, to solve a problem, you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least say the name. She won't say the name and President Obama won't say the name. But the name is there. It's radical Islamic terror.”
Analysts quickly pointed out McMaster’s choice of words has a much deeper meaning. “This is very much a repudiation of his new boss’s lexicon and worldview,” William McCants, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said.
McMaster also appeared to strike a different tone on Russia, telling National Security Council staff “the talk about Moscow being a friend of Washington is over,” reports CNN, citing a source who was present at the meeting.
Although McMaster’s words could signal a coming clash with the White House, it could also be a sign that he is eager to push the National Security Council away from politics. Before Flynn was fired for misleading the vice president and others about conversations he held with the Russian ambassador numerous reports talked of a demoralized Council as veteran staff were troubled by overt partisanship among the new leadership.
Senators could choose to publicly question McMaster about his differences with the president and his team if the Senate Armed Services Committee holds a confirmation hearing. Although the national security adviser post doesn’t require Senate approval, senators must approve of McMaster's decision to remain a three-star general in his new post.
Trump Tweet Once Again Appears to Show President Is Glued to Fox News
Donald Trump wants you to know he’s such a great president that even though he’s only been in office one month, he has already boosted the economy and helped reduce the national debt. "The media has not reported that the National Debt in my first month went down by $12 billion vs a $200 billion increase in Obama first mo," tweeted Trump at 8:19 a.m.
The media has not reported that the National Debt in my first month went down by $12 billion vs a $200 billion increase in Obama first mo.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
Those words sounded awfully familiar to anyone who was watching Fox News’ Fox & Friends early Saturday morning as former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain espoused pretty much the same talking point an hour earlier on the show.
Trump is watching FOX. He just tweeted what Herman Cain said @ 7:36a:"Did you know the Natl Debt in Pres. Trump's 1st month went down 12B?" pic.twitter.com/klnKyXTVXU— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) February 25, 2017
Cain, for his part, was pretty much parroting a recent piece by Gateway Pundit, a conservative pro-Trump blog that now has credentials for White House press briefings. Earlier this week, the blog that has peddled false information about Hillary Clinton's health and voter fraud wrote about how Trump had cut the national debt, which is pretty much hogwash. Even though the debt has decreased “this is accounted for by ordinary rotations in intra-governmental accounts,” as the Atlantic’s David Frum wrote on Twitter. Plus the comparison is pretty meaningless anyway, considering the debt increased after President Obama took office because of a stimulus package that Congress had approved before he had even been sworn in. Under the same token, Trump is still working off last year’s budget so even if there had been a real decrease, his administration can’t take credit.
In real life, the apparent “decline" is accounted for by ordinary rotations in intra-governmental accounts https://t.co/5pyQUIfkkO— David Frum (@davidfrum) February 25, 2017
PolitiFact wrote that Trump’s statement was “mostly false” and said the numbers the president is touting don’t really mean much:
Trump would be wise to not read too much into this figure, which sounds more noteworthy than it actually is. The national debt fluctuates up and down depending on the day. While the debt is "down" after one month, experts say that trend will reverse and the debt will continue to rise.
This factoid is a gross misrepresentation of the state of the debt and the role the new president had in shaping the figure.
More than just another misleading talking point though, the tweet seemed to be a pretty clear illustration of how a talking point made its way from conservative blog post to a Fox News pundit to a presidential tweet, reflecting the conservative echo chamber that appears to be a key source of news for the administration. Just last week Trump acknowledged he had implied there had been a terrorist incident in Sweden after he watched a Fox News segment on the country’s refugee program.
Trump then followed up with another tweet celebrating the state of the economy and the rising stock market.
Great optimism for future of U.S. business, AND JOBS, with the DOW having an 11th straight record close. Big tax & regulation cuts coming!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
He also called on supporters to hold a mass rally, claiming it “would be the biggest of them all.”
Maybe the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN should have their own rally. It would be the biggest of them all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
Muhammad Ali Jr. Detained at Florida Airport, Repeatedly Asked About Religion
Immigration officials detained the son of the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali for nearly two hours after he arrived from a trip to Jamaica. Muhammad Ali Jr. was arriving with his mother at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7 after participating in a Black History Month event in Jamaica when they were suddenly pulled aside while going through Customs. Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the second wife of Muhammad Ali, was apparently quickly let go after she showed officials a photo of herself with her ex-husband, but her son was repeatedly questioned about his origin and religion, family friend and lawyer Chris Mancini told the Louisville Courier-Journal.
When Ali Jr. told immigration officials he is a Muslim, officers questioned him about his nationality even though he was born in Philadelphia and holds a U.S. passport. "To the Ali family, it's crystal clear that this is directly linked to Mr. Trump's efforts to ban Muslims from the United States," Mancini said, referring to President Donald Trump's executive order that barred citizen from seven Muslim-majority countries. Even though the ban has been blocked by the courts, Mancini said Ali Jr.’s experience demonstrates immigration officials are still enforcing the spirit of the measure.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it couldn’t comment on the incident “due to the restrictions of the Privacy Act.” Now Mancini says the Ali family is considering filing a lawsuit and they’re trying to figure out how many other people were subjected to religious-based questioning at the airport.
Today in Conservative Media: Trump’s “Triumphant” Return to CPAC
A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.
On Friday, conservative publications extensively covered Donald Trump’s address to the Conservative Political Action Conference, discussing both his remarks and the crowd’s reportedly enthusiastic response to his appearance.
The Daily Caller exemplified the latter tendency, featuring one short post headlined “Crowd Chants ‘USA! USA! USA!’ as President Trump Takes the Stage” and another in which, it states, he “drew thunderous applause from the crowd” after promising “to protect the Second Amendment.” (On the site’s home page, that post was headlined, “When Trump Said This at CPAC, the Crowd Jumped to Its Feet and Cheered.”) In a longer article, the publication summarized and quoted from the president’s speech, largely without commentary, though it did describe the performance as “a campaign-style speech.”
LifeZette was more explicitly enthusiastic in its write-up, calling Trump’s return to CPAC “triumphant” and claiming that “he mapped out his vision for the nation” in it. Breitbart, similarly, wrote that the president received “a rock star welcome from the packed ballroom” in its primary recap of the event. Gateway Pundit called attention to a moment in which the crowd “immediately started chanting, ‘Lock her up! Lock her up!’ ” after Trump alluded to Hillary Clinton. The site featured a clip of this moment under a headline that read, in part, “It Never Gets Old.”
Breitbart—which relied on multiple anonymous White House sources in a recent article suggesting that Reince Priebus was on his way out—also singled out Trump’s criticism of anonymous sources in a post describing his remarks about the media. Those comments also featured prominently in CPAC reporting from other sites, including the Daily Caller, which set them side by side with Steve Bannon’s similar assertions from the day before. HeatStreet, for its own part, noted, “In what is sure to be the most controversial segment of his speech, Trump even attacked the First Amendment, calling on journalists to reveal the names of anonymous sources.”
In addition to its multiple articles on Trump’s speech, Breitbart ran several on Bannon’s. One, headlined, “The New Yorker: ‘How Steve Bannon Conquered CPAC and the Republican Party,’ ” quotes at length from a Ryan Lizza article. Another headline on the site declared “Krauthammer on Bannon at CPAC: He Showed He Was ‘the Brains of the Operation.’ ” A third post by Breitbart’s own Lee Stranahan offered similar praise for Bannon, who previously served as executive chairman of Breitbart News.
LifeZette, meanwhile, took Trump’s address as an opportunity to revisit his prior appearances at the conference. “In all four [past] speeches, he offered a glimpse of the bold ideas and agendas that Establishment Republicans were hesitant to embrace once he launched his presidential campaign in 2015,” the publication wrote, proposing that Trump had laid out a relatively coherent set of positions over the years.
Posts about Trump’s speech were widely shared from conservative Facebook pages:
The White House Kicked Several Nonconservative Media Outlets Out of Friday’s Press Briefing
The president's press secretary usually holds a daily press briefing in the room you can see pictured above. Friday, though, current POTUS spokesguy Sean Spicer ditched the podium and held an informal "gaggle" briefing elsewhere in the White House. Except he didn't invite a bunch of mainstream media outlets, presumably because they have been too mean to the president, who considers them "enemies of the people." Among the outlets that didn't make the cut: CNN, the New York Times, BuzzFeed, the Los Angeles Times, the Hill, Politico, and the BBC. Breitbart.com, the Washington Times, and the One America News Network—all conservative outlets—were allowed in, as were ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox News.
For an explanation of what seems to be going on here, I recommend this New York Times Magazine piece about how Trump has taken advantage of 21st-century technological trends in order to undercut and embarrass the media with stunts like this one. It's written by a guy I know, and it starts with a reference to a Slate piece by another guy I know. We all live in the same neighborhood, in which many high-end "artisanal" food products are sold, in Brooklyn. You know, maybe Trump has a point about the press being a little cabal of snooty jerks! Down with the press!
The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre at CPAC: The Left Wants to Kill You. So Buy Guns!
NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland—National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre had a message on Friday for Trump supporters who think the election of their beloved tough on crime and terrorism candidate will be enough alone to tackle those two problems: You’re wrong. Dead wrong. “Folks, our long nightmare—it may not be over,” he told CPAC during his address. “The fact is it may be just be beginning. Because right now, we face a gathering of forces that are willing to use violence against us." Who are those violent and dangerous forces needing to be dealt with, if not criminals and terrorists that the Trump administration will soon deal with? Liberals! From the speech:
I think we all agree we live in a more angry, dangerous world than we've seen in a long time. A lot of people, for a lot of reasons, want to blow it all up and tear the whole thing down. It’s in the Saul Alinksy strategy of sowing grievance and indignation to raise holy hell. It's in the leftist radical plan to tax capitalism to collapse. And it’s in the Rahm Emanuel doctrine of ‘Never let a crisis go to waste.’ And it's in the ISIS dream of a worldwide caliphate. So, what happens when it all collects and collides like a hurricane? What happens when the national media wind machine blows it up into a firestorm? And what happens, if, God forbid our enemies use that to their advantage?
The protests against Trump’s presidency, LaPierre said, offer an opportunity for terrorists, who could piggyback on left activism to strike Americans. “What happens when terrorists tag along with a flash mob protest at your local airport,” he asked. “What happens when some freeway Facebook protest on your interstate highway brings it all to a screeching halt?”
The protesters, of course, welcome this LaPierre implied, because the protesters are themselves essentially terrorists. LaPierre opened his speech with clips from isolated incidents of violence from anti-Trump actions.“The left's message is absolutely clear,” he intoned. “They want revenge. You have to be punished. They say you are what is wrong with America. And now, you have to be purged.”
“Another name for terrorism,” he said, “is violence in the name of politics and criminal violence has no place in political debate.”
What to do, then, about these protesters who LaPierre claimed “use the same brutal tactics that the fascists used in Europe”?
“With all the threats facing America today, you are right to protect yourself and your family may be more relevant and more urgently needed than ever before,” he said. “Americans know that in their heart. Americans can feel that in their bones. That is why they joined the National Rifle Association.”
Join the NRA! And purchase these fine NRA-endorsed products.
“Make no mistake, if the violent left brings their terror to our communities, our neighborhoods or into our homes," he concluded, “they will be met with the resolve, and the strength, and the full force of American freedom in the hands of the American people and we will win because we are the majority in this country.”
It feels safe to assume that by “the full force of American freedom” he might partially mean maximum stopping power.