White House Correspondents Dinner can’t go on after Trump’s toxic outburst

Last week on “Beat the Press,” I said that even though I’ve been arguing for years that the loathsome White House Correspondents Association dinner should be canceled, it had to go on as scheduled this year lest it look like the media were trying to punish President Trump.

Well, I’m going to flip-flop because of Trump’s incendiary tweet declaring that the press is “the enemy of the American People!”

Needless to say, this sort of rhetoric shows — once again — that Trump is clueless contemptuous about the role of the press in a democratic society. But let me go one step further: This could get someone killed.

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‘Nevertheless, she persisted’

Elizabeth Warren at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Elizabeth Warren at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Every member of the Senate, Democrat and Republican, should be lining up today to support Sen. Elizabeth Warren — and the cause of justice — by reading into the record Coretta Scott King’s 1986 letter about Jeff Session’s voter-suppression efforts. Here is NPR’s account of Warren’s showdown with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

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Sunday’s rally in Copley Square was an outpouring of decency. But what’s next?

Oke Metitin: "My parents were immigrants, so I felt obligated to protest." Photo (cc) by Dan Kennedy. For more photos of the rally, please click here.
Oke Metitin: “My parents were immigrants, so I felt obligated to protest.” Photo (cc) by Dan Kennedy. For more photos of the rally, please click here.

If you’ve been looking for decency amid the indecent acts of President Trump, Copley Square on Sunday afternoon was an ideal place to find it. Thousands upon thousands of people gathered to protest the president’s policies aimed at keeping immigrants and refugees out of the country. And notwithstanding the occasional sign with an F-bomb or with a swastika imposed over Trump’s face, they were just so nice.

Among the decent people I met was Oke Metitin, a young Nigerian-American woman who lives in Boston. She was holding a large sign proclaiming Emma Lazarus’s poem that’s inscribed on the Statue of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor …”) followed by “No Ban. No Wall.” I asked her why she had come to Copley Square. “My parents were immigrants, so I felt obligated to protest,” she said. “Hopefully President Trump will get the message that this isn’t constitutional.”

Read the rest at WGBHNews.org. And talk about this post on Facebook.

One more reason why Trump is wrong about the Jews and the Holocaust

The Ovitz family
The Ovitz family

There is so much to think about following President Trump’s illegal, un-American ban on immigrants from several predominantly Muslim countries. I’ll be attending the Copley Square rally later today that’s being organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and will write about it for WGBH News.

For now, let me comment on a small piece of this. As I’m sure you know, Trump issued his executive order on Holocaust Remembrance Day, thus turning the nation’s back on a new generation of refugees at the same time that he was commemorating one of history’s most terrible events. And his statement regarding the Holocaust made no mention of the Jews because, you know, others suffered too.

In my first book, “Little People,” I explored a longstanding belief among people in the dwarfism community that Hitler rounded up all the dwarfs and had them killed. What I found actually reinforced the uniquely Jewish character of the Holocaust. In fact, dwarfs were largely left alone by the Nazis. Some may have been caught up in Hitler’s campaign to eradicate people with severe disabilities, but most people with dwarfism are healthy and ambulatory, and thus did not run afoul of the Nazi killing machine.

Members of the Ovitz family — dwarf entertainers from Hungary — even recalled being helped onto trains by German soldiers. But then it was discovered that they were Jews. They were shipped off to Auschwitz, where they became the subjects of Josef Mengele’s unimaginably cruel experiments. Incredibly, all of them survived.

You can read my chapter on dwarfs and the Holocaust by clicking here.

We are living through very dark times.

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Anti-Trump conservative pundits come to terms with Trump’s ‘American carnage’

Photo via WhiteHouse.gov.
Photo via WhiteHouse.gov

In assessing the dawn of the Trump era, there are plots. There are subplots. And there are sub-subplots. Among the more intriguing of those sub-subplots is the fate of the conservative commentariat under a Republican president who is not conservative and whom most right-leaning pundits fulminated against during the past year and a half.

President Trump has the Fox News Channel, of course. I caught just enough Friday night to see Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson smirking and backslapping over their guy’s rise to power. Some post-Roger Ailes chaos aside, the enduring popularity of Fox may prove to be more than enough to offset the influence of conservatives who are appalled at the prospect of a president who exudes demagoguery as well as several varieties of nationalism, including economic and white.

Other than Fox, though, Trump has received little support from conservatives.

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The daily Trump: Katie Kingsbury on the Globe’s interactive transition graphic

screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-8-16-31-am

The Boston Globe has published a striking interactive graphic of the Trump transition. Titled “A transition like no other,” there’s an entry for every day since Donald Trump’s election. Each box has a thumbnail of the day’s major news and a link to the longer story. Most are accompanied by a tweet from Trump himself.

The graphic also appears in today’s print edition. But the digital version is more fully realized, and is worth checking out by anyone interested in digital storytelling. I emailed a few questions to Katie Kingsbury, the Globe’s managing editor for digital. Her responses are below.

Q: Who is the intended audience?

A: The past few months have been a whirlwind of news — this project was spawned out of a desire to capture the details amid that flood. Trump and his team made Cabinet decisions that will fundamentally change major geopolitical power structures that nations have relied on since World War II. He moved markets through Twitter. He took steps that will fundamentally undo Obama’s legacy over the next several months. Meanwhile, Obama was sanctioning a foreign nation for intervening in our presidential election.

Q: Studies show that people spend very little time on news websites compared to print. One way to counteract that is to produce journalism that invites return visits. Are you hoping this is the sort of feature that people will keep returning to?

A: I do hope people keep returning to it. For one, it is meant to be a good way to showcase our archives for the past three months. For another, there is so much there — you need to spend some serious time with it to realize the breadth of all that has happened since November. My guess is this will become one of those projects that people return to as well months from now, when the details aren’t as fresh.

Q: Do you plan to keep updating it? For how long?

A: We haven’t actually discussed that. It was no small investment by a lot of folks — [political editor] Felice Belman did an amazing job of sorting through 70-plus days of news and finding the best nuggets. [Digital design director] Michael Workman and [design director] Heather Hopp-Bruce spearheaded this gorgeous design for both online and the two-page spread in print. We have designers from across the building — Tonia Cowan, Ryan Huddle, Kelsey Kronmiller, and Brendan Lynch — who contributed illustrations. [Director of audience engagement] Matt Karolian and [deputy managing editor for audience engagement] Jason Tuohey have an ambitious social plan for today and tomorrow. Matt Ellis, our product manager, pulled together all these moving parts.

With that infrastructure in place, we would be able to keep it going without a ton of effort. Now I plan to explore that today. Thanks for the idea!

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Yes, Sen. Grassley, there are plenty of reasons to worry about the fate of Medicare

Keep your eyes open, journalists. Connect the dots. Sometimes it’s as easy as reading two stories in the same day’s newspaper — in this case, The Washington Post. A story on Republican efforts to come up with a repeal-and-replace plan for the Affordable Care Act includes this:

Some congressional Republicans have been more vocal in recent days about concerns that they are hearing from constituents on what comes after the law is repealed. Several also suggested that Democrats are deliberately spreading misinformation.

“I think you hear from two categories,” said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). “One are people that think Medicare is going to be affected, and obviously we haven’t made very clear that there’s absolutely no connection with Medicare. And the other one is dealing with the people they think are going to lose their insurance as soon as we … repeal.”

Those dastardly lying Democrats! But wait. Elsewhere in the Post, we learn that Tom Price, who is Donald Trump’s choice to be the next secretary of health and human services, is in fact a sworn enemy of Medicare:

Starting early in his tenure on Capitol Hill, Price wrote a series of commentaries lambasting the popular Medicare program and exhorting changes along more conservative lines. “Its flawed structure increasingly fails our seniors on all counts — responsiveness, innovation, access, cost and quality,” he wrote in 2008 in the Washington Times. He has repeatedly introduced legislation that would have converted Medicare from the entitlement program it has been since its origins in the 1960s to a system of “defined contribution,” with the government giving older Americans fixed sums to help them purchase private health plans.

For what it’s worth, the bylines of Post reporters Julie Eilperin and Amy Goldstein appear on both stories.

And let’s not forget that House Speaker Paul Ryan spends most of his waking hours dreaming about doing away with Medicare.

I guess the most logical explanation for letting Grassley’s words stand without challenge  is that destroying Obamacare will not destroy Medicare. Instead, it will require a separate vote.