Former Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., once asked a questioner in a town hall, “On what planet do you spend most of your time?” While I don’t often agree with Frank, I’ve always loved that quote. Watching the media coverage of President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union speech last night, it was a question I asked myself over and over again.
While 14-year-old Natalie Ripepi of Venetia, Pennsylvania, was talking about Democrats in the House chamber, her observation holds true of media reactions as well: “I just wonder if they thought this through past their politics, on many of these things all of America is applauding while they are sitting.” Except the media wasn’t sitting; they were going into full-on warrior mode for the Left.
The hottest of hot takes … It is hard top the full-on histrionics usually on display over at Slate. But Yascha Mounk has succeeded. In a piece titled: “Donald Trump just asked Congress to end the rule of law,” Mounk argues that because Donald Trump wants cabinet members to have increased ability to hold federal employees accountable for doing their jobs, that means Trump is a tyrant. Yes, really. Conservative Review’s Chris Pandolfo called it “one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read.” Definitely. The Constitution, in Article II, Section 2, makes it plain that the president has the authority over federal employees. The Supreme Court affirmed the president’s power to fire federal employees in 1925’s Myers v. United States decision.
Mounk argues that a bunch of federal agencies are independent. That is not true. The agencies that Mounk lists are executive branch agencies. The notion that the president, through his his cabinet secretaries, has the power to fire a federal employee isn’t against the notion of the rule of law. It is the rule of law. That law is the Constitution of the United States of America.
CNN doesn’t trust CNN … Let’s be honest. Based on recent polling data, if you told anyone that 70 percent of Americans watching a Donald Trump speech would have a positive view of what they saw, you would call that a win for the president. That’s exactly what a CNN instant poll of those who watched the speech showed. According to the poll, 48 percent of viewers had a “very positive” view of the speech and 22 percent had a “somewhat” positive view of the speech. CNN seized on the “very positive” number and harped that the poll was skewed. Yes, CNN personnel spent time attacking their own poll. For the record, a CBS/YouGov poll showed similar results.
WaPo caves to internet bullies … Last night the Washington Post tweeted out a pic of its Wednesday front page with the headline, “A call for bipartisanship.” That’s when the internet bullies started attacking. So the Post made sure to tell folks that they changed the headline to “A ‘new American moment.’” Twitter user Comfortably Smug has the hilarious side-by-side photos.
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A powerful moment … The most powerful moment of the State of the Union came when Donald Trump told the inspiring story of Ji Seong-ho, a defector from North Korea who walked on crutches to escape the regime. It was a powerful reminder of both the evils of communism and the strength of the human spirit. Yet that is not how left-wing media types saw it. Vox’s Ezra Klein tweeted: “This section of the speech is not about North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. It is about demonizing the (genuinely awful) North Korean regime, about framing them as anti-Christian, in the way presidents do when they are preparing the country for war. This is scary.” Vox’s Zach Beauchamp followed up with a Vox-planation on “the scariest part of Trump’s State of the Union.” Or maybe he could have been showing, while the world was watching, just how evil communist regimes are.
Not just Vox … Over at The Atlantic, Peter Beinart joins in on the “drumbeats of war” narrative, devoting a lengthy piece to arguing that Trump was laying the groundwork for a war with North Korea. You should expect to see more of this narrative in the coming days, painted with words like “impatient,” “weary,” and “reckless.”
Running cover for Kennedy … Last night, the latest in a long line of Massachusetts politicians named Kennedy gave the Democratic response to the State of the Union speech. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III stood in front of a car at a vocational high school in the City of Fall River. Let that optic settle in. The speech was awkward, and even Politico took notice of something weird going on with Kennedy’s face – Kennedy later said it was “Chapstick.”
Other folks in the media LOVED the speech, however. Vox’s Matt Yglesias said that the speech “rediscovered Barack Obama’s compelling vision.” Presumably Yglesias thinks that’s a good thing, not something that led to reality TV star Donald Trump defying all expectations and beating Hillary Clinton on a largely anti-Obama message. But the real prize for providing the best cover to a Kennedy goes to CNN’s Chris Cillizza. You may think to yourself, hey, with all the Democratic talk of racial inequality, #MeToo, and identity politics, putting the white scion of one of America’s most powerful dynastic families on stage wasn’t the best choice. Cillizza is here to tell you why it all made perfect sense.
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Robert Eno is the director of research for Conservative Review. He is a conservative from deep blue Massachusetts but now lives in Greenville, SC.