Day: February 1, 2017

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Media help obviously flawed anti-Trump story go viral


A Michigan man reportedly lied when he claimed his mother died in Iraq as a direct result of President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Middle Eastern states.

But claims that the story was fabricated surfaced only after the press helped Mike Hager’s allegedly bogus tale to go viral.

A Fox affiliate in Detroit is responsible for first reporting that Hager’s mother was a supposed victim of Trump’s immigration order.

“Detroit family caught in Iraq travel ban, says mom died waiting to come home,” read the story’s headline.

The original report is chock-full of juicy and notable passages, including the following:

Mike Hager fled Iraq with his family during the Gulf War, returned during the Iraq war and worked alongside United States Marines and Army forces. He now owns a business in Metro Detroit and said his mom would still be alive today if President Donald Trump had not instituted his travel ban on Muslim countries.

The article also includes this tearjerker of a quote from Hager, “They destroyed us. I went with my family, I came back by myself. They destroyed our family.”

He also told the Fox affiliate, “I was just shocked. I had to put my mom back on the wheelchair and take her back and call the ambulance and she was very, very upset. She knew right there if we send her back to the hospital she’s going to pass away — she’s not going to make it.”

The report even delved into a bit of editorializing of its own, including this line near the story’s conclusion, “He’s a proud American citizen whose family has now been torn apart.”

Ryan: I've spoken more to Trump in 1 month than I did to Obama in 8 years

Also from the Washington Examiner

“I spoke to him twice yesterday.”

02/01/17 6:21 PM

The biggest and most obvious problem with the Fox11 scoop, however, is that there is nothing provided in the story to corroborate Hager’s claim. No secondary sources or confirmation. Nothing. The entire report hinges on the say-so of one man.

But that didn’t stop members of the media from helping the Detroit man’s claim from going viral, as they immediately spread the Fox11 report all over social media.

Nearly 24 hours later, and the Detroit affiliate published a rather startling follow-up report: Hager reportedly lied.

His mother died five days before the Trump White House rolled out the immigration executive order, according to Imam Husham Al-Hussainy, who leads the Karbalaa Islamic Educational Center in Dearborn, Mich.

Al-Hussainy told Fox11, “Hager’s mother had kidney disease and was receiving treatment in Michigan – where she lived – before traveling to Iraq to visit family.”

Pentagon updates Arctic military strategy

Also from the Washington Examiner

Defense Department officials on Wednesday released an updated military strategy for the Arctic.

02/01/17 5:56 PM

She died on Jan. 22, 2017, nearly a week before Trump’s controversial executive order limiting immigration from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

Several of the media members who helped the original story go viral also shared the follow-up report showing Hager likely fabricated the tale. The problem is: You can’t un-ring that bell. Once a bogus story goes mainstream, it’s a hell of a thing trying to get people to focus on the inevitable corrections and clarifications.

There’s no excuse for why Fox11 published the report without first confirming Hager’s story. There’s no excuse for going to print without some small piece of corroborating evidence. Journalists know better than this, and there’s no excuse for those who readily and unhesitatingly shared the story despite its obvious lack of supporting evidence.

The only reason someone would share this story despite its immediately noticeable and obvious flaws is because it sounded right. It scratched the confirmation-bias itch.

Hager is apparently not returning Fox11’s calls.

The Detroit news affiliate has since heavily amended its original report, which was written by Amy Lange.

President Trump attends return of Navy SEAL killed in Yemen

Top Story

President Trump and his daughter Ivanka departed the White House for Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Wednesday afternoon to witness the arrival of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed during an intelligence gathering raid in Yemen last weekend.

Owens, a member of the Navy’s SEAL Team Six, was killed in a clandestine raid at an al Qaeda facility that Trump had authorized early Sunday morning. The operation left four additional U.S. service members wounded and marked the first military fatality under the new administration.

Trump, who was to be joined by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., upon arriving at Dover, had a “very somber and lengthy” conversation with Owens’ family on Tuesday.

02/01/17 3:38 PM



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Pentagon updates Arctic military strategy


Defense Department officials on Wednesday released an updated military strategy for the Arctic that previews an expansion of the U.S. Navy to deter Russian aggression in the region.

“It is DoD’s intent to anticipate the need to respond to emerging challenges in the Arctic and to position itself to take advantage of opportunities to advance U.S. national security objectives,” the unclassified report said.

The planners foresee that melting sea ice “will eventually open a northern maritime avenue of approach to North America” and potentially damage the tools currently being used to detect incoming ships.

With Russia expanding its naval presence in the region, the Pentagon will have to plan for that contingency and ensure that current shipping lanes remain open.

“The biggest thing, from my perspective: they talk about the importance of freedom of navigation operations,” Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, who co-sponsored the legislation requiring the revised plan with Maine independent Angus King, told the Washington Examiner. “We don’t even have the capacity to do that right now, but the fact that they say that is a goal to keep that area open, free — new transportation routes, incredible resources. It’s not 100 percent better, but it’s a significant upgrade.”

To execute the plan, the Navy will have to expand the fleet of submarines and icebreakers, just as Russia has done in recent years. “History is repeating itself,” said Vladimir Blinov, a tour guide on a decommissioned nuclear icebreaker called the Lenin, during a tour of the ship with Reuters. “Back then (in the 1950s) it was the height of the Cold War and the United States was leading in some areas. But we beat the Americans and built the world’s first nuclear ship (the Lenin). The situation today is similar.”

To catch up, the United States will have to increase military spending. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis plans to amend the 2017 budget request in order ask Congress for more money than President Obama’s team planned to seek and gain the flexibility to shift money away from low-priority programs.

“[I]t is up to Congress and the new administration to develop and implement that comprehensive policy in an expedited manner,” Sen. Angus King said in a statement on the report. “If we do not, we risk ceding our influence in the Arctic to others who may not share our objectives.”

Military spending has been an occasion for intense political fights in recent years. Russia’s military buildup — to say nothing of the 2016 campaign cyberattacks against the Democratic party — could provide a measure of bipartisan support for the funding.

Whip count: Here's where Democrats stand on Trump's Supreme Court pick

Also from the Washington Examiner

Republicans will need eight Senate Democrats join the upper chamber’s 52 GOP members to block any filibuster.

02/01/17 5:42 PM

“No one in Congress should sleep on the future of the open seas,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, whose state of Connecticut is home to the some of the companies that build naval vessels, told reporters last March. “If you look at what the Russians are doing in the Arctic and you look at what the Chinese are doing in the South China Seas, we have reason to believe that commercial shipping could be interrupted in a major way within the next decade.”

The updated strategy document also suggests that U.S. naval expansion in the Arctic could provide another rebuke of Russian aggression in Ukraine, according to the report. “Although few Russian activities or investments occur in the Arctic region itself, they signal a recommitment to deterrence and to build capability to defeat aggression against the United States and its allies in the Arctic as well as in other regions,” the document said.

President Trump attends return of Navy SEAL killed in Yemen

Top Story

President Trump and his daughter Ivanka departed the White House for Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Wednesday afternoon to witness the arrival of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed during an intelligence gathering raid in Yemen last weekend.

Owens, a member of the Navy’s SEAL Team Six, was killed in a clandestine raid at an al Qaeda facility that Trump had authorized early Sunday morning. The operation left four additional U.S. service members wounded and marked the first military fatality under the new administration.

Trump, who was to be joined by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., upon arriving at Dover, had a “very somber and lengthy” conversation with Owens’ family on Tuesday.

02/01/17 3:38 PM



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Nikki Finke's political column canceled


Nikki Finke, a longtime entertainment business reporter and founder of the popular Deadline Hollywood website, will no longer write a recently announced politics column for the website Mediaite.com, an informed source told the Washington Examiner.

Mediaite founder and ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams announced in November that Finke was joining his site to write about media and politics. The column was set to begin sometime after the new year, and after the announcement, Finke changed her Twitter profile to say she was a columnist for Mediaite.

But as of Wednesday, her profile no longer says that and now identifies her as senior editorial contributor of entertainment and media for Penske Media Corporation publications, which reflects the decision to cancel the project.

Penske publications include Variety magazine and Deadline Hollywood, where Finke will presumably be published the most in her new role.

This marks the return of Finke to Deadline Hollywood after she and Jay Penske, owner of Penske Media Corporation, engaged in a bitter and public business feud in recent years.

Finke declined to comment to the Examiner, and Abrams did not return a request for comment.

President Trump attends return of Navy SEAL killed in Yemen

Top Story

President Trump and his daughter Ivanka departed the White House for Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Wednesday afternoon to witness the arrival of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed during an intelligence gathering raid in Yemen last weekend.

Owens, a member of the Navy’s SEAL Team Six, was killed in a clandestine raid at an al Qaeda facility that Trump had authorized early Sunday morning. The operation left four additional U.S. service members wounded and marked the first military fatality under the new administration.

Trump, who was to be joined by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., upon arriving at Dover, had a “very somber and lengthy” conversation with Owens’ family on Tuesday.

02/01/17 3:38 PM



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NY Times is bummed Trump hasn't sent them an autographed portrait


The New York Times published a story recently opining that President Trump has yet to send them an autographed copy of his official White House portrait.

Every U.S. president dating back to Harry Truman has sent a portrait to the Times, the Ochs-Sulzberger family or both, the paper noted. The portraits have always come with some polite note attached.

Truman wrote, “Best wishes and kindest regards to Arthur Hays Sulzberger.” Eisenhower wrote, “For Arthur Hays Sulzberger, with best wishes and warm regards to a distinguished American.”

Even Nixon wrote in an autograph dated Dec. 11, 1980, “To the New York Times. Some read it and like it. Some read it and don’t like it. But everybody reads it.”

The incumbent president’s portrait has usually been placed on a credenza near the Times’ wall of honor. But there’s no portrait of Trump, who the Times once subtly compared to Adolf Hitler, in the paper’s boardroom.

“Until this week, it occupied a place of honor on the credenza, standing apart from walls filled with autographed portraits of world leaders,” the Times bemoaned. “That spot is now empty.”

Really heartbreaking stuff.

“Visitors might have been surprised to see George W. Bush or Bill Clinton in such a prominent spot at The Times, but our explanation was always the same: We honor the office even if we are quarreling fiercely with the occupant,” the Times article touted.

On a totally unrelated note, the Times published a book review on Sept. 27, 2016, that most certainly compared Trump to Hitler, albeit in a subtle and underhanded way.

Pro-gun groups praise Gorsuch pick: 'Trump has kept his word'

Also from the Washington Examiner

Meanwhile, groups that support gun control restrictions reacted with caution.

02/01/17 4:26 PM

“Hitler was known, among colleagues, for a ‘bottomless mendacity’ that would later be magnified by a slick propaganda machine that used the latest technology (radio, gramophone records, film) to spread his message,” one bullet point reads.

The Third Reich leader was also an “egomaniac” who “rose to power through demagoguery, showmanship and nativist appeals to the masses,” whose “manic speeches and penchant for taking all-or-nothing risks raised questions about his capacity for self-control.” Hitler was also a leader who convinced millions to embrace “his doctrine of hatred.”

It doesn’t take a genius to see what’s going on here.

Anyway, it’s a total mystery why Trump hasn’t sent the Times an autographed portrait. The newspaper, for its part, sounded kind of bummed about it.

“Though President-elect Trump has visited the boardroom, the White House has not sent out an official portrait. Given Mr. Trump’s love-hate relationship with The Times, it’s impossible to predict what he may say in his note. If he says anything at all,” the article read.

Anti-abortion groups target vulnerable Democrats on Supreme Court pick

Also from the Washington Examiner

Groups want to mobilize activists to conduct phone and email campaigns of key Democrats in the vote.

02/01/17 4:11 PM

“If he even sends a picture to fill the empty space on the credenza,” it added.

President Trump attends return of Navy SEAL killed in Yemen

Top Story

President Trump and his daughter Ivanka departed the White House for Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Wednesday afternoon to witness the arrival of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed during an intelligence gathering raid in Yemen last weekend.

Owens, a member of the Navy’s SEAL Team Six, was killed in a clandestine raid at an al Qaeda facility that Trump had authorized early Sunday morning. The operation left four additional U.S. service members wounded and marked the first military fatality under the new administration.

Trump, who was to be joined by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., upon arriving at Dover, had a “very somber and lengthy” conversation with Owens’ family on Tuesday.

02/01/17 3:38 PM



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Retailers create group to oppose House GOP tax plan


Retailers have created a new group meant to oppose House Republicans’ plans to adjust taxes at the border, a reform that could raise taxes on retailers’ imports and is proving to be an early obstacle in the GOP effort to overhaul the tax code.

Led by major corporations such as Walmart, Walgreens and Nike, a group of more than 120 businesses and trade groups announced Wednesday the creation of a national campaign against the border adjustment, called Americans for Affordable Products.

The new organization, complete with website and social media presence, represents increasingly entrenched opposition to the Republican tax plan from retailers that could see their taxes rise in the reform proposal. Other industries that would benefit from the reform have yet to reach that level of organization.

House Republicans have proposed taxing imports as part of a broader corporate rate-cutting reform that would tax goods based on where they are sold. In the plan, companies no longer would be allowed to deduct the cost of imported goods and services but would no longer pay any taxes on revenue from exports. In the current system, U.S. companies are taxed on all profits, whether they are earned in the U.S. or abroad. Republicans say the change would encourage more manufacturing within the U.S. and discourage companies from moving production overseas.

While retailers would strongly favor lower tax rates, they are concerned about that aspect of the overall tax package. In a statement, Retail Industry Leaders Association Sandy Kennedy said that “the border adjustable tax is harmful, untested and would put American retail jobs at risk and force consumers to pay as much as 20 percent more for family essentials.”

Advocates of the tax plan assert that the dollar would strengthen in response to the border adjustment. So while they would be paying more tax in taxes on imported goods, those dollars would have proportionately greater purchasing power.

DeVos nomination in trouble after two GOP senators defy Trump

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Collins called the decision “very difficult.”

02/01/17 2:01 PM



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DeVos nomination in trouble after two GOP senators say they oppose her


Betsy DeVos’ nomination to be the next education secretary was in serious trouble Wednesday, after two Senate Republicans said they would vote against her.

Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, both said they would vote against her.

The two lost GOP votes could put DeVos at risk of being the first of President Trump’s nominees not to be confirmed. The defections mean the most she could win is 50 votes from Republicans, and if she gets no support from Democrats, Vice President Mike Pence would have to vote in favor of her to break a 50-50 tie.

Losing another GOP senator would likely doom her nomination. But when asked if the White House had any worries that she won’t be confirmed, spokesman Sean Spicer said, “zero.”

“I am 100 percent confident she will be the next secretary of education,” he said. “I think the games that are being played with Betsy DeVos are sad.”

“This is not a decision that I have made lightly,” Collins said. “I have a great deal of respect for Mrs. DeVos. I believe that she is a good person. I know that she cares deeply about the children of this nation. But for the reasons that I will explain, I simply cannot support her confirmation.”

“The mission of the Department of Education is fraught, but supporting public education is at its core. I’m concerned that Mrs. DeVos’s lack of experience with public schools will make it difficult for her to fully understand, identify and assist with those challenges, particularly for our rural schools.”

On the Senate floor, Murkowski said she “cannot support this nominee.”

Gabby Morrongiello contributed

Trump to meet with Harley-Davidson executives in Washington

Also from the Washington Examiner

White House had canceled a trip by Trump to Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee.

02/01/17 2:31 PM

Trump interrupts meeting with black supporters to blast CNN

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Trump’s jab at CNN comes hours after the administration barred officials from appearing on the network.

02/01/17 11:25 AM



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Trump tweets group photo of 'moment of prayer' after Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination


Trump honored Maureen Scalia during his announcement of Neil Gorsuch. (Image courtesy screenshot)

President Trump on Wednesday tweeted a photo of a group moment prayer after he announced the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.

Among those pictured in the huddle are Trump; his sons Donald Jr. and Eric; Vice President Mike Pence; second lady Karen Pence; Chief of Staff Reince Priebus; Gorsuch and his wife Louise; and from the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s family, his widow Maureen Scalia and son Paul, a Catholic priest.

Trump honored Maureen Scalia during his announcement of Gorsuch, calling her “the ultimate representative” of her late husband.

Trump urges McConnell to 'go nuclear' if needed for Supreme Court nominee

Top Story

“If we end up with that gridlock, I would say if you can, Mitch, go nuclear,” said President Trump.

02/01/17 12:09 PM

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Insurers lay out their Obamacare repeal-and-replace requests


Insurance industry chief Marilyn Tavenner Wednesday morning laid out insurers’ most specific and pointed requests yet as Congress works to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Tavenner, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, asked senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to keep providing insurers with all of the law’s subsidies, as well extra payments shielding them from losses — at least in the short term. She warned that if they don’t, they risk destabilizing the individual insurance market, prompting higher premiums and fewer choices for consumers.

But that’s not all Congress needs to do, Tavenner said.

“While these policies are critically important, they by themselves are not sufficient to ensure a stable and workable transition for consumers and patients,” Tavenner said. “This is especially the case if the requirement to have insurance or pay a tax penalty is eliminated this year without workable alternatives to promote continuous coverage and market stability.”

She laid out a list of additional recommendations for encouraging more insurance buying among young people, who haven’t flocked to the marketplaces as advocates for the Affordable Care Act had hoped. She especially stressed that if Congress is going to eliminate the individual mandate to buy insurance — as Republicans have vowed to do — they must find other ways to encourage healthy people to buy coverage.

According to Tavenner, Congress should also:

— Change the “age bands” ratio governing the premiums insurers can charge young people relative to older people. Right now, the ratio is 3 to 1, but Tavenner wants it changed to 5 to 1.

— If they’re going to eliminate the individual mandate, then require people to have continuous coverage.

— Set up risk pools for the highest-risk patients.

Senate panel approves Sessions' AG nomination

Also from the Washington Examiner

As expected, Republicans and Democrats split on his controversial nomination.

02/01/17 11:33 AM

— Repeal the healthcare law’s taxes, including its Health Insurance Tax, or HIT.

— Improve how eligibility is verified for people signing up for marketplace plans.

Tavenner also laid out some insurer priorities for the long term. Congress should provide tax credits to ensure lower-income Americans can afford coverage, give states more flexibility in how they run their marketplaces, permanently change the age bands, and require people to have continuous coverage to make sure they don’t just sign up when they get sick, she said.

Democrats tell colleagues to give Neil Gorsuch a chance

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“I don’t think we ought to respond in a tit for tat way,” said Sen. Chris Coons said.

02/01/17 8:20 AM



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Hillary Clinton to write book about election loss


Hillary Clinton will write a book reflecting on her loss in the 2016 election to President Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Hillary Clinton will write a book reflecting on her loss in the 2016 election to President Trump and will soon return to the paid speaking circuit.

The book, slated for publication in the fall, will contain a collection of personal essays, her publishing company announced on Wednesday. Clinton said she will draw from “words I live by” in her essays, using her favorite quotations as inspiration for various reflections on her life.

Clinton will also begin delivering paid speeches again. On the campaign trail, she weathered fierce criticism for accepting six-figure sums in exchange for speeches that occasionally contradicted positions she claimed to hold while running for president.

Transcripts of the most controversial paid speeches were leaked after hackers infiltrated the inbox of her campaign chairman, John Podesta.

Clinton also will be giving the commencement speech in June at her alma mater, Wellesley College, according to the school’s newspaper.

Democrats tell colleagues to give Neil Gorsuch a chance

Top Story

“I don’t think we ought to respond in a tit for tat way,” said Sen. Chris Coons said.

02/01/17 8:20 AM

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Democrat wants 3.2 percent pay hike for federal workers


Rep. Gerry Connolly on Tuesday reintroduced legislation aimed at giving federal workers a 3.2 percent pay raise, even as the Trump administration is looking to cut federal spending and reduce the government workforce.

The Virginia Democrat said that even before President Trump, Republicans had “bullied” federal workers by blocking raises. Federal employees received no raises for a few years early in the Obama administration, and only recently were given raises of just 1 or 2 percent for the last few years.

“For too long Republicans have bullied our federal workforce, falsely painting the civil servant as the scapegoat for all our country’s problems,” he said. “They’ve endured shutdowns and furloughs, attacks on pay and benefits, and an across-the-board hiring freeze.”

His bill, the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act, or the FAIR Act, calls for a 3.2 percent raise because workers sought a 5.3 percent raise last year, but only got a 2.1 percent raise. Connolly’s bill would make up for that difference.

Connolly said the raise wouldn’t just affect people in the Washington, D.C., area.

“Contrary to alternative facts, 85 percent of the federal workforce live and work outside the national capital region,” he said.

His bill has almost no chance of moving in the GOP-controlled House, where Republican leaders have had no interest in boosting federal pay.

The Trump administration has also signaled it wants to tighten the belt further. Trump’s team is eyeing cuts as high as 10 percent in some federal agencies, and staffing cuts as high as 20 percent.

Democrats tell colleagues to give Gorsuch a chance

Also from the Washington Examiner

“I don’t think we ought to respond in a tit for tat way,” said Sen. Chris Coons said.

02/01/17 8:20 AM

Dems escalate anti-Trump offensive after Neil Gorsuch announcement

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Democrats across the country are stepping up what some call “The Resistance” to President Trump.

01/31/17 10:36 PM



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