Friday, February 28, 2020

Sidelining Scientists Can Only Make COVID-19 Worse...

Choosing Democracy: Sidelining Scientists Can Only Make COVID-19 Worse...: Sidelining Scientists Can Only Make COVID-19 Worse Michael Halpern February 28, 2020 Scientific American We need to hear about the r...

How Trump and Fox See the Coronavirus

Matt Gertz
February 27, 2020
Media Matters for America
The hours of Fox coverage Trump watches each day shape his worldview -- and direct his often inchoate rage

Public health officials are struggling to contain the novel coronavirus COVID-19, which has now spread to at least 47 countries. The Centers for Disease Control is warning that it expects to see an expanded outbreak in the United States and is planning for a worldwide pandemic. In addition to the substantial health risks posed by the disease, the interconnected nature of global supply chains means that the epidemic could spur an economic crisis. Careful leadership is needed from the president of the United States, who must manage a complex interagency and international process, mustering the nation’s resources and expertise to limit the damage.

But at this delicate moment, the feedback loop between Fox News and President Donald Trump is powering the president’s response. The network hosts who influence Trump the most are fixating his attention on Democrats and the media, who they claim are deliberately politicizing coronavirus in order to damage his reelection campaign. And Trump is apparently listening to them and is spouting the same talking points.

Trump is ignorant, incompetent, and generally uninterested in the aspects of his job that don’t involve promoting his narrow personal interests. His response to coronavirus has not diverged from this baseline. He spent the last few years systematically dismantling U.S. pandemic response capabilities, dissolving the National Security Council’s global health security unit and slashing funding to the CDC’s global health section. And since the coronavirus outbreak began, Trump has been largely detached from managing the government’s response.

Trump’s Fox propagandists spent the early weeks of the outbreak praising his purported success at “constraining” its spread. But after stocks fell dramatically on Monday and Tuesday amid fears of a global pandemic, they needed a new angle. And so Fox personalities began lashing out at journalists for their coverage of coronavirus and at Democrats for their criticism of the administration.

“Sadly, the left is already, yup, politicizing tragedy,” host and close Trump ally Sean Hannity said on Tuesday night, hammering Senate Democrats for saying that the administration had sought too little funding to deal with the mounting crisis.

“Watching the media coverage today, it seemed like some of the Trump haters were actually relishing in this moment,” Laura Ingraham said on her show the following hour. “A new avenue it was, coronavirus, that is a new pathway for hitting President Trump. How sick that these people seem almost happiest when Americans are hurting.”

“It is absolutely disgusting that Democrats are seeking to use this complex virus to score cheap political points,” she added.

Trump was apparently watching -- he tweeted a quote from a different segment of the same Ingraham broadcast -- and taking notes. On Wednesday morning, he went after the media and Democrats on Twitter.

Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape! @CDCgov.....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2020

Trump lavished praise on himself and his administration while attacking congressional Democratic leaders for criticizing the response during a press conference on the coronavirus outbreak that night.

Fox got the message. Its hosts and personalities targeted the media and Democrats for their treatment of coronavirus throughout Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

President Trump's Fox propagandists are focusing him on the real danger from coronavirus: Democrats and journalists politicizing it in order to damage his re-election campaign.

— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) February 27, 2020

This is dangerous. The hours of Fox coverage Trump watches each day shape his worldview -- and direct his often inchoate rage. The potential global crisis on his doorstep does not appear to be slowing his consumption of propagandistic cable news content. As we’ve seen so many times before, he is getting distracted by his television, which is encouraging him to carry out his worst impulses.

The attacks on the press, long a staple of Trump and Fox, are particularly concerning now. The American public needs trustworthy information about the coronavirus outbreak in order to make good decisions about how to respond to it. And the president is telling people that they can’t trust news outlets that aren’t in the tank for his administration, warning that those journalists will deliberately overstate the danger in order to hurt his reelection chances. That’s a recipe for disaster.

And things can still get worse. Some pro-Trump commentators, including conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, have argued that the top CDC official who warned that a larger U.S. outbreak was inevitable is a deep-state plant who is trying to take down Trump. Fox hosts have largely steered clear of those conspiracy theories thus far. But what happens if the situation worsens, and the Fox Cabinet starts telling the president that he needs to purge the public health bureaucracy of anti-Trump traitors?

Video by John Kerr

Matt Gertz is a senior fellow at Media Matters, which he joined in 2007. His work focuses on the relationship between Fox News and the Trump administration, news coverage of politics and elections, and media ethics. Matt's writing on the Trump-Fox feedback loop has appeared in The Daily Beast, HuffPost, and Politico Magazine, and he has discussed his analysis on MSNBC, NPR, and Comedy Central. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Columbia University. Matt is married to Washington Post opinion writer Alyssa Rosenberg.

Donald Trump and the Virus

The Virus Has Claimed Its First American Victim. That would be Donald J. Trump. Because it vividly displays the limits of Trump’s master strategy of bullshitting.

It’s one thing to disdain science when the consequences are remote and indirect; another when the result is a country unprepared for an escalating epidemic that puts even your truest believers at risk.

It’s one thing to fire public officials who are following their constitutional duties on national security or administration of justice for insufficient personal loyalty. It’s another to threaten, much less fire, the few competent leaders left at the Centers for Disease Control for not following Trump’s strategy of downplaying the health risks and leaving the country even more vulnerable to the coronavirus threat.

Trump has already sidelined the industry-afflicted but competent secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, as a fearmonger for accurately taking the epidemic seriously—in favor of Mike Pence. Jesus wept!

As the risks of the virus and the costs of Trump’s swaggering incompetence become more and more vividly in evidence, the gap between his efforts to deal with the crisis through better messaging and the grim reality will become ever more palpable.

One key difference between, say, global climate change and the coronavirus epidemic is that climate denial has a big constituency of corporations and people who benefit from denial. That includes the oil and gas industries, people who work in them, and ordinary Americans too complacent to change consumption habits.

But there is no constituency that benefits from virus denial. Except maybe undertakers.

Between now and November, the blunders in America’s woeful lack of preparedness will be rightly laid at Trump’s door: the funding cuts in the CDC and other health agencies; the loss of key science and health officials; the failure to have a master plan; grim details such as the recently disclosed dispatching of federal health workers to treat quarantined patients on military bases, inadequately trained and protected, and returning on commercial flights.

The more he tries to bullshit his way out of it, the more the true costs of Trump’s dictatorship will be revealed for all to see. As Barack Obama might have said, the virus doesn’t distinguish between red states and blue states. It menaces the United States. This will be the signal, defining issue in November. ROBERT KUTTNER

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Trump's Lack of Credibility is Dangerous to Our Health

CNN Business

New York (CNN Business)Since the dawn of the Trump presidency, countless experts have warned that the president's lack of credibility would imperil the country in the event of an emergency.

With the worsening coronavirus outbreak, those fears may be coming true.

President Trump's political allies have made overly optimistic statements only to be contradicted by the government's top scientists and doctors. For example, Trump claimed on Monday that the coronavirus was "very much under control in the USA." A day later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the virus' spread to the US was inevitable. He said the stock market is "starting to look very good" even as the Dow was nosediving amid coronavirus anxiety.

And the president has been blaming the media for this predicament, reverting to the same tactics that he has employed ever since taking office.

On Wednesday, in a widely-criticized tweet, he claimed that CNN and MSNBC "are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible."
He misspelled coronavirus and the typo is still visible on his Twitter profile more than eight hours later.

But misspelling the name of the virus is the least of the government's problems. President Trump has systematically undermined trust in the media and other institutions that play important roles in public health emergencies. He has explicitly said not to trust sources that he doesn't personally approve.

He has engaged in what several columnists have called a "war on expertise." Scientists have been among those adversely affected. Last December an investigation by The New York Times concluded that science is "under attack" by Trump appointees.

"Trump's disdain for science and his cuts to science and public health programs have subverted preparedness for emergencies like the coronavirus," said Michiko Kakutani, the famous literary critic and author of "The Death of Truth."

National Weather Service instructed officials to focus on Dorian forecasts after Trump claims

Trump has also contradicted accurate information from government agencies, like the National Weather Service, as when he insisted that Alabama was threatened by a hurricane last year. The so-called Sharpiegate caused anger and consternation inside the federal agencies responsible for weather forecasting.

Now health agencies like the CDC are in the spotlight. High-minded warnings about breakdowns in trust and the death of truth have more impact when deaths from the coronavirus are being reported every day.

"When you learn you have a dangerous disease, you need to be able to trust your doctor. When entire populations face a dangerous public health crisis, they need to be able to trust their governments," Dr. Leana S. Wen, a visiting professor at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed last month.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

MSNBC's Chris Matthews Epitomizes Corporate Democrats' Bernie Derangement Syndrome

MSNBC's Chris Matthews Epitomizes Corporate Democrats' Bernie Derangement Syndrome

Trump Makes Massive Cuts in Funds For Emergency Health Crises- Like the Coronavirus

Feb 24, 2020
Lawmakers have been skeptical. The president’s budget request for the fiscal year that begins in October would slash the C.D.C.’s budget by almost 16 percent, and the Health and Human Services Department’s by almost 10 percent. Tens of millions of dollars would come from the department’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response and its Hospital Preparedness Program, which helps hospitals handle surges of patients during disease outbreaks.
The administration also proposed cutting more than $85 million from the C.D.C.’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. The center directly works on outbreaks like the coronavirus, which is believed to have emerged from live animals in Wuhan, China.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, the Trump administration had already narrowed its epidemic work in countries around the world. Its latest budget request included $3 billion in cuts to global health programs, including a 53 percent cut to the World Health Organization and a 75 percent cut to the Pan American Health Organization.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

SCUSD Not Insolvent- It Just Can't Count

Choosing Democracy: SCUSD Not Insolvent- It Just Can't Count: Sacramento City Unified says  due to its own financial crisis it will need to lay off 50 certificated employees ( teachers, counselors,...

Friday, February 14, 2020

How Misinformation Serves Trump

“Flood the zone with shit”: How misinformation overwhelmed our democracy

The impeachment trial didn’t change any minds. Here’s why.

By Sean Updated Feb 6, 2020, 9:27am EST

On Wednesday, the Senate voted to acquit President Trump of charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice.

Despite all the incontrovertible facts at the center of this story, it was always inevitable that this process would change very few minds. No matter how clear a case the Democrats made, it was always highly likely that no single version of the truth was ever going to be accepted.

This fact underscores a serious problem for our democratic culture. No amount of evidence, on virtually any topic, is likely to move public opinion one way or the other. We can attribute some of this to rank partisanship — some people simply refuse to acknowledge inconvenient facts about their own side.

But there’s another, equally vexing problem. We live in a media ecosystem that overwhelms people with information. Some of that information is accurate, some of it is bogus, and much of it is intentionally misleading. The result is a polity that has increasingly given up on finding out the truth. As Sabrina Tavernise and Aidan Gardiner put it in a New York Times piece, “people are numb and disoriented, struggling to discern what is real in a sea of slant, fake, and fact.” This is partly why an earth-shattering historical event like a president’s impeachment did very little to move public opinion.

The core challenge we’re facing today is information saturation and a hackable media system. If you follow politics at all, you know how exhausting the environment is. The sheer volume of content, the dizzying number of narratives and counternarratives, and the pace of the news cycle are too much for anyone to process.

One response to this situation is to walk away and tune everything out. After all, it takes real effort to comb through the bullshit, and most people have busy lives and limited bandwidth. Another reaction is to retreat into tribal allegiances. There’s Team Liberal and Team Conservative, and pretty much everyone knows which side they’re on. So you stick to the places that feed you the information you most want to hear.

My Vox colleague Dave Roberts calls this an “epistemic crisis.” The foundation for shared truth, he argues, has collapsed. I don’t disagree with that, but I’d frame the problem a little differently.

We’re in an age of manufactured nihilism.

The issue for many people isn’t exactly a denial of truth as such. It’s more a growing weariness over the process of finding the truth at all. And that weariness leads more and more people to abandon the idea that the truth is knowable.

I call this “manufactured” because it’s the consequence of a deliberate strategy. It was distilled almost perfectly by Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News and chief strategist for Donald Trump. “The Democrats don’t matter,” Bannon reportedly said in 2018. “The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.”

This idea isn’t new, but Bannon articulated it about as well as anyone can. The press ideally should sift fact from fiction and give the public the information it needs to make enlightened political choices. If you short-circuit that process by saturating the ecosystem with misinformation and overwhelm the media’s ability to mediate, then you can disrupt the democratic process.

What we’re facing is a new form of propaganda that wasn’t really possible until the digital age. And it works not by creating a consensus around any particular narrative but by muddying the waters so that consensus isn’t achievable.

Bannon’s political objective is clear. As he explained in a 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference talk, he sees Trump as a stick of dynamite with which to blow up the status quo. So “flooding the zone” is a means to that end. But more generally, creating widespread cynicism about the truth and the institutions charged with unearthing it erodes the very foundation of liberal democracy. And the strategy is working.

What flooding the zone actually means

For most of recent history, the goal of propaganda was to reinforce a consistent narrative. But zone-flooding takes a different approach: It seeks to disorient audiences with an avalanche of competing stories.

And it produces a certain nihilism in which people are so skeptical about the possibility of finding the truth that they give up the search. The fact that 60 percent of Americans say they encounter conflicting reports about the same event is an example of what I mean. In the face of such confusion, it’s not surprising that less than half the country trusts what they read in the press.

Bannon articulated the zone-flooding philosophy well, but he did not invent it. In our time, it was pioneered by Vladimir Putin in post-Soviet Russia. Putin uses the media to engineer a fog of disinformation, producing just enough distrust to ensure that the public can never mobilize around a coherent narrative.

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears onscreen during a press conference in Moscow on December 19, 2019. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

In October, I spoke to Peter Pomerantsev, a Soviet-born reality TV producer turned academic who wrote a book about Putin’s propaganda strategy. The goal, he told me, wasn’t to sell an ideology or a vision of the future; instead, it was to convince people that “the truth is unknowable” and that the only sensible choice is “to follow a strong leader.”

One major reason for the strategy’s success, both in the US and Russia, is that it coincided with a moment when the technological and political conditions were in place for it to thrive. Media fragmentation, the explosion of the internet, political polarization, curated timelines, and echo chambers — all of this allows a “flood the zone with shit” strategy to work.

The role of “gatekeeping” institutions has also changed significantly. Before the internet and social media, most people got their news from a handful of newspapers and TV networks. These institutions functioned like referees, calling out lies, fact-checking claims, and so on. And they had the ability to control the flow of information and set the terms of the conversation.

Today, gatekeepers still matter in terms of setting a baseline for political knowledge, but there’s much more competition for clicks and audiences, and that alters the incentives for what’s declared newsworthy in the first place. At the same time, traditional media outlets remain committed to a set of norms that are ill adapted to the modern environment. The preference for objectivity in political coverage, in particular, is a problem.

As Joshua Green, who wrote a biography of Bannon, explained, Bannon’s lesson from the Clinton impeachment in the 1990s was that to shape the narrative, a story had to move beyond the right-wing echo chamber and into the mainstream media. That’s exactly what happened with the now-debunked Uranium One story that dogged Clinton from the beginning of her campaign — a story Bannon fed to the Times, knowing that the supposedly liberal paper would run with it because that’s what mainstream media news organizations do.

In this case, Bannon flooded the zone with a ridiculous story not necessarily to persuade the public that it was true (although surely plenty of people bought into it) but to create a cloud of corruption around Clinton. And the mainstream press, merely by reporting a story the way it always has, helped create that cloud.

You see this dynamic at work daily on cable news. Trump White House adviser Kellyanne Conway lies. She lies a lot. Yet CNN and MSNBC have shown zero hesitation in giving her a platform to lie because they see their job as giving government officials — even ones who lie — a platform.

Even if CNN or MSNBC debunk Conway’s lies, the damage will be done. Fox and right-wing media will amplify her and other falsehoods; armies on social media, bot and real, will, too (@realDonaldTrump will no doubt chime in). The mainstream press will be a step behind in debunking — and even the act of debunking will serve to amplify the lies.

UC Berkeley linguist George Lakoff calls this the “framing effect.” As Lakoff puts it, if you say “don’t think of an elephant,” you can’t help but think of an elephant. In other words, even if you reject an argument, merely repeating it cements the frame in people’s minds. Debunking it is still useful, of course, but there’s a cost to dignifying it in the first place.

There is some research that points to the utility of fact-checking. Political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler have shown that repeated exposure to fact-checking does tend to increase the accuracy of beliefs. But the issue with zone-flooding is an overabundance of news, which diminishes the importance of any individual story, no matter how big or damning.

In this environment, there are often too many things happening at once; it’s a constant game of whack-a-mole for journalists. And we know that false claims, if they’re repeated enough, become more plausible the more often they’re shared, something psychologists have called the “illusory truth” effect. Our brains, it turns out, tend to associate repetition with truthfulness. Some interesting new research, moreover, found that the more people encounter information the more likely they are to feel justified in spreading it, whether it’s true or not.

Flooding the zone, polarization, and why many people still don’t know what Trump did

This all intersects with political polarization in troubling ways. One consequence of pervasive confusion about what’s happening is that people feel more comfortable siding with their political tribe. If everything’s up for grabs, and it’s hard to sift through the competing narratives to find the truth, then there’s nothing left but culture war politics. There’s “us” and “them,” and the possibility of persuasion is off the table.

It’s worth noting that this polarization is asymmetric. The left overwhelmingly receives its news from organizations like the New York Times, the Washington Post, or cable news networks like MSNBC or CNN. Some of the reporting is surely biased, and probably biased in favor of liberals, but it’s still (mostly) anchored to basic journalistic ethics.

As a recent book by three Harvard researchers explains, this just isn’t true of the right. American conservative media functions like a closed system, with Fox News at the center. Right-wing outlets are less tethered to conventional journalistic ethics and exist mostly to propagate the bullshit they produce.

All this has created an atmosphere that has helped Trump. The Trump administration was remarkably successful at muddying the waters on Ukraine and impeachment, and Republicans in Congress helped by parroting the administration’s talking points.

Reps. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Louie Gohmert (R-TX) look on as fellow Republicans speak to the press after the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment against President Trump on December 13, 2019. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The fact is, Trump did what Democrats have accused him of doing. We know, with absolute certainty, that the president tried to get a foreign government to investigate a family member of one of his political rivals. And we know this because of the witnesses who testifiedbefore the House Intelligence Committee and because Trump’s own White House released a record of the call proving it.

Yet all the polling data we have suggests that public opinion on Trump and Ukraine basically held steady. Again, some of this is pure partisan recalcitrance. But there’s good reason to believe that the right’s muddying of the waters — making the story about Ukraine and Hunter Biden, pushing out conspiracy theories, repeatedly trumpeting Trump’s own version of events, etc. — played a role.

The issue is that the coverage of the trials, in both the mainstream press and right-wing outlets, ensured that these counternarratives are part of the public conversation. It added to the general atmosphere of doubt and confusion. And that’s why zone flooding presents a near-insoluble problem for the press.

The old model is broken

The way impeachment played out underscores just how the new media ecosystem is a problem for our democracy.

It helps to think of zone-flooding less as a strategy deployed by a person or group and more as a natural consequence of the way media works.

We don’t need a master puppeteer pulling the media’s strings. The race for content, the need for clicks, is more than enough. Bannon or Conway can shake things up by feeding nonsense into the system.

Fox & Friends hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Pete Hegseth interview former US Army Lt. Clint Lorance on November 18, 2019. John Lamparski/Getty Images

Trump can dictate an entire news cycle with a few unhinged tweets or an absurd press conference. The media cycle is easily commandeered by misinformation, innuendo, and outrageous content. These are problems because of the norms that govern journalism and because the political economy of media makes it very hard to ignore or dispel bullshit stories.This is at the root of our nihilism problem, and a solution is nowhere in sight.

The instinct of the mainstream press has always been to conquer lies by exposing them. But it’s just not that simple anymore (if it ever was). There are too many claims to debunk and too many conflicting narratives. And the decision to cover something is a decision to amplify it and, in some cases, normalize it.

We probably need a paradigm shift in how the press covers politics. Nearly all of the incentives driving media militate against this kind of rethinking, however. And so we’re likely stuck with this problem for a very long time.

As is often the case, the diagnosis is much easier than the cure. But liberal democracy cannot function without a shared understanding of reality. As long as the zone is flooded with shit, that shared understanding is impossible.



Hedge Funds Take Over Sacramento Bee

Financial Engineers Ravage American Newspapers—McClatchy’s Turn. 
Friday’s news reports played the story as McClatchy filing for bankruptcy. But that’s not the deeper story. The venerable chain, publisher of The Sacramento BeeMiami Herald, and 28 other papers, is doing a deal with a hedge fund, Chatham Asset Management, which also owns supermarket tabloids.

The first part of the complex deal entails putting McClatchy into bankruptcy, so that it can shed a lot of its debt, notably the costs of its $1.4 billion worker pension fund. That makes it a more attractive property for Chatham, which can then acquire McClatchy for a lower cost.

The takeover of American newspapers by financial engineers is now pervasive. The exceptions are The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalThe Washington PostThe Boston Globe, and a few others, with either national franchises or ownership by arguably benign billionaires like Jeff Bezos of Amazon of the Post and Globe owner John Henry (who in his civic role as owner of the Boston Red Sox just traded Mookie Betts!). 

But for the rest, mainly regional papers, hedge funds, and private equity companies are not in business to benefit communities. They exist to maximize profits by milking the companies they take over. Inevitably, they do this by loading up their acquired properties with debt, cutting newsroom staff to the bone, and impoverishing the civic role of the local press.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

At New Hampshire Rally, Sanders Calls on 7,500+ Supporters to 'Transform America' on Primary Day

At New Hampshire Rally, Sanders Calls on 7,500+ Supporters to 'Transform America' on Primary Day

Sanders Wins New Hampshire.

Poll. Bernie Beats Trump

Harold Meyerson,

Socialism? Capitalism? Whatever. “’Tis the final conflict,’” the chorus to the global socialist anthem “The International” begins. Socialism versus capitalism, socialism overturning capitalism, the mother of all systemic conflicts, the ultimate heavyweight brawl. And in no capitalist country has the complete diametric opposition between these two ways of life been driven home more than here in the Good Old USA. As in Harlan County, so in America at large: There are no neutrals here.

And then came yesterday’s Quinnipiac Poll.

The headlined news was that Bernie Sanders had taken the lead for the first time in a nationwide poll of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. He was the preferred candidate of 25 percent, while Joe Biden had dropped to 17 percent, Mike Bloomberg had risen to 15 percent, Elizabeth Warren stood at 14 percent, Pete Buttigieg was at 10 percent, and Amy Klobuchar at 4 percent. All subject to change, of course, after today’s New Hampshire primary.

But the poll also measured the responses of voters of all parties and none when it pitted each of those Democratic candidates against President Trump. Here are the results for the two Democrats who came out best:

Capitalist Bloomberg beat Trump by 51 percent to 42 percent.

Socialist Sanders beat Trump by 51 percent to 43 percent.

Okay, so maybe we have this final conflict business wrong, at least for this year. Socialist? Capitalist? Prohibitionist? WTF! BFD! So long as they beat Trump! ~ HAROLD MEYERSON

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Trump's Lies

  • President Trump is speaking to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, a day before the Senate is expected to acquit him in his impeachment trial. A team of New York Times reporters who cover the economy, national security, health care and more are listening and fact-checking his claims as he speaks.
  • Mr. Trump has regularly been exaggerating and inaccurately portraying elements of his record, including that the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement will create nearly 100,000 auto jobs (false), that the administration has sought to always protect Medicare and Social Security(misleading) and that there is a blue-collar boom(needs context).
  • Among those in attendance in the House chamber on Tuesday night were the opposition leader Juan Guaidó, whom Mr. Trump singled out as the “true and legitimate president” of Venezuela, and the conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who received a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Catch up on the key moments

This is misleading.

So-called sanctuary city policies vary by location. In most of the cities, local politicians direct police departments not to transfer undocumented immigrants suspected or charged with crimes to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But such suspects are not automatically released into the public unless they were to make bail.

This is mostly true.

The “Medicare for all” bills co-sponsored by many Democratic lawmakers would provide government health benefits to all “residents” of the country, a group that appears to include undocumented immigrants. The bill also specifies that coverage will not be denied to residents on the basis of “citizenship status.” Whether this aspect of the bill would bankrupt the country is more questionable. The Medicare for all bills are expected to requirelarge increases in federal spending, but the coverage of undocumented immigrants would represent a small fraction of that spending.

More to come.