April 22, 2018

HANNITY'S UNNECESSARY DISCLOSURE EXPOSURE

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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2018

HANNITY'S UNNECESSARY EXPOSURE DISCLOSURE
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I hate going against the grain. (Actually, I love going against the grain.) I hate the condemnation I get when I do (actually, I love that, too) -- particularly when it comes from colleagues who are stumbling all over themselves to criticize broadcaster Sean Hannity for not disclosing his lawyer-client relationship with Donald Trump’s consigliere, Michael Cohen.
I genuinely do hate defending Hannity. I’m among the multitudes who think he’s the worst of the many Fox News shills for Trump. Generally speaking, if Sean is for something, I’m opposed. As usual, I strongly disagreed with his virulent attacks on the feds for raiding Cohen’s properties, even before it was revealed that Hannity had his own dealings with Cohen. He decided not to disclose that association during his tirades, and when it was made known, the media lemmings piled on in full schadenfreude. “How could he?” they bleated; fie on Sean Hannity for not admitting that he and Cohen were a business item!
OK, fellow proud purveyors of fake news. This time, I believe your fake sanctimony is showing. How many of us go to various social events with newsmakers? How many are represented in contract negotiations by the people whose job it is to do that? These same lawyers, agents, etc., get involved in politics or have other clients whom we cover. To be ultra careful, if I’m calling someone I know personally, I’ll declare first thing whether it is social or business. But it would get unwieldy if I stopped to do a disclaimer each time I was reporting, particularly when the honor-among-Washington-thieves creed has it that friendship is set aside when coverage begins. That’s why Harry Truman said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” Sean Hannity operates out of dog-eat-dog New York, but the same rule applies. Many of those who are now stomping Hannity should remember that.
Besides, how open must we be? Should play-by-play announcers who are total “homers” publicly admit that, in many cases, they serve at the pleasure of their team owners? Should newscasters point out that they’re doing a puff piece on an actor or actress because his or her show appears on their networks?

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April 17, 2018

MISSIONS ONGOING

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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, APRIL 17, 2018

MISSIONS ONGOING
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“Um ... I would have recommended ending this tweet with not those two words.” That was a weekend comment from former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer. And Ari knows from “Missions Accomplished.” In May of 2003, President Bush stood under a banner with those very words to celebrate a victorious “shock and awe” military operation in Iraq. His choreographed-for-TV victory lap on the deck of an aircraft carrier was tragically premature, as evidenced by thousands upon thousands of American dead and wounded. And that’s before counting the massive toll in Iraq’s civilians who were killed.
Donald Trump, as is so often the case, is oblivious to the lessons of history -- lessons of almost anything, actually. Still, he and the grown-ups around him were able to launch their slap-on-the-wrist missile shower response to Bashar Assad’s latest evil gas attack on his own people. They pulled it off without immediate embarrassment. That was enough for POTUS to crow via Twitter about “A perfectly executed strike ... Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!”
Syria is even more complex than Iraq, and The Donald even less able to deal with complexity than W was. Still, that may qualify as his least ridiculous tweet of the week, a week where federal investigators seem to be tightening the vise while his antagonist, James Comey, started publicizing his memoir, “A Higher Loyalty.”
While typical Jim Comey sanctimony, the book doesn’t disappoint, certainly if you’re not a fan of Trump. Comey takes several digs as he recounts his various meetings with President Trump. For instance, he likens him to a mafia don (or Donald, I suppose). Just about everybody’s favorite tirade tweets were the ones where the president of the United States repeatedly labeled Comey a “slimeball.”
But Comey-The-Insulter wasn’t even the most troublesome of his slimeballs They would have to be the federal investigators who raided the home, office, hotel room and a safety deposit box of Trump’s longtime attorney/fixer/enforcer Michael Cohen. The prosecutors were seeking anything and everything to do with years of Cohen’s wheelings and dealings not only on behalf of Donald Trump, but also on behalf of Michael Cohen;, and. oh yeah, Donald Trump Fox shill Sean Hannity. Cohen is the one who admits putting together the hush-money packages designed to silence Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. For Hannity--who knows?
We can see how well that worked with Stormy and Karen: They are shouting from the PR rooftops their allegations they had sexual affairs with Trump. Daniels, the porn star, says hers was a one-nighter; McDougal, the Playboy Bunny, says hers lasted several months. With Hannity Hannity, who knows? Trump, the president and, might I add, husband, denies the Daniels-McDougal accusations.

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April 14, 2018

RYAN ESCAPES

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2018

RYAN ESCAPES
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In Washington politics, rarely does anybody fully mean what he or she says. But few who know Paul Ryan doubt that he’s sincere when he explains that he’s abandoning his all-consuming job as House speaker to spend much more time with his wife, Janna, and their three kids. Believe it when he says he’s not running for re-election to Congress because he’s longing to be more than a “Saturday dad.” So, he’ll be going home to Janesville, Wisconsin, as a private citizen next year. However, another reality in Washington is that there usually is more to the story.
The speaker is immensely powerful on paper, being second in line for presidential succession and all that stuff, in addition to leading the House of Representatives. But riding herd on this gaggle of House Republicans is an exercise in frustration. True, they hold a majority in both chambers of Congress, but that’s illusory. In truth, the GOP is badly split between conservatives, extremists and wackos. Trying to please them all is impossible. They run roughshod over each other as often as they do the hapless Democrats. All too often, the roughshod-ee is Paul Ryan -- even though long cultivated a reputation as an honest broker, albeit an ambitious one who manages to have it both ways; a harsh but reasonable-appearing right-winger. He has been destined for stardom since he ventured onto the political stage. But now he wants to step off for a while, or at least have it appear that he is.

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April 10, 2018

PHANTOM STORMS-REAL STORMS

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, APRIL 10, 2018

PHANTOM STORMS-REAL STORMS
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Besides what Stormy Daniels says she did with Donald Trump and what Scott Pruitt actually did to the taxpayers, the two have something in common: Both are quickly becoming old news. They’ve had their 15 minutes of fame (in Stormy’s case, it was actually “60 Minutes”), but soon will fade into the “forgotten sleaze” abyss, to be met with “that’s soooo last week” indifference.
That is Daniels’ (as far as I’m concerned, her porn name is her real name) greatest fear and Pruitt’s fondest hope. Whatever the outcome of her legal case, she’s had a career boost. She is a hot item on the stripper circuit again, but the naked truth is that the lucrative pole ride inevitably soon will be over.
Scott Pruitt is hoping to ride out his scandals, waiting for the next buffoonery to distract those of us who get our jollies bouncing from one crisis to the next. Already his boss, the president, is giving him some space, going on weekend Twitter to declare that “Scott is doing a great job.” Donald Trump is betting on his embattled Environmental Protection Agency administrator to deflect the barrage of bad publicity as simply more tackiness from the Trump gang. In Pruitt’s case, as we all know, he was caught flying first class during official travel when economy is the rule, and living in lobbyist-owned accommodations at cut-rate prices. Short of another outrageous disclosure, look for him to stay put so that he can gut the environment another day.

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