CHICAGO — A new study published by the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute for Economics makes a claim that will strike many as incendiary: “Greater viewership of ‘Hannity’ relative to ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ is strongly associated with a greater number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the early stages of the pandemic,” says the paper.The working paper is called “Misinformation During a Pandemic,” and it derives from the authors’ finding that Carlson and Sean Hannity, the two most popular hosts on the right-wing Fox News Network, initially treated coronavirus very differently.“Ca...
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Jon Stewart shuts down Fox News host trying to bait him into saying Biden's infrastructure bill is too big
On Fox News Tuesday, in a segment first flagged by The Daily Beast, comedian and activist John Stewart appeared on Martha MacCallum's show to discuss his efforts to push legislation that would expand medical benefits for veterans and first responders sickened by exposure to "burn pits."
During the course of the interview, MacCallum tried to turn Stewart's cause into an attack on President Joe Biden, by implying that his sweeping infrastructure proposal is money that could have been spent on burn pit victims.
"You know, you see the trillions that we're talking about spending for a lot of different things right now, for COVID, for infrastructure," said MacCallum. "How does that make you feel about what you're pushing for here?"
Stewart, however, was having none of this spin, and immediately shut her down, pointing out these issues are much larger and therefore require more money to solve than benefits for burn pit victims.
"Listen, just even at the Pentagon, you're talking about $750 billion, $800 billion a year," said Stewart. By contrast, he is advocating a "fraction of that to implement the card and benefits that these folks have already earned." MacCallum conceded his point, thanking him for appearing on the show.
Stewart on 'heartbreaking' health effects for veterans exposed to 'burn pits' www.youtube.com
Maybe it's just me, but I'm detecting a whiff of panic from the Washington press corps. For one thing, the Biden administration is, so far, running pretty smoothly. Sure, there are serious border problems to manage. One of the vaccines is proving a bit problematic. But otherwise, public servants dedicated to government of, by and for the people under the law and with reverence for the United States Constitution seem to be delivering. After four years of trumpery, White House reporters must be jonesing.
For another, the press corps is having difficulty seeing, understanding and, therefore, reporting the fundamental shifts that have taken place in the last six months alone. The Republicans, it goes without saying, have declared massive resistance to all things Biden even when all things Biden are Godsends to constituents back home who are impatient for the day when the government finally starts delivering for the people. The president and the Democrats, meanwhile, seem nonplussed. They knew they weren't going to get help from the Republicans. They have majority numbers to do without.
You have to understand that for most, perhaps even all, reporters in Washington, they have never seen the parties so demarcated. More importantly, as it pertains to the whiff of panic I'm talking about, reporters have never seen a day when they did not get under the skin of a Democratic president by laundering right-wing propaganda. That has historically gotten a reaction from Democratic presidents going back to Bill Clinton, because Democratic presidents bent over backwards to demonstrate being in touch with the majority of the American people, because a majority of the American people really were more in line with the views and preferences of the Republican Party.
That's just not the case anymore, and because that's not the case anymore, laundering right-wing propaganda through neutral political reporting isn't having the effect it once did. In fact, the president and the Democrats, in letting laundered propaganda roll off their backs, are acting like they know something the Washington press corps do not know—and that, my dear friend, is the most terrifying thing of all when you're reporting from the heart of power in the United States. The whiff of panic I'm talking about is the fear and awesome dread of discovering you're on the outside looking in.
What do the Democrats know? First, the Republicans don't have concrete policies to offer. They lost faith in the democratic republic that's creating a country that most of them don't want to live in. Second, and related to the first, the GOP no longer has a feel for what the whole of the country wants. (They still insist the Trump tax cuts were a winner when they were a loser.) The Democrats never lost faith. They never lost that feel. Moreover, policies like green energy, which were unpopular the last time they had unified control of the government, are now popular. If the president is acting like he doesn't need the Republicans, it's because he doesn't need the Republicans. And because he doesn't, the president really is redefining what "bipartisanship" means.
Let me put this another way. The Republican Party is the anti-government party. It has been for decades. During the Trump era, however, the party crossed a moral threshold many GOP voters would not. The Republicans became the party of treason. It literally acquitted the former president's attempt to overthrow the United States government. At the same time, a vast majority of Americans, all living under the smog of the covid pandemic, realize government action was the only way out of the emergency. They couldn't turn to the Republicans a) because the former president was most responsible for allowing the emergency to become the worst among rich counties and b) because they were the party of anti-government before they became the party of treason.
The Republicans turned their backs on the whole of the country when the whole of the country most needed the government to take action. The primary consequence of this, I contend, has been to make government action popular all by itself, regardless of any particular policy. Virtually everything Joe Biden is calling for is putting government in action and virtually everything he's been calling for has proven popular. Even things that used to be political liabilities, like spending trillions and raising taxes on large corporations, is popular—even, or especially, among those same large corporations.
The Republicans, I suspect, understand this better even than the press corps does. They see a future that's seemingly inhospitable to the old-school politics of "limited government." Some Republicans are trying. They're competing with the Democrats in the realm of government action. United States Senator Josh Hawley is chief among GOP fascists calling for the government to punish Fortune 500 companies that openly oppose anti-democratic election laws. Most Republicans, however, seem unwilling to rethink the old-school politics. They'd rather punch down on "culture war" issues like trans rights. They're retrenching locally even as they retreat nationally. And that's fine for a Democratic president who thinks being popular is better than being bipartisan.
I hope the press corps understands that in time.
Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley want to 'break up' MLB as punishment for protesting Georgia voting restrictions
Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, introduced a bill that would end the MLB's antitrust exemption, which dates back to a 1922 Supreme Court decision, in response to its protest of the Georgia law.
The senators discussed the proposed change as a matter of fairness at a news conference on Tuesday, criticizing corporations for seeking "handouts" and "subsidies," even though all three of them voted to drastically slash corporate taxes and have backed numerous corporate subsidies they like. The trio made clear that the bill was in response to a corporate action they disagreed with.
"This past month we have seen the rise of the 'woke' corporation," Cruz said. "These woke corporations have decided to become the political enforcer for Democrats in Washington."
Cruz accused the companies of "spreading disinformation" about the law, which Republicans dubiously claim expands voting access, even though more than a dozen provisions will make it harder to vote and could allow Republican state lawmakers to subvert elections. Cruz himself has spread misinformation about voting in Colorado, where the MLB moved its All-Star Game, falsely arguing that the state's all-mail elections are more restrictive than the new Georgia rules that Democrats have lambasted as "Jim Crow in the 21st century."
Cruz, who along with Hawley was among the biggest backers of former President Donald Trump's false election claims that sparked the restrictive efforts in Georgia and dozens of other states, argued that the Georgia bill was in response to concerns about voter integrity, even though multiple recounts and audits have confirmed Trump's loss.
"Major League Baseball's decision is indefensible on the merits," he said. "Major League Baseball made a decision that the more than half of its fans that happen to be Republicans are now disfavored and that voter fraud is not a concern legislatures should focus on. That decision was harmful. It's going to hurt baseball."
Hawley, who has previously waded into antitrust legislation amid his ongoing feud with tech companies he accuses of censoring conservatives, said that the solution to corporations trying to "amass" political power is to "break them up."
"This is about preserving the ability of the democratic process to go forward," he said. "The fact that Major League Baseball would get together and punish a state because the elected representatives of that state and the elected governor of that state signed a law to preserve election integrity is unbelievable."
Hawley claimed that the MLB and other corporations that have criticized voter restrictions in Georgia and other states are doing "exactly what the railroad barons tried to do a century ago."
Major League Baseball is the only sports league not subject to federal antitrust laws and there's nothing new about lawmakers seeking to change that. At least a half-dozen efforts have tried and failed to overturn the exception. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in 2019 called on Congress to "reconsider its antitrust exemption" in response to the league's decision to eliminate dozens of minor league baseball teams. But the senators' effort to cancel the MLB's antitrust exemption comes amid a growing GOP campaign against "cancel culture." It follows years of Republicans pushing to make it easier for corporations to influence politics. It also comes amid a nationwide Republican push to make it harder to vote after Trump lost an election that saw record turnout but zero evidence of any widespread fraud.
Georgia's law limits absentee voting and require a voter ID for mail-in ballots, restricts the use of drop boxes, bans Fulton County's mobile voting buses, makes it difficult to correct ballot mistakes, and makes it a crime to serve water or food to voters in long lines, although it does expand early voting in rural areas. It would also allow the Republican state legislature to replace the secretary of state, who pushed back against Trump's false claims, as head of the state election board and allow the board to take over local election offices, a move that appears aimed at Atlanta-area counties where Biden ran up the score in November. The New York Times identified more than 15 provisions that would make it harder to vote or give more power over elections to Republican lawmakers, though the original version of the bill also included a complete ban on no-excuse absentee voting and automatic voter registration and other provisions that would disproportionately impact voters of color.
MLB is hardly the only corporation protesting the law. Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola have come out against the law and nearly 200 companies signed a statement against state legislation "threatening to make voting more difficult." A coalition of more than 100 corporate leaders recently met on Zoom to discuss how to respond to the Georgia law and others proposed in states like Texas.
The criticism has led to backlash from Republican lawmakers, who have courted corporate support and funding for decades.
The Georgia House voted to strip a tax break from Delta, though that effort was shot down in the state Senate. A group of Republican state lawmakers called for Coca-Cola products to be removed from their state house offices.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who filibustered efforts to restrict corporate donations and led a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission to remove those limits before backing the Citizens United lawsuit that allowed corporations to pour unlimited sums of cash into politics, warned corporations to "stay out of politics" in response to the criticism.
He walked those comments back a day later, saying, "I'm not talking about political contributions."
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