Last summer, TikTok appeared to be on the ropes. The company lost its CEO. Rivals were swooping in. And the Trump administration looked determined to drive it out of business. Now, the viral video-sharing app seems to have rebounded. This month, TikTok announced an expanded partnership with Universal Music Group, accessing all of its music catalogue, a blow to its archrival, L.A.-based Triller. The company, which has a large presence in Culver City, continues to generate buzzworthy pop culture trends; for example, what began as videos suggesting songs for a musical about the popular Pixar movi...
The more people see of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the less they seem to like. Over the last six years, as the California Republican has gone from being largely unknown among U.S. voters to a national figure, his polling numbers have trended downward. According to Quinnipiac's May 26 poll, McCarthy now has the lowest favorability rate of top congressional leaders at just 12% — an astounding three points lower than Sen. Mitch McConnell.
That includes groups conservative leaders need to appeal to: A Morning Consult/Politico May 21-24 poll found McCarthy with high unfavorability ratings among several groups critical to the GOP coalition. Christians had a 28% favorable and 41% unfavorable view of him, retirees had a 26% favorable and 49% unfavorable view of him, and families with a military member as head of household had a 29% favorable and 39% unfavorable view of him.
He's not endearing himself to Donald Trump fans, either. The same Morning Consult/Politico's poll found that among 2020 Trump voters who had an opinion of McCarthy, 37% had an unfavorable view of him. Compare that to an October 2018 poll by The Economist/YouGov, which found among Trump 2016 voters who had an opinion of McCarthy, only 22% were unfavorable.
McCarthy wasn't always a household name. Back in 2015, when he ran unsuccessfully for House Speaker before dropping out of that contest, Public Policy Polling reported, "Kevin McCarthy has made a horrible first impression on the American public to the extent he has made an impression at all." At that point, according to the poll, 50% of voters said they had no opinion about him. Since then, McCarthy's name recognition has been on the rise, as documented by Morning Consult/Politico: In January 2019, only 41% of those polled said they had never heard of McCarthy, a number that dropped to 22% in January 2020 and fell yet again to 16% in January of 2021. In the May poll, the latest, the number who drew a blank on McCarthy was just 15%.
According to right-leaning pollster Richard Baris of Big Data Poll, most individuals who know who McCarthy is now rate him as unfavorable. On Steve Bannon's "WarRoom: Pandemic" podcast, Baris said late last week that McCarthy's unfavorable ratings are coming from independents and Republicans, with four in ten Republicans now having a "very unfavorable" view of McCarthy.
There doesn't seem to be one dominating reason why the House Minority Leader isn't more widely embraced by his own party's voters. But a closer look at recent events and numbers reveals some interesting possibilities.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson revealed on May 3 that McCarthy has been living with political consultant Frank Luntz, whom Carlson derides as "a smooth salesman" pushing political messaging onto Republican politicians that reflects values more liberal than conservative. By drawing attention to McCarthy's close ties to Luntz, Carlson fans might have the impression that McCarthy isn't to be trusted as a conservative champion either.
And Carlson's influence matters. In March, Luntz himself did some polling for a nonprofit client, the de Beaumont Foundation, which found that most Trump 2020 voters — 52% — were most aligned with Trump rather than the GOP. And Luntz also found that Republican voters who were most aligned with former President Donald Trump trusted Tucker Carlson the most out of a list of conservative media figures on information related to the evolving coronavirus pandemic — more even than his fellow Fox News primetime host, the Trump-friendly Sean Hannity. It's a fair observation that Carlson's perspective carries significant weight with the MAGA crowd, and Carlson exposing McCarthy as a close friend of Luntz's likely didn't do the representative any favors with them.
Two ethics complaints have also been filed against McCarthy, following a month of Washington Post Fact Checker articles documenting his living arrangements with Luntz. Salon has also published multiple exclusive stories reporting on Luntz's ethical lapses with media outlets VICE News/HBO and the LA Times. Salon went onto report that Luntz's ex-employees have called his research a scam, that Luntz's current employees were mostly Democrats, and covered other instances of Luntz appearing in the media without disclosing that he was working for a candidate or party. McCarthy's relationship to Luntz ensured the Congressional leader would remain in the spotlight alongside the embattled consultant, which can't have helped his favorability ratings.
In the wake of the Luntz revelation, McCarthy appears to have flipped his position on key issues, perhaps in a bid to juice his appeal with fans of both Trump and Carlson.
On May 4, the morning after Carlson's exposé, McCarthy went on cable news to say he had lost confidence in Liz Cheney — one of the most prominent Republicans pushing back against the Big Lie — as GOP Conference Chair, after backing her on the same vote in February. And after tapping a trusted lieutenant, Rep. John Katko, to negotiate a bipartisan January 6 Commission, McCarthy came out against the bipartisan agreement, and even whipped the House GOP conference to vote against the commission on a May 19 vote. Embarrassingly for McCarthy, a total of 35 Republican House members defied him and voted for the commission. Carlson has scoffed at the need for a January 6 investigation, and is no fan of Cheney nor her response to the Capitol insurrection.
McCarthy's favorability freefall might also have cleared room for the maybe-idle speculation that Trump could run for a Florida congressional seat and potentially become Speaker of the House if the GOP regains its lower chamber majority in 2022.
On Tuesday morning, McCarthy seemed more concerned with Joe Biden's domestic politics than an impending MAGA explosion of the Republican Party. "Well I remember past presidents who believe politics end at the water's edge, but apparently, President Biden doesn't believe that," McCarthy said. "He complained about Republicans but he complimented Putin. I think he kind of has this backwards."
McCarthy's office didn't return a Salon request for comment on this story.
Former U.N. Ambassador and 2024 GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley drew rage Monday from Israel's top liberal newspaper, Haaretz. Haley had thrown down in dramatic support of ousted Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, and Haaretz was not impressed.
A Haley photo op lavishing praise on the Netanyahu was seen by the influential Haaretz as insulting to its nation's new government. The resulting headline was unambiguous:
"NIKKI HALEY, NETANYAHU AND AN UNPRECEDENTED ACT OF CHUTZPAH:
Netanyahu hosted Haley in the prime minister's residence, where he is currently a guest. She described him as if he's still the country's leader. Together, they showed a lack of respect toward Israel's new government."
It did not get better in the body of the story for Haley nor for Netanyahu -- who presently sits on trial over charges of corruption. As a recent convert to Trumpism, the criminal wouldn't bother Haley, but this passage might:
"There is nothing unusual about an American politician, who is considering a presidential run, spending time in Israel and meeting with such dignitaries. But Haley's meeting with Netanyahu, and the way she described it afterward on her social media accounts, was unusual, undiplomatic and disrespectful toward the newly sworn-in Israeli government.
"Haley met with Netanyahu on Monday evening at the official residence of Israel's prime ministers, Balfour Street in Jerusalem. As the whole world saw on Sunday, Netanyahu is no longer Israel's premier – he lost that position in a democratic vote in the Knesset, and on Monday morning vacated his desk at the Prime Minister's Office to Naftali Bennett.
"But Netanyahu asked Bennett to give him and his family a few more weeks to pack their things and arrange their new life before leaving the official residence. Out of kindness and respect, Bennett agreed.
"Ever true to his habit of using the state's resources for his own personal interests, Netanyahu pocketed Bennett's gesture – and immediately used it for political purposes by hosting Haley in the residence as if he was still the sitting prime minister."
Haaretz has long been a fierce critic of Netanyahu, who it scorched in January for a "bromance" with Trump as members of the "Con-Men League." But the newspaper saved some of its sharpest criticism for Haley, who stuck the landing of an epic flip-flop to because a newly minted Trump sycophant just two months ago.
"She was understandably eager to get a photo with Netanyahu, who remains a hero to millions of Republican primary voters back home even after the majority of Israelis have grown tired of him and rejected him in four consecutive elections.
"To get that picture, she chose to accept Netanyahu's offer of a meeting in the official residence, regardless of how distasteful it is for an opposition leader to use the prime minister's residence as if it is his own private property."
And then the Israeli paper really teed off on the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N.:
Perhaps a less desperate guest, more sensitive to Israel's democratic traditions, would have insisted on a more appropriate location. But all of that is a minor problem compared to Haley's public description of the meeting.
"Time with Prime Minister Netanyahu is always invaluable," Haley wrote on her Twitter account. She added, after praising Netanyahu's "contributions to Israeli security," that despite his ouster, "we have not heard the last of him."
It shared this Haley Tweet.
And the conclusion of the Haaretz analysis was biting:
"The fact that the meeting took place in the prime minister's residence, as if Netanyahu is still in office, suddenly looks not just impolite but harmful. It sends a message that the new government is illegitimate and that the "real" leader of Israel is actually the man tasked with leading the opposition.
"Haley gained great popularity in Israel when she was at the UN, and there's no doubt Israel will feature prominently in her presidential campaign if she indeed opts to run in 2024. It would be good, however, if on her way to fulfilling her own ambitions, she would show a little more respect for the Jewish state's democratic institutions and traditions."
Fox 26 Houston reporter Ivory Hecker announced Tuesday she has been fired after announcing live on-air during an on-scene segment that her bosses had been "muzzling" her and she had given secretly recorded audio and video to the discredited far right wing activists at Project Veritas.
“Before we get to that story, I want to let you, the viewers, know that Fox Corp. has been muzzling me to keep certain information from you, the viewers," Hecker said on-camera Monday during her report (video below). “And from what I'm gathering, I am not the only reporter being subjected to this."
The Daily Beast reports that in a phone call with Hecker "she said that she had just been terminated by the Fox outlet."
But Hecker seems glad to go.
“I have been longing to part ways with this strange, slightly unhinged corporation since last August when I realized what they were," she told The Daily Beast. “The piece with Project Veritas doesn't touch what they did. Fox 26 knows I'm fearless."
She added: “I have zero interest in working for another corporation. They all toe the same line."
It's unclear what "line" that is but it would seem she would have been more comfortable at another "unhinged corporation," possibly OANN.
Here's Hecker's report from Monday.
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