The Front Runner

The birth of the modern political scandal is recounted in this stylistic and overlong drama.

Written by Matt Bai and Jay Carson, and directed by Jason Reitman, The Front Runner (2018) dramatizes the news media’s role in U.S. Senator Gary Hart’s 1988 Democratic presidential primary campaign implosion. Filmed like a docudrama, the 113 minute period piece alternates between Hart’s campaign and the journalists covering it, to the detriment of both perspectives.

As the film opens, Senator Gary Hart (Hugh Jackman) is riding high off an energetic but ultimately unsuccessful primary campaign for president. Flash forward four years, Hart prepares to make another run for it with his veteran campaign manager, Bill Dixon (J.K. Simmons), and a cornucopia of campaign staff, including body man Billy Shore (Mark O’Brien) and a fictional scheduler named Irene Kelly (Molly Ephraim). Hart tries to maintain a cozy relationship with the press, including with inexperienced Washington Post reporter AJ Parker (Mamoudou Athie).

Things get complicated when Hart attends a party on a yacht called the Monkey Business and reporters at the Miami Herald begin receiving strange phone calls about Hart cheating on his longtime wife, Lee (Vera Farmiga). Frustrated, Hart challenges AJ to “follow him around.” Miami Herald reporters Tom Fiedler (Steve Zissis) and Pete Murphy (Bill Burr) take this as an invitation and begin surveilling Hart’s apartment, where they see Donna Rice (Sara Paxton) leaving at night. Can Hart extinguish this media firestorm before it’s too late?

With a cast of literally dozens of minor characters competing for screen time, your effort to keep track of them all will be as ambitious as the filmmakers’ efforts to tell this story from every imaginable angle.

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Foreign Ties Cloud All Sides

Or, why politicians in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

By now, we’re all familiar with the “Russia collusion conspiracy”, debunked by a two-year long investigation, that President Donald Trump conspired with the Russian government to win the 2016 election. A few things have come to light recently that expose the reality behind other national political figures and their foreign contacts.

After all, we can’t pretend we’re alone in the world and that our presidential elections have no impact on the rest of the world. Practically every country on earth wants to influence us in one direction or another. We give nearly $7 billion in foreign aid every year, and that doesn’t include military spending. It also doesn’t hurt to have influential friends in Washington, DC.

So it should come as no surprise that major US political figures have questionable foreign contacts and associations.

According to indictments unsealed by the U.S. Justice Department, Pras Michel, a musician and film producer, allegedly conspired with a Malaysian businessman named Jho Low to illegally funnel $865,000 to President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign without disclosing it came from a foreign source.

A total of $5.9 million in foreign money was bundled to avoid US campaign finance laws during the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Charles Schumer were among top recipients. Their hypocrisy is astounding when it comes to decrying foreign influence in U.S. elections, considering how much money they’ve taken from foreign sources.

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CNN Reporter Pushes Feverish Delusions as “News Analysis”

“Is American democracy on the brink?” asks White House Reporter Stephen Collinson

Just when I thought I politics couldn’t get any weirder, I read this piece of “news analysis” by CNN White House Reporter Stephen Collinson published earlier today. Filled with dramatic hyperbole and wild assertions, this “journalist” has apparently shed all pretense of objectivity and flown from propaganda artist straight into raving lunacy.

What does it mean to call something “insane”? If you saw a person on the street corner raving about pink elephants lumbering down the street, you would probably say that person is insane. There is no substantive difference between what Stephen Collinson is writing on CNN and that person raving about pink elephants.

What new threat menaces our republic? A battle over a report that was, until recently, available to the public to read, aside from some redactions that would be illegal to make public.

Attorney General William Barr has released everything he’s legally allowed to publicly release when it comes to the Mueller Report. He’s even provided a special room to twelve privileged members of Congress, six Republicans and six Democrats, to view a nearly complete version of the report (zero Democrats have bothered reading it). And yet, in an act of political theater, Congressional Democrats intend to hold Barr in contempt anyway.

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Collusion Delusion

Piers Morgan savages news outlets for “an obsessively unrelenting campaign to bring [Trump] down as President”

Whether the mainstream news media has any shred of credibility left after the dust settles from the Mueller Report remains to be seen, but right now, it looks bad for the hundreds of journalists and pundits who staked their careers on the Russia collusion conspiracy.

To be completely fair, a negative result of an investigation doesn’t necessarily repudiate the investigation itself. If prosecutors bring evidence to a grand jury, but the jurors aren’t convinced a crime was committed and the case is dropped, we don’t attack the prosecutors for simply doing their job.

There was a legitimate case to be made that the Russian government, or at least elements or agents of it, tried to disrupt and influence the 2016 presidential election. Mueller’s investigation uncovered mountains of evidence to support that and appropriate indictments were handed down.

But actual Russian interference in the election was a secondary concern to many journalists and political pundits, who seemed to have an unusually personal stake in proving President Trump committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.” They were all-too-eager to report speculation, rumor, and innuendo as fact, with none of the usual qualifiers.

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After 22 Months: Robert Mueller Finds No Collusion!

Why every American should celebrate.

The Mueller Report finally dropped, and the most shocking revelation is how little it actually changes what we already knew about the 2016 presidential election. What it does do, however, is finally put to bed an insidious accusation that led millions of people to question the integrity of our democratic institutions.

Nearly every day for over two years, news outlets like CNN, Washington Post, New York Times, MSNBC, Huffington Post, Vox, Daily Beast, BuzzFeed News, and more have been insinuating and sometimes outright accusing President Trump of “colluding” with the Russian government to win the 2016 election.

I said it two years ago and I’ll say it again: the collusion conspiracy has always been about undermining the election results, casting Trump as illegitimate, and yes, getting revenge for Trump’s embrace of the Obama “birther” conspiracy.

Hillary Clinton supporters were so certain she would defeat Trump in a landslide, they literally couldn’t believe Trump actually won by legitimate means. There had to be another explanation besides Hillary was a lousy candidate whose scorched earth campaign against Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary cost her crucial votes in the Midwest.

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Congratulations, Kylie Jenner

World’s youngest billionaire (or not), Jenner’s success is something to celebrate.

Bear with me, guys. I’m neither a fashionista nor a fan of vapid consumerism. I’m still wearing the same worn out belt I bought over six years ago. But when I heard Forbes Magazine announced reality TV star Kylie Jenner may soon be the youngest billionaire in history, I thought that was something to celebrate.

There are questions about whether Forbes‘ financial estimates are strictly accurate, but even if you count Jenner’s personal and business wealth into the high hundreds of millions, it’s still pretty damn impressive for a 21 year old.

At a time when politicians and celebrities are constantly telling women and girls the world is out to get them and they can’t get ahead, isn’t it wonderful that women like Kylie Jenner have been so successful? Their success and business savvy, at the very least, should be something to emulate.

In January, freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told a crowd that a system which “allows billionaires to exist” is “wrong.” Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has also routinely heaps abuse on “millionaires and billionaires.” They should, these politicians argue, be taxed at rates as high as 90% for the “crime” of being rich.

I have no interest in anything Kylie Jenner is selling, but millions of her customers do. They obviously find value in her and her products. Is the “system” that “allowed” her to grow a multi-million dollar business in a few years immoral? Is she immoral for creating a successful niche in the cosmetics industry and filling a demand?

Ambitious people don’t go out and create products people love just so the government can come and tax them out of business. People like Kylie Jenner should be encouraged, not disparaged and denounced, for their success. And I think it speaks volumes that this young woman was able to achieve so much in the United States, despite all negativity and nay saying by political “activists” who say no one can get ahead in this country.

Desperate News Outlets Turn “Street” to Attract Younger Viewers

Members of the mainstream news media embrace celebrity tabloid culture in their race to the bottom.

A few days ago, I spotted two articles about U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi “throwing shade” (or “serious shade” in once instance) at New York Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal proposal. I guessed this meant Pelosi was dismissive of the proposal, but because I’m too lame and too white, I had to look it up.

According to UrbanDictionary, to “throw shade” means “to talk trash about a friend or aquaintance [sic], to publicly denounce or disrespect. When throwing shade it’s immediately obvious to on-lookers that the thrower, and not the throwee, is the bitcy [sic], uncool one.”

Both CNN’s Chris Cillizza and Fox News’ Adam Shaw used the slang expression, in an effort to identify with younger audiences and appear “hip”, I guess? Because, yes, I’m sure the 78-year-old Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was “throwing shade.” It would only be more perfect if she came out wearing dark sunglasses at the press conference.

Are these two articles supposed to be actual news and analysis? Or are they just click-bait designed to appeal to the celebrity gossip crowd? As if Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are involved in some kind of celebrity rivalry. At one point, Chris Cillizza even refers to Ocasio-Cortez as “one of the biggest stars in her party”. What?

That she’s only been in Congress for a month is besides the point. Referring to someone as a “star” suggests they are an entertainer with legions of adoring fans, a wealthy celebrity, or the object of a cult of personality. Is that really how we want to think of our politicians and public servants?

How are we supposed to take these news outlets seriously when they report on national politicians like they’re Taylor Swift and Katy Perry?