Three Major Reasons the Press Has No Credibility on Gun Issues

There’s nothing new in criticizing media. Claims of bias come up all the time — from both sides. Lines get drawn with Fox News on one side, MSNBC on the other and outlets such as CNN getting pilloried by both the left and right.

Political bias deserves criticism of course, but those biases pale in comparison to the big policy issue of gun control. No other issue turns people who are supposed to be objective reporters into hair-on-fire advocates and zealots with zero concern for the facts faster and more thoroughly than a tragic event like a mass shooting.

What’s worse is that no matter how many such horrors take place, the media continues to flush their reputation down the drain every time. Not only does their extreme, reactionary advocacy make them less effective communicators and reporters, it hinders itself. Their advocacy undermines their advocacy.

The press continuously get things wrong, often to the detriment or harm of others, and yet feign surprise when people call them out with vitriol.

It would be difficult to list all the mistakes the media makes on a daily basis when it comes to their reporting on firearms. For example, when members of the press say, “military-grade weapons” when describing semi-automatic rifles, it’s a phony description. The rifles sold to the consumer marketplace are not “military-grade.”

More severe problems exist beyond firearms descriptors. Here are three primary reasons the press’s credibility on the issue is so low.

1. They rely on poor sources for their information: They go to gun control groups to get their “facts” and then report without question.

The latest example involved the number of school shootings that have occurred since the start of 2018. News organizations, reporters, celebrities, and talking heads “reported” the Parkland shooting as the 18th school shooting so far this year.

The 18 number comes from the gun-grabbing group Everytown For Gun Safety. Did the press outlets check? Did they confirm how Everytown defined a “school shooting?” No. They just repeated the number over and over again.

It wasn’t until people began looking into the numbers the Washington Post offered up a fact check:

A tweet by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) including the claim had been liked more than 45,000 times by Thursday evening, and one from political analyst Jeff Greenfield had cracked 126,000. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted it, too, as did performers Cher and Alexander William and actors Misha Collins and Albert Brooks. News organizations — including MSNBC, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, Time, MSN, the BBC, the New York Daily News and HuffPost — also used the number in their coverage. By Wednesday night, the top suggested search after typing “18” into Google was “18 school shootings in 2018.”

It is a horrifying statistic. And it is wrong.

Everytown has long inflated its total by including incidents of gunfire that are not really school shootings. Take, for example, what it counted as the year’s first: On the afternoon of Jan. 3, a 31-year-old man who had parked outside a Michigan elementary school called police to say he was armed and suicidal. Several hours later, he killed himself. The school, however, had been closed for seven months. There were no teachers. There were no students.

There were no corrections from the press either. Bad form, guys.

2. They just make stuff up: It’s bad when the media reports lousy information. It is worse when they make up news out of whole cloth.

A current egregious example comes from CBS in a piece entitled, “5 things that are more complicated than buying a gun in Florida.” And they get it wrong in their first example! 

The first item on their list is cold medicine. They write:

In order to purchase common cold medication, like Sudafed, customers are required to show a form of photo identification that proves they are at least 18 years old.

That’s it. To purchase a firearm, the purchaser must be 18 (for rifles) or 21 (for handguns), show ID, pass a background check and wait 3-5 days (3 days for handguns in the state, five days in some counties for rifles) to take possession. The only exception is if the purchaser possesses a concealed carry license (for which they still must pass a background check). The rest of the article contains much of the same garbage “reporting.”

3. Press coverage is entirely one-sided, and they have no reporters that cover the gun beat: Beat reporting. It’s a thing. When newspapers still flourished, they employed writers that included the chess beat.

Mainstream media outlets, for the most part, do not have a firearms beat. The very fact the media must always be held in check over its sloppiness and bias shows how little regard reporters have for the gun rights community. If CNN can pay a doofus like Chris Cillizza 6-7 figures for his lousy brand of journalism, then they can afford to hire a reporter that focuses on guns.

These reporters should spend time with people in the gun rights community. They should visit shooting ranges and talk to enthusiasts. And, most of all, educate themselves on guns and learn to operate them.

A news organization wouldn’t send a food critic to cover the Supreme Court, so why should reporters with zero experience with firearms get the job of covering a mass shooting?

What’s so mind-numbingly frustrating is that fixing these issues doesn’t require a lot of work. It just requires news organizations having the fortitude to hire dedicated people to cover the issue of firearms.

Will they do it? You don’t need a Magic 8-ball to know the answer is, “Unlikely.” But we can hope, right?

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Trump: I Never Said Russia Did Not Meddle In Our Election. Reality: Your Pants Are On Fire

Robert Mueller’s indictment of thirteen Russian agents for meddling in (among other things) the 2016 election sure does have President Trump on edge. Similarly, Trump’s most ardent defenders are out in full force, declaring the indictments to be “nothing” and with some laughably saying Mueller’s indictment may violate free speech.

People forget Trump was thrilled when Russians fed information to their toady Julian Assange at WikiLeaks, who then dumped DNC emails on a public server for all to see. “I love WikiLeaks!” Trump declared at a campaign rally, holding one of the emails aloft as if he were Neville Chamberlain.

Trump, throughout the campaign and well into his first year as president, repeatedly denied or downplayed Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election. It wasn’t just the “collusion” aspect. Granted, criticism of the media’s breathless “collusion” angle is definitely warranted. Many in the press were hoping for the smoking gun of an email to Trump from Putin saying, “We got this” and it never emerged. Still, Trump didn’t even want to admit the obvious.

Today, however, Donald Trump wants to tell a different story. He’s claiming never cast down on meddling and only focused on collusion. He tweeted the following:

The internet, while often used as a tool to make people think they’re experts in fields they are not, does provide a functional way for people to check on whether somebody else is lying or not.

And President Trump is lying.

First off there’s the evidence from his tweets. Here are several where he claims Russian meddling was “made up” by Democrats to cover for their loss:

While Trump did refer to the collision angle as a hoax, he also referred to the entire investigation as a hoax as well:

Outside of Twitter, there exists plenty of statements Trump made after his inauguration where he attempted to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Russian meddling even after the CIA, NSA and FBI all agreed it happened. Their joint report, released on January 6, 2017, left no doubt the Russians actively interfered with our presidential election.

Yet here are Trump’s denials after the fact:

May 11, 2017: In an interview with Lester Holt, President Trump says it is a “made up story.” He said, “It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

July 6, 2017: Trump says, “nobody knows for sure” if Russia meddled.

November 11, 2017: Trump is explicitly asked by the press if he believes Vladimir Putin when he told Trump that Russia did not meddle in the election. Trump responds, “I really believe that when he tells me that.”

Before the intelligence report release, President Trump was briefed on the contents and he still publicly denied it was Russia:

Mr Trump said it might have been Russia but it was impossible to know.

“They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody sitting in a bed some place,” he said.

He tweeted the following in December 2016:

And this on January 3:

And this on January 4:

Trump and his defenders can say he only denied the “collusion” allegation, but the evidence is clear he most certainly did try to dismiss the claims of Russian interference as well.

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It’s Not A Hoax, Mr. President: Take The Mueller Investigation Seriously

The indictment of thirteen Russians for various crimes spent relatively little time online before naysayers took to social media (ironically) to complain it was “nothing.” “It doesn’t matter.” “It doesn’t prove anybody in the Trump campaign was involved.” “This is all because some Russians used social media! That’s so stupid!”

Even President Trump got into it when he tweeted the following:

The mockery of Mueller’s investigation by those who wholly support the absurd conspiracy theory the Justice Department, FBI and Hillary Clinton campaign were in cahoots with each other to make sure Donald Trump lost, comes off looking rather silly after the charges were handed down.

Caleb made a good point on Twitter about those engaging in said mockery:

It goes even further than that. The same people who claim the Mueller indictments are absurd are typically the first tell you about all of their Twitter followers and the level of engagement they receive on social media. They promote their work, whether it’s writing, podcasts, video or a mixture of both using social media! People rely on social media sharing to drive traffic to their content. To get people to read. To get people to engage. To get people to believe.

Why is it so impossible to believe the Russians couldn’t do the same by creating fake social media accounts to drive engagement. Not in support of any one candidate, but instead in creating chaos within the political system?

Some of you no doubt know the name, Jenna Abrams. She may have followed you on Twitter. She never changed her avatar. It was always the same:

Jenna amassed tens of thousands of followers and people wanted her to follow them. But there was no Jenna. She was the product of a Russian troll farm outfit. But she had people fooled. From The Daily Beast:

Abrams, who at one point boasted nearly 70,000 Twitter followers, was featured in articles written by Bustle, U.S. News and World Report, USA Today, several local Fox affiliates, InfoWars, BET, Yahoo Sports, Sky News, IJR, Breitbart, The Washington Post, Mashable, New York Daily News, Quartz, Dallas News, France24, HuffPost, The Daily Caller, The Telegraph, CNN, the BBC, Gizmodo, The Independent, The Daily Dot, The Observer, Business Insider, The National Post, Refinery29, The Times of India, BuzzFeed, The Daily Mail, The New York Times, and, of course, Russia Today and Sputnik.

That is one hell of a list of publications. Everything from The Washington Post to Breitbart was fooled.

So why is so hard to believe the Russians couldn’t engage in the kind of chaos on a mass scale that would seek to interfere with our elections?

Remember, for Russia to claim success, their goal didn’t have to include supporting any one candidate. The goal was to sow seeds of distrust in the electoral system, the justice system, the political system and to turn Americans against each other. Looking at our political climate is there any doubt the Russians are celebrating?

President Trump may well not be connected to any of the activities of the Russians. In fact, it’s likely he’s not involved. The people who are part of the #Resist movement and think Trump will get indicted will likely wind up disappointed. But the president must show some leadership. In his tweet, he pretty much acknowledges the Russian malfeasance. He wants to separate himself from the events at hand but calling the investigation a “hoax” no longer applies.

President Trump can no longer sit back and choose to just dismiss the entire investigation and seek out ways to fire those associated with it. A foreign power attempted to meddle in our elections. It is time to take the Mueller investigation seriously, Mr. President.

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Marco Rubio Slams FBI’s Parkland Shooter Screwup

The FBI was under what many might consider partisan attacks as it relates to the Trump/Russia investigation. But news came out that sheds light on the FBI fumbling information they received about the Parkland shooter in January.

There was a breakdown somewhere and Marco Rubio is not happy:

Sen. Marco Rubio and other political figures blasted the FBI for failing to investigate a report about the Parkland school shooter.

“It is inexcusable that the FBI failed to follow protocols and inform the Miami Field Office that people close to the Parkland, FL shooter warned the Bureau over a month ago of his desire to kill, his mental state, and erratic behavior,” Rubio said in a statement.

“The fact that the FBI is investigating this failure is not enough. Both the House and Senate need to immediately initiate their own investigations into the FBI’s protocols for ensuring tips from the public about potential killers are followed through. Lawmakers and law enforcement personnel constantly remind the public that ‘if you see something, say something.’ In this tragic case, people close to the shooter said something, and our system utterly failed the families of seventeen innocent souls.”

It is hard to fault him for being angry. Nobody can say for sure if the shooting would have been prevented had the FBI followed up. But that’s irrelevant. At a time when mentally disturbed individuals are making names for themselves by going out and attempting to kill as many people as possible, there is zero excuse for the FBI not to have followed up on a tip.

Rubio wants to have hearings and who can blame him?

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‘Republican’ Donald Trump Backs A Nice Big Regressive Tax Hike

This move by Trump likely won’t make liberals mad because they love tax increases. Naturally, it will bug conservatives who have argued time and time again that Trump’s natural Democratic tendencies would show themselves when it suited him.

Well, it suits him.

According to Axios, Trump backed a 25 cent increase in the gasoline tax:

President Trump endorsed a 25-cent gas tax hike to pay for infrastructure at a White House meeting this morning with senior administration officials and members of Congress from both parties, according to two sources with direct knowledge. Trump also said he was open to other ways to pay for infrastructure, according to a source with direct knowledge.

His defenders will, of course, jump all over the “open to other ways” blather. “Oh, he’s just being the master negotiator!”

Hogwash. Trump doesn’t suggest something to negotiate. He makes suggestions based on whatever enters his brain last and if he thinks it’s a good idea, he backs it in that moment. He’s reversed course before, but not as part of any negotiation but rather due to whoever had his ear last.

Thankfully, actual Republicans won’t allow this to go through. Trump will likely blame it on Democrats or the “fake news media” and it won’t go anywhere. It is, however, another example of where Trump shows he has zero ideological core and will go along with goofy ideas because they sound good in the moment.

Suffice it to say, it is an awful idea. With inflation looming, oil prices and gas prices have already started to rise. The last thing people need is another 25 cent tax at the pump. Hopefully, as the story says, it is dead on arrival for Republicans.

 

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Dear Media: Stop Fawning Over North Korea At The Olympics Knowing It’s A Tyrannical, Murderous Regime

Some people in the mainstream media understand why people look at them as a step below pond scum. Still, others sit around wondering, “Why? Why doesn’t the public like us?” That question gets asked and answered so often and yet they’re like Leonard from Memento, seemingly forgetting after five minutes after getting told.

The Winter Olympics began, and some media outlets have taken it upon themselves to behave like teenage girls at a Beatles concert when covering North Korea. When President George W. Bush named North Korea as one of the countries representing the “Axis of Evil” (David Frum came up with that one, folks) he wasn’t just using it as a rhetorical device. The Kim dynasty, which has controlled North Korea since the end of World War II, defines evil. They attempt to appear to reign like a royal family but instead rule with an iron fist.

Apparently forgetting about that, some in the media decided The Olympics might present an opportunity to gloss over Kim dynasty wretchedness by “reporting” stories as you see below:

The cheerleaders “stole the spotlight” because they knew their lives were on the line. Perform poorly in front of a worldwide audience, embarrassing Dear Leader and they’d likely wind up in a gulag — at best.

One of the more shocking stories has to be the Washington Post comparing Kim Yo-jong to Ivanka Trump. Before her father winning the presidential election, Ivank sold clothes. I can assure you that Kim Yo-jong is not selling clothes or baking cookies. Her brother elevated her to be on the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea. As Joe Biden would say, “That’s a big f**king deal.”

So just so we are Obama-clear, let’s run down a list of what the Kim family does to their people:

  • They publicly (and frequently) publicly execute citizens including making people watch firing squads take out people in stadiums
  • They send citizens abroad to work and make them return 90 percent or more of their pay to the homeland – and not for family but the state
  • Citizens have zero rights. None. They have no access to the outside world. People there have never heard of Google or Apple. Television is state run.
  • As I said earlier, they run actual gulags
  • Kim had his half-brother assassinated and his uncle executed to consolidate power
  • Finally, I hope the Kim loving media remembers the name, Otto Warmbier

Look at this photo:

That’s Warmbier on the right after being sentenced by the North Korean government to 15 years in prison and hard labor after a conviction for a “hostile act.” His crime? He stole a poster from a hotel. The United States negotiated his release 17 months later, but what see on the left is what he looked like because he was in a coma. An affliction that no doubt came from likely repeated beatings at the hands of North Korean prison guards.

Still want to play footsie with these dirtbags, media friends?

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Joe Scarborough’s Free Speech Problem: He Wants The Government To Regulate Facebook

Facebook, like any social media platform, receives a significant amount of hate from users. The same users who post items to the platform nearly every day. There’s always a love/hate relationship among users of social media whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. The great thing about these platforms is we get to choose what we want to see despite some caveats regarding when we look at it.

What matters above all is that it is our choice. If you’re a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, you can like pages and share content that shows you’re a fan. If you hate the Eagles, you don’t have to look at that material. If you’re the kind of neanderthal that likes straight-to-DVD Steven Seagal movies, you’re likely to find others on Facebook who enjoys the same.

The same goes for politics.

Many people in the United States seek political content that confirms personal biases. It’s likely that most people want access to stories and articles that provide them with the best information about politics. However, if you’re a person who believes Vladimir Putin controls Donald Trump, you’ll gravitate towards the information that confirms this bias. If you’re one who thinks the FBI and Department of Justice conspired with the Hillary Clinton campaign to take down Donald Trump, you’ll find similar information. That Facebook provides a place where people can share that information freely despite it being garbage is one of the areas where free speech can be annoying.

But efforts to get the government involved must stop. That means you, Joe Scarborough. Scarborough’s railing about Facebook has reached a fever pitch as of late, and now he’s actively calling for the government to regulate Facebook because he believes the platform is irresponsible for allowing people to spread lies and conspiracy theories that he says is hurting democracy. Watch what he says:

Joe should take a deep breath. Lies and conspiracy theories have been at the forefront of politics since the founding of our nation. No single social media platform people use today – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube – existed in 2001 when terrorists struck on September 11. That didn’t stop people from engaging in the worst kind of conspiracy theories about the attack, saying the United States government planned and carried it out. Did democracy survive? Of course.

Democrats floated the conspiracy that President Bush and his team knew the CIA assessment of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq showed they had none, so they made it all up to justify the Iraq War so that Bush could get a hold of the oil. Did democracy survive? Yes.

Scarborough should be ashamed of himself. If asked if he’s a journalist, he’d likely answer, “Yes.” So why on earth would a journalist want a social media platform regulated by the government? The slippery slope argument applies. Joe forgets he works for MSNBC. Shouldn’t they be under the same edict as Facebook? After all, there are plenty of shows on MSNBC where the hosts or guests spout bogus and sometimes conspiratorial information. Is Joe prepared to have MSNBC follow the same exact rules he wants for Facebook?

Knock it off, Joe. People are going to believe what they want, even if Facebook says otherwise.

 

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No, the Grassley/Graham Referral Does Not Confirm the FBI Misled FISA

As more of the information drips out related to the FISA court and Carter Page, the incomplete information causes Trump defenders to announce, “We have uncovered more malfeasance on the part of the deep state effort to take down the Trump campaign! Mwahahahahahahahaaaaaa!” The only thing it doesn’t come with is an animated GIF of a silent movie era villain twisting his mustache while cackling.

However, when those without a serious ax to grind, look at the information, what emerges is far less threatening. Kimberley Strassel at the Wall Street Journal, whose work I usually admire has positioned herself along with several authors of The Federalist as de facto Trump administration lackeys. They’ve become the yin to the yang of people such as Eric Garland and Louise Mensch. While the latter will believe nearly anything about Trump that makes him look bad, the former will do whatever they can to make the FBI look as if they carried out a politically motivated sham counterintelligence investigation designed only to take down Donald Trump.

Strassel tweeted this morning about the referral:

Someone who doesn’t look at these issues with a jaundiced eye is Gabe Malor, a DC-based attorney, and writer for various publications such as The Washington Examiner and The Federalist. He tweeted:

Gabe’s original thread is well worth reading because what you come away with is a more level-headed look at what happened. Twitchy gathered up all the tweets, but there are a couple that are worth sharing here:

Notice what Malor did not do. He did not exonerate the FBI. In fact, he leaves open the possibility that yes, the FBI may have acted improperly, but no, the Grassley/Graham referral like the Nunes memo does not make the case. 

If you want to know who’s winning in all of this, naturally it is Donald Trump. Devin Nunes is an idiot. Adam Schiff is an idiot. Neither of those political tools should ever set foot inside a House Intelligence Committee meeting again. Those two, along with Trump and members of the conservative and liberal media, have turned this entire thing into a political circus. Most Republicans will be dumb enough to put their reputations on the line for a chump like Carter Page while the Democrats continue to make themselves look like imbeciles convinced Donald Trump is a puppet for Putin. No matter what happens, partisans on both sides have managed to muddy the waters so much it will never clear up.

Thankfully, some level heads remain. Look to people like Malor for an unvarnished look at things. You’ll learn more.

 

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BREAKING: Stock Market In Free Fall!

For all that bragging by Trump about the stock market, he should have known that this run would not last. Of course, if he understood how markets worked (and no, working in a family owned real estate business does not qualify), he’d know that runs like the one we’ve had do not last. As of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down over 1,000 points (4 percent).

Someone that knows about the market would also know some of what else Trump brags about could, in fact, have an adverse effect on stocks. Such as:

  • Rising wages
  • Inflationary fears
  • The talk of interest rate hikes

This Politico piece spells out some more:

On top of concerns about rising inflation, the tax cuts are already increasing the federal government’s need to borrow and accelerating the date by which Congress must raise the federal debt limit. And as of Monday, there was still no plan in Washington to raise the limit and avoid a catastrophic default.

The result is that a president who tossed aside traditional presidential caution in cheerleading the stock market now stands poised to take the blame for any correction.

“This is a risk that the president clearly set himself up for,” said Charles Gabriel of Capital Alpha Partners, a Washington research firm. “Until now, Trump’s had kind of a free ride in this market and taken so much credit for it, even though so much of it was due to easy-money policies from Janet Yellen and the Fed. Now she’s out the door and volatility is back.”

The correction we’re seeing could very well be temporary. With a market over 20K, 2-4 percent drops are nothing to go crazy about, but if these losses are sustained, it could lead to other fears. As much as people like to (correctly) point out the stock market is not indicative of the overall economy, perception often affects reality.

Time will tell but I suspect Trump won’t be tweeting about the stock market anytime soon.

 

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Hillary Clinton Turned a Blind Eye to Sexual Harassment in Her Quest for Political Power

The story of Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual harassment and assault opened the floodgates, allowing many women to step forward and tell their story for the first time. People in the entertainment industry, the business world, and the political arena began to drop like flies. And with good reason.

Some of the stories have ignited debates as to whether or not the accused faced a valid accusation. The allegations made against Aziz Ansari pit people across ideological lines with some arguing what he did amounted to sexual assault, while others said the story was awkward but ultimately an unfair charge. These debates will likely continue.

Another familiar name surfaced in this discussion: Hillary Clinton. 

The New York Times reported Clinton kept a senior adviser on her campaign even after accusations surfaced of him repeatedly sexually harassing a young female aide. From the story:

A senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign who was accused of repeatedly sexually harassing a young subordinate was kept on the campaign at Mrs. Clinton’s request, according to four people familiar with what took place.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager at the time recommended that she fire the adviser, Burns Strider. But Mrs. Clinton did not. Instead, Mr. Strider was docked several weeks of pay and ordered to undergo counseling, and the young woman was moved to a new job.

Mr. Strider, who was Mrs. Clinton’s faith adviser, was a founder of the American Values Network and sent the candidate scripture readings every morning for months during the campaign, was hired five years later to lead an independent group that supported Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 candidacy, Correct the Record, which was created by a close Clinton ally, David Brock.

She docked his pay and ordered him to undergo counseling.

That has a ring of familiarity to it. It brings to mind the Catholic Church and how they would send priests to “treatment centers” following abuse allegations. The Clinton revelations stink, but when looking back over the last twenty-five years, this wouldn’t be the first time Hillary took the see-no-evil approach to sexual harassment. Her life turned into a series of calculated decisions that she believed would result in the ultimate goal: Being elected the first woman president in United States history.

Naturally, Hillary knows this issue won’t be a good look for her, so she’s already playing damage control on Twitter:

She was “dismayed.” And how were the young woman’s concerns addressed? She was shuffled off to work somewhere else while Strider maintained his position minus some pay and few visits to a shrink. Hillary felt it was more important to keep him around. When she ran again, she raised no objections to her number one fan, David Brock, hiring Strider to run Correct The Record.

It all hearkens back to the late 1990’s when more severe allegations against Bill Clinton surfaced beyond his reputation for serial philandering. Charges of sexual harassment, sexual assault and of course, his taking advantage of a White House intern for sexual pleasure all came to light. Who was there to defend Bill the entire time?

Hillary. 

Hillary Clinton not only stood by her man, but she actively engaged in the smearing of women she claims “deserve to be heard.” Hillary Clinton called Gennifer Flowers, “trailer trash.” She referred to Monica Lewinsky as a “narcissistic loony-toon.” She said nothing when her friend and political confidante, James Carville said of Paula Jones, “Drag a one-hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find.” She coined the phrase, “bimbo eruptions” in 1991 when discussing allegations that could surface about Bill.

None of it mattered to her. These women did not “deserve to be heard” because it could derail her aspirational plans. The only thing that mattered was advancing her political career beyond the title of “First Lady.” Power, not the rights of women, comes first for Hillary Clinton.

If the country is lucky, her previous campaign was her last campaign.

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