The Death of the Political Campaign Reporter

Ryan Cooper: “The 2016 election may be the first one in which the political press is totally sidelined. Politicians now have a professional grasp of social media — Barack Obama just got his third Twitter account — and they don’t need media middlemen to communicate with voters.”

“What’s more, no journalist has the kind of celebrity and cultural credibility (as Tim Russert used to have) that once made interviews mandatory for aspiring presidents.”

McConnell Won’t Allow Recess Until Work is Done

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “is turning up the pressure on senators to make a deal on three important bills, vowing to keep the chamber in session until its work is done,” The Hill reports.

“The Senate is quickly approaching a week-long Memorial Day recess, but it still has to finish work on a ‘fast-track’ trade proposal, expiring provisions of the Patriot Act and highway legislation.”

U.S. Won’t Release Bin Laden’s Porn Stash

“Newly declassified documents from the compound in Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011 have revealed the late al-Qaida leader’s remarkable English-language library, including books by Noam Chomsky, Bob Woodward and even 9/11 conspiracy theorist David Ray Griffin,” the Washington Post reports.

“Yet the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which released the files on Wednesday, has not released all the material found in the compound. In fact, there’s a rather notorious stash that the U.S. government apparently doesn’t want you to see: a cache of pornography.”

Bevin Faces Divided Party in Kentucky

Presumptive Kentucky GOP gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin (R) is facing a divided party as he prepares for the fall election, the Lexington Herald Leader reports.

“Bevin has clearly tried to begin winning over some of the Republican establishment… But Bevin, as he has since last November, blamed the media for creating a perception that he didn’t support U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after losing to him in the primary last year. Although Bevin repeatedly declined to publicly endorse McConnell, he argued that he did work hard for the Republican ticket last fall.”

Cook Political Report: “Democrats – and specifically state Attorney General Jack Conway – were the biggest winners on primary night. Conway faced just token opposition for Democratic nomination for this open seat. The race for the Republicans nomination was far more interesting and ultimately beneficial to Democrats.”

Jeb Bush Offers Rare Criticism of His Brother

Jeb Bush “put a bit more space between himself and his brother, part of a slow-motion and seemingly reluctant distancing effort as he moves toward a White House bid,” the Washington Post reports.

“After being asked by a questioner at a sports bar here whether there is any ‘space’ between the Bush brothers on issues, Jeb Bush pointed to the scale of government spending during the George W. Bush presidency.”

Said Bush: “I think that in Washington, during my brother’s time, Republicans spent too much money. I think he could have used the veto power — he didn’t have line-item veto power, but he could have brought budget discipline to Washington, D.C.”

Can Another Clinton Rise Above Scandals?

Michael Gerson: “In the five weeks since Clinton announced her candidacy, she has had a normal politician’s lifetime quota of scandals. During a brief recent media availability, questions covered foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation, ties to a former aide under investigation, the pace of disclosure of her already purged State Department e-mails and speaking fees that put her… in the 1 percent on a single harvest day in Silicon Valley.”

“Democrats are presented with a political question: Does Clinton really have the political skills to pull this off? Her husband was a master of projecting likability, remorse and good intent. She is plausible as a president but mediocre as a candidate. Her silence is often an improvement on her availability. As new controversies come — and that is close to a political certainty — will her polling hold? I have heard significant Democratic donors wonder about this aloud.”

New Clinton Speech Disclosures Show Foundation’s Take

The Clinton Foundation “released a list of nearly 100 paid speeches given by Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton for which the foundation accepted the fees, shedding light on talks that brought in as much as $26 million for the family philanthropy,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Nearly a third of the speeches were given at colleges and universities, which could revive criticism of the Clintons for accepting payments—even on their foundation’s behalf—from schools that have been hard-pressed to keep tuition costs down. Schools paid the foundation a total of between $2.8 million and $6.7 million for the Clintons’ speeches.”

Politico: “The release of appearances where fees went directly to the family charity offered no explanation for how the Clintons decided which speeches should go to the foundation and which to the Clintons’ own pockets.”

Rove’s Power Slides Along with His Super PAC

“For three election cycles, American Crossroads, the brainchild of Karl Rove and other leading Republican strategists, has been among the most powerful forces in national politics, a shadow party that has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising, data and opposition research to help elect candidates,” the New York Times reports.

“But in the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign, Crossroads — among the first outside groups to fully exploit the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision unleashing wealthy donors and corporations — has been buffeted by a rapidly changing political landscape that is testing its pre-eminence, and potentially its survival.”

Christie Skewers Media in Expletive-Filled Rant

Gov. Chris Christie (R) “gave an expletive-laced speech at an annual New Jersey media roast Wednesday, taking aim at reporters who had mocked him for the George Washington Bridge scandal, his travels and the state’s finances,” Bloomberg reports.

Said Christie: “We don’t give a shit about this or any of you.”

He told one journalist to “open your eyes” and “clean the shit out of your ears. This is a guy who says he doesn’t know what I’m doing every day. Then just get the fuck away from me then if you don’t know what I’m doing.”

White House Uses Situation Room to Lobby for NSA Bill

“The White House held threat briefings for key senators Thursday in its secure Situation Room as part of a lobbying effort to pass a bill preventing anti-terror spy programs from expiring June 1,” Bloomberg reports.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) “portrayed the briefings as a sign that there aren’t enough votes for passage. Burr and other senators were working on fallback plans should the bill fail, as provisions of the USA Patriot Act will expire June 1 if Congress doesn’t act.”

Said Burr: “I don’t think anybody should be rooting for this to all go away. Clearly with the hard press that’s on between the administration and taking people to the White House Situation Room, they don’t have the votes right now for the USA Freedom Act.”