Trump Attacks News Media Over Crowd Size

“President Trump and his staff spent their first full day in the White House waging a bitter war against the news media over depictions of the crowd at the inauguration on Friday,” the New York Times reports.

“In a pair of angry public appearances on Saturday, Mr. Trump and his White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, excoriated the news media for what they said were deliberate efforts to understate the number of people who had gathered on the National Mall.”

Associated Press: “Trump is wrong. Photos of the National Mall from his inauguration make clear that the crowd did not extend to the Washington Monument. Large swaths of empty space are visible on the Mall.”

“Thin crowds and partially empty bleachers also dotted the inaugural parade route. Hotels across the District of Columbia reported vacancies, a rarity for an event as large as a presidential inauguration.”

Why Today’s Protests Matter

Jonathan Chait: “It matters that Trump drew a sparse crowd to inaugural festivities that he had billed beforehand as a historic, Jacksonian uprising of The People. And it matters much more that millions of Americans came out on a Saturday to register their protest. It is not only catharsis, though catharsis is better than depression. The message has been heard by the political class, Republican and Democratic alike…”

“The demobilization of the Democratic base is over. The prospect of a Democratic wave may not stop Republicans, and it may not even give them pause. But the governing party had probably assumed the clock would not start for months on the liberal backlash. Now the clock is ticking already.”

Trump Is Rendering Language Meaningless

Michiko Kakutani: “He is constantly contradicting himself and conjuring a reality at odds with verifiable facts—not just in impulsive tweets and incoherent, rambling off-the-cuff remarks, but in his just-delivered Inaugural Address. The lip-service that Trump paid to unity at the end of the speech is belied by his shameless use of nativist and bigoted language over the last 18 months, and by the barrage of insults he’s hurled at institutions—from the judiciary to the intelligence agencies to the press—and at individuals, including, most recently, the revered civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis. His defense of the ‘forgotten men and women’ — a phrase reminiscent of the language that his adviser Steve Bannon has used — is belied by his selection of a Cabinet chock full of millionaires and billionaires and Goldman Sachs alums.”

Speech Dims GOP Hopes for a Traditional Trump Agenda

New York Times: “While some of his advisers suggested that he would slip back into a more conventional Republican approach, Mr. Trump dropped hints in interviews, Twitter posts and other public comments that he intended to push his party away from its free-market, internationalist dogma on trade, foreign alliances, immigration, infrastructure spending and prescription drug access.”

“The hints are over.”

“An inaugural speech delivered with the same blunt force that propelled Mr. Trump’s insurgent campaign has dashed Republican hopes for a more traditional agenda. With his “new decree,” he declared himself modern America’s first populist president — and all but dared his own party to resist his Republican reformation.”

McConnell Talked Up Trump at the Inaugural Lunch

Playbook: “Mitch McConnell swapped seats with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), the chairman of the inaugural committee, so he could sit next to Donald Trump. McConnell and Trump spoke for a long period of time — and if you know McConnell, he doesn’t talk to anyone for that long unless he has something to say. The senator was doing a lot of the talking, and he’s not much for small talk. This was a one-on-one chat, with even Mike Pence laying back. McConnell and Trump were both talking with their hands, with McConnell at one point making a ‘T’ with his two hands, appearing to illustrate a collision.”

“McConnell is the ultimate Capitol operator. He’ll be able to tell Trump what is — and, more importantly, what isn’t — possible. Plus, he doesn’t have the scar tissue with Trump that Ryan has.”

Some Trump Aides Still Using Personal Email Accounts

Politico: “Amid the pomp and circumstance, though, disorganization continued at the White House.”

“Some of the White House’s press wranglers continued using personal email addresses because their official ones had yet to be set up, and there was confusion as to whether or not the prayer service was open to the press (it was). And Trump’s plans for the day, usually disseminated directly to the media, were instead blasted out on Twitter by press secretary Sean Spicer.”

Too Many Show for Women’s March to Actually March

Hundreds of thousands of people poured into Washington Saturday for the Women’s March, a larger-than-expected crowd determined to mount a roaring rejoinder to the inaugural gathering for Donald Trump one day earlier,” the Washington Post reports.

“By mid-afternoon, organizers had decided the crowd was too big to formally march to the White House, although protesters were already on the move and speakers were still exhorting them to head toward the Ellipse.”

Associated Press: “While there will be no formal march led from the protest stage near the Capitol, the crowd is still expected to move toward the Ellipse, an area of the National Mall in front of the White House.”

Kushner Cleared to Serve as Trump Adviser

The Justice Department issues a 14-page opinion saying that President Trump’s appointment of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as a senior White House adviser did not violate federal anti-nepotism laws, the New York Times reports.

“Government lawyers said that the president’s special hiring authority exempted White House positions from federal laws barring the president from appointing relatives to lead a federal agency. The White House, the department said, is not technically an executive agency.”

Trump’s Improvised Path to a Month of Executive Action

President Trump “plans to take executive action on a nearly daily basis for a month to unravel his predecessor’s legacy and begin enacting his own agenda, his aides say, part of an extended exercise of presidential power to quickly make good on his campaign promises,” the New York Times reports.

“But in a reflection of the improvisational style that helped fuel his rise, he has made few, if any, firm decisions about which orders he wants to make, or in which order.”

Lawmakers In 5 States Try to Criminalize Peaceful Protests

The Intercept: “On Saturday, the Women’s March on Washington will kick off what opponents of the incoming administration hope will be a new era of demonstrations against the Republican agenda. But in some states, nonviolent demonstrating may soon carry increased legal risks — including punishing fines and significant prison terms — for people who participate in protests involving civil disobedience. Over the past few weeks, Republican legislators across the country have quietly introduced a number of proposals to criminalize and discourage peaceful protest.”

Why a Membership Model? – Part II

I’ve previously explained the logic behind moving Political Wire to a reader-supported business model. Digital advertising is broken and it’s ruining the online experience.

An anecdote by Walter Mossberg about launching the tech site Recode makes this even clearer:

About a week after our launch, I was seated at a dinner next to a major advertising executive. He complimented me on our new site’s quality and on that of a predecessor site we had created and run, I asked him if that meant he’d be placing ads on our fledgling site. He said yes, he’d do that for a little while. And then, after the cookies he placed on Recode helped him to track our desirable audience around the web, his agency would begin removing the ads and placing them on cheaper sites our readers also happened to visit. In other words, our quality journalism was, to him, nothing more than a lead generator for target-rich readers, and would ultimately benefit sites that might care less about quality.

This user tracking is undermining quality sites. Advertisers no longer care about quality news — or even real news. They just want to follow their targeted readers around the web and put their ads in front of in the cheapest way possible. With virtually unlimited ad inventory, it’s a race to the bottom.

A membership model is a much simpler — and more honest — way to support a site that readers actually want.

Join today for just $5 a month or $50 for the year.