You might’ve heard about Michelle Wolf’s comedy routine at the White House Correspondence Dinner this weekend. Her comments have caused outrage among members of the media, who said the routine was too racy and insulting, particularly the pieces directed at Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. But, while they were busy wringing their hands over a comedian’s remarks, the Department of Justice quietly erased a section of its internal manual that was titled, “Need for Free Press and Public Trial.” The media’s anguish over Wolf’s comments on Sanders’ eyeshadow also overshadowed the horrific massacre in Kabul, Afghanistan, that claimed the lives of nine journalists who were reporting on suicide bombings in the capital city.
The mission of the White House Correspondents Association is to protect the First Amendment and “promote excellence in journalism as well as journalism education, and to ensure robust news coverage of the president and the presidency.” Wolf’s comments, while harsh, were one of the first times that such a prominent person has called out the White House for its continuous lies to the American public. And these lies have devastating consequences for the way our country operates. This morning on CNN, CPAC president Matt Schlapp claimed that it is not the responsibility of journalists to call out the president or his spokesperson for lying. If that’s true, then what are the responsibilities of journalists? To make Trump’s administration feel comfortable?
That simply cannot be the case. If journalists are supposed to provide “robust news coverage of the president,” then that coverage must include calling out lies when they are found—especially for a president that made more than 2,000 false or misleading claims in his first year in office. Misleading the American people is a shameful act by the president, and represents a dereliction of duty by the Commander in Chief. Let’s stop obsessing over what Wolf said and focus our attention on the harmful, racist, transphobic, nativist policies that the Trump administration is advancing. Those who are more offended by a comedian than by Trump’s actions against immigrant communities or the LGBTQ community, to name a few, should take a closer look at their priorities. The one truth Wolf shared that is really offensive? “Flint still doesn’t have clean water.”
ACTION OF THE DAY
Bass Pro Shops. This weekend, the National Rifle Association (NRA) will host its annual conference in Dallas, and Trump will be one of the keynote speakers. One of the vendors that will have a booth at this year’s convention? Bass Pro Shops. Yes, the same Bass Pro Shops that remains the only major retailer of assault weapons. Demand they stop selling weapons of war by signing our petition! And contact them to let them know that their continued support of the NRA is shameful.
NRA’s Hypocrisy. The NRA convention in Dallas is drawing some big names this year—including the President and the Vice President of the United States. The annual conference is expected to draw nearly 80,000 attendees, and prior to Pence and Trump attending, there had been a policy of allowing guns at the gathering. But that policy has changed, as the NRA now reports that guns will be forbidden due to the appearance of two of the country’s leaders. Students from Parkland were quick to call out the clear hypocrisy of this change. Matt Deitch wrote on Twitter, “You’re telling me to make the VP safe there aren’t any weapons around but when it comes to children they want guns everywhere? Can someone explain this to me? Because it sounds like the NRA wants to protect people who help them sell guns, not kids.” The students are now circulating a petition demanding Pence cancel his appearance at the NRA convention. The latest move by the NRA is an admission by the organization that guns do not in fact make people safer. So, why do they want guns in schools? (See: profit.)
#CultureOfCorruption. Since Trump won the 2016 presidential election, his D.C. hotel, Trump International, has become a favorite spot for foreign government officials. In fact, just days after his win, the Trump hotel began a promotion targeted at foreign diplomats. Bahrain officials moved their National Day of Celebration to the hotel after Trump’s election. Kuwait did the same thing for their national holiday in February 2017. Now, the Philippine government is following their lead, hosting their government gala to mark the country’s Independence Day on June 12 in the D.C. hotel. Don’t be fooled into thinking these governments are choosing the hotel because it’s just so much nicer than any other hotel in the city. It’s a blatant attempt to curry favor with the Trump administration—and now, “foreign governments could use those ties to influence the president.” That’s why the Framers made this kind of corruption unconstitutional, and why over 200 members of Congress have sued Trump to enforce the Constitution’s anti-corruption clause and stop it—oral arguments in that case will be June 7. And foreign governments aren’t the only ones feeding into this administration’s culture of corruption.
UNDER THE RADAR
HUD Evicting Residents in Illinois. Forty families are facing eviction from public housing in southern Illinois if they cannot find a new place to live by June 30. The complexes, overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, have been in desperate need of repair for years. With the new notice of evictions, local news outlets and Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth have raised concerns about HUD’s management of the buildings. In a press release, Duckworth said, “It is unacceptable for HUD to make yet another rash decision that uproots dozens of families from their homes without providing a detailed explanation, especially after Donald Trump promised throughout his campaign to help communities exactly like Cairo and Thebes.” It’s another sign that perhaps HUD isn’t fulfilling its primary mission: to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable housing.