Sunday, May 21, 2017

More on Roger Ailes


IN THE NEWS  JOURNALISM  LAWRENCE HERBERT SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATION

Joe Peyronnin on Roger Ailes’ Legacy



Joe Peyronnin, a journalism professor in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication and
former president of Fox News (1995-96), spoke with CBS Newsradio 880 and the Los Angeles Times 
about the legacy of Fox News Channel founder and former chairman Roger Ailes, who died Thursday,
May 18 at age 77.  He also writes about his experiences with Ailes in his Huffington Post column.
Listen to the WCBS 880 report:


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Roger Ailes and Fox News

Roger Ailes was a brilliant and fearless television executive who built from scratch the most powerful conservative news brand in television.   Ailes died Thursday at the age of 77, and less than year after he resigned as Fox News CEO in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal.
No one would have bet on the success of the Fox News Channel when it was launched in 1996.  CNN had dominated the cable news world, and Microsoft and NBC News had just teamed up to create MSNBC.  But Ailes had a vision and a mission to create a voice for conservative Americans that he felt would be successful in tapping into the “silent majority.”
I was Fox News President in 1995, having been hired by Rupert Murdoch to create a "proper news organization."  Murdoch hated CNN and its founder, Ted Turner.  My challenge at that time was that no other senior executive at Fox was interested in airing network news programming or creating a news channel.  The Fox owned local stations, which aired their own very profitable newscasts in the morning and at night, did not want to turn programming time over to the network.  Meanwhile, a cable news channel would be extremely expensive to build, and it would be very costly to obtain cable clearances.
After months of frustration I put together a news service and produced some network news specials using a core news staff that I had hired.  Later, I put together a plan for a Sunday morning public affairs program I titled, Fox News Sunday.   I identified several anchors, many of whom Murdoch rejected as too liberal.   We finally agreed to hire the late Tony Snow, a conservative columnist and former White House spokesperson for President George H. W. Bush.
Murdoch had greatly admired Roger Ailes for his politics, tenacity and bombast.  When Ailes left NBC in late 1995, Murdoch hired him as Chairman of Cable and News.    I was asked to report to Ailes, a breach of my contract.  Ailes reached out to me to arrange a luncheon meeting.
Ailes got right down to business at lunch.  He said, "I need you, I don't know anything about news."  But soon the conversation turned to an attack of the news media.  Ailes said he hated CNN and Ted Turner.  He told me he wanted to create an "alternative news channel," a conservative alternative.  He then asked me why I was liberal.  He added that he knew I had worked for "The Communist Broadcasting System (CBS News)."   I said that I didn't think CBS News was liberal, and that I had always worked hard to provide fair coverage in all my work.  He asked me to stay on, saying, "It's up to you, you have a good reputation, but let me know you're decision soon." Ailes was in a hurry.
Following our lunch I reflected on Ailes' political work for Republicans, from President Richard Nixon to President Bush.  I thought about his role in creating many misleading political commercials, and his ruthless reputation.  He was well known for his bullish and brutish style of management; you had to be totally loyal to Ailes or you were out.   And I remembered the role he played in the infamous live television showdown between CBS News anchorman Dan Rather and President Bush.  I was the CBS News Washington Bureau Chief at the time.
Ailes had accompanied President Bush to his remote interview location on Capitol Hill.   When Rather asked the president about his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal, Bush testily responded, ''It's not fair to judge my whole career by a rehash on Iran. How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York?''  Rather had, in fact, walked of the set a year earlier when a U.S. Open tennis match ran long and preempted the first few minutes of The CBS Evening News.  It turned out that Ailes had prepared cue cards for the president and held them up under the camera lens to assist Bush. Ailes saw the interview as an opportunity for Bush to win over wavering conservatives who viewed Rather as the personification of the liberal media.
In the hours that followed my luncheon with Ailes, I found out he had asked members of my staff of they were liberal or conservative. He terminated some who he thought were liberal, or he didn't think he could control.  That night I decided I had had enough.  The next day I told Ailes I was resigning because I do not do "alternative journalism."   I agreed to help during my transition, which would give my lawyer time to work out my contract.
Roger and I periodically remained in contact, and I appeared dozens of time on panels for The Strategy Room, a Fox News internet program.   But then one of Roger's many spy's reported to him that I had been quoted about our luncheon in Senator Al Franken's 2003 book about Fox News, Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them).  I was told I was banned from all Fox News programs and I wasn't to call Roger again.
It is hard not to admire Ailes' brilliance as a cable programmer, he created one of he most powerful news organizations ever, and he decided what stories would be emphasized throughout each day.   He became powerful and rich doing what he loved to do.  But he was anything but fair and balanced as a journalist and as an executive.   Ailes user fear and intimidation to rule his empire, and he created a workplace atmosphere where sexual harassment was overlooked.
Still, he had many devoted supporters and friends, including President Donald Trump.   He always thanked the television crew members, and, according to reports, he donated a large amount of his earnings to charities, including religious organizations.
While Ailes resigned from Fox in disgrace, for more than a decade he was one of the most powerful media executives in the world.  Yet, no other media executive did more to divide the country.  After all, Ailes was the founding father of alternative news.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Priming the GOP

President Donald Trump's actions over the past couple weeks should be particularly alarming for all Americans, even for those whom have steadfastly supported him.  His approval ratings are at an historic low for a president this early in their term.  Yet, for the most part, Congressional Republicans remain reticent, although pressure is building on them to show courage. 

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson warned, "Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."  Tyranny, the cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control, has been a growing characteristic of America's 45th President, who wants to bring an end to the many investigations into Russia's ties to the Trump campaign. 

The fact that Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, the man who was leading the FBI investigation, is chilling.  That the president would undercut his surrogates and admit flat out that the Comey firing was in part due to the Russian investigation is stunning and may be obstruction of justice.  Trump told NBC News' Lester Holt last week, “I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story; it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.”  Trump added that the investigation should have been "over with a long time ago," and disingenuously continued, "I might even lengthen out the investigation, but I have to do the right thing for the American people."  

The president took the trouble to note in his dismissal letter to Comey that the director told him, "on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation."  But according to those who know the director it is highly unlikely that Comey would give such assurances.  Of course, only an extreme egotist would invite the FBI director over for dinner and then ask if he is personally under investigation.   And only an extreme narcissist would ask Comey for his total loyalty before agreeing to keep him on at the FBI.  

The president regularly confuses ethical behavior with his personal interest, as if to say, "If it's good for me, it's ethical."  He sees no boundaries when it comes to the FBI investigation.  He recognizes no lines when it comes to the many financial conflicts of interest he and his family have in the U.S. and around the world.   

Even so, Trump's supporters still believe he will keep his campaign promises, that his obvious bluster is authenticity, that he truly cares about those left behind.   How's that working now?  Obamacare is still the law, meaningful tax reform is boxed up behind health care legislation, the North American Free Trade Agreement is still in place, nothing has happened on infrastructure, the national debt continues to explode, job creation is modest, and American taxpayers will pay for whatever wall is ultimately built along the border with Mexico.  Meanwhile, North Korea is out of control, the Iran nuclear deal has not been altered, there is no "secret strategy" to defeat ISIS, the U.S. Embassy in Israel has not moved to Jerusalem, Trump now says China is not a currency manipulator, and Russians are taking advantage of the president in the Oval Office and in Syria.

Thankfully many of Trump's campaign promises have not come true.   His replacement for Obamacare would knock 20 million people out of coverage, and give an $800 billion tax break to the wealthy.  His "tax reform" plan would add trillions to the national debt, and his unconstitutional anti-Muslim travel bans have been blocked by the U.S. courts.   Last month Trump told Reuters, "This is more work than in my previous life.  I thought it would be easier."  

Of course, Trump blames the the fake media for his failures and problems.  He has even proposed ending the daily White House briefings.  But even some leading Republicans think that's a bad idea.   In 1776, Jefferson wrote on how to prevent tyranny, "It is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large."   

Trump ridiculously claimed the other day that he came up with the term, "priming the pump."  Apparently they don't use that phrase at the Wharton School, even though President Franklin Roosevelt began using it in 1937 during the Great Depression.   But this is yet another example of how Trump makes it up as he goes.  And rumors of a massive White House staff shakeup once again highlights the fact that Trump will throw anyone under the bus for his own transgressions and shortcomings. 

Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans stand silently by as Democrats feel increased optimistism about their chances in the 2018 midterm elections.  

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Colbert-Trump Flap

CBS late night talk show host Stephen Colbert has been on a roll lately, outdrawing NBC’s Tonight Show in the household ratings since January.  Colbert’s rating’s growth has been largely fueled by his scathing anti-Trump monologues that drip with derision and contempt.  But Colbert may have gone one insult too far Monday night.
In an appearance on CBS This Morning, President Trump abruptly ended and interview by CBS News Political Director John Dickerson when he was pressed to explain his charge that President Barack Obama wired tapped him.  Earlier in the interview the president called Dickerson’s Sunday program “Disgrace the Nation“ instead of Face the Nation, and indicated Dickerson may be peddling fake news.  This was an unprecedented series of presidential insults never seen on network television before.  
Later that day Colbert jumped to the defense of his CBS News colleague, saying, “John Dickerson has way too much dignity to trade insults with the president of the United States to his face. But I, sir, am no John Dickerson.”  More than 10 minutes of Trump insults spewed forth from Colbert, which included a roll of toilet paper and a banana.   Colbert’s relentless verbal tongue lashing was similar to a boxer pounding a staggering opponent.  Colbert’s denouement came with a burst of energy.  “I love your presidency. I call it Disgrace the Nation. You’re not the POTUS. You’re the bloatus. You’re the glutton with the button. You’re a regular Gorge Washington. You’re the presi-dunce, but you’re turning into a real prick-tator. Sir, you attract more skinheads than free Rogaine. You have more people marching against you than cancer. You talk like a sign language gorilla who got hit in the head. In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c*** holster.”
The closing Putin reference has set off a firestorm of criticism, especially from the right, calling Colbert’s remarks obscene and homophobic. Some have ludicrously tried to compare Colbert to former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly, who left the network following a sexual harassment scandal.  Thousands have used the Twitter hashtag #FireColbert.  But where were these concerned citizens when Trump said Fox host Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever,” or when he insulted Mexicans as rapists, or he humiliated a physically disabled reporter, or he was recorded referring to how celebrities can handle women, “Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything?”  Of course, they voted for Trump.  Hypocrisy always rears its ugly head in politics.  
Sadly, the simple fact is that, when it comes to public comments and tweets, President Donald Trump has set the bar for decency to a pathetic new low.  Trump has now inspired comedians to descend to his level in order to get a few extra laughs, and for many viewers Colbert’s Putin comment clearly was in poor taste. Regretfully, this is not a laughing matter because it only further divides the country.   It is time for President Donald Trump to finally stop with the endless personal insults and name calling.  Conversely, comedians can dial their monologues a few notches and still be very funny.  
And what should Colbert do in the face of all this criticism? On his Wednesday night program he said he had no regrets, except he “would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be.” Perhaps he might have used Trump’s own words following the release of that embarrassing tape recording about celebrities?  “This was locker room banter...I apologize if anyone was offended.”   

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Trump's Broken Promises

As President Donald Trump closes in on his first 100 days in office he is scrambling to defend his inept performance so far in office.  Perhaps this is best illustrated by his announcement last week that he was sending an armada toward North Korea, only to  find out Monday that it was on its way to Australia.  

Candidate Trump made big promises on the campaign trail.  His promises were targeted at key voting blocks in order to mobilize them to vote last November.  A crackdown on illegal immigration, a border wall with Mexico, tax reform, repeal and replacement of Obamacare, better trade deals, a ban on Muslims, extreme vetting, and a stronger military are among the issues Trump ran on.  The strategy gave the GOP control of the White House and both houses of Congress in a bitterly fought election, which included an assist from Russia.

On Tuesday President Trump told a rally in Kenosha, Wisconsin, "No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days."  Never one to let the truth get in the way of a good story, it appeared that the president was trying out his talking points in advance of the 100-day mark.  But the truth is President Trump has failed to truly deliver on most of his promises.   And a  recent Gallup Poll shows that just 45% of Americans believe Trump keeps his promises, a sharp decline in two months.   

For seven years Republicans demonized President Barack Obama and this eponymous health care bill.  Candidate Trump promised to repeal and replace Obamacare on his first day in office.   But Republicans could not bridge the deep divisions within their own party, especially with the conservative House Freedom Caucus.  In February, a frustrated President Trump told a meeting of governors, "Nobody knew health care could be so complicated."  

House Speaker Paul Ryan had to withdraw his healthcare bill, even following heavy lobbying from the president, in large part because polls showed it had the support of about 17% of Americans. The GOP alternative would have kicked 24 million people off of heath insurance.  This is in sharp contrast to what Trump told 60 Minutes in 2015.  "I am going to take care of everybody.  I don't care if it costs me votes or not," he said, adding, "Everybody is going to be taken care of much better than they're taken care of now." 

The GOP healthcare bill is linked by party leadership to tax reform.  A repeal of Obamacare would mean a $1 trillion cut in taxes for the wealthy.  Republicans would then have an easier task of finding savings in the budget to secure further tax cuts.   The fate of tax reform is now uncertain.

The wall along the U.S. border with Mexico became a battle cry for Trump supporters during the campaign.  And candidate Trump insisted that Mexico would pay for the wall, which he estimated would cost $8 to $12 billion.  Mexican officials have been consistently adamant that they will not pay for the wall, which Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who sits on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, now estimates could "soar" to $70 billion in construction costs.   And to what end, since a majority of immigrants in the U.S. illegally either overstayed their visas or came on a ship?

With much fanfare the president signed a controversial executive order in late January which suspended the U.S. Refugee Program and denied entry to citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen.  The EO led to chaos at airports around the world, and international denunciations.  A federal judge blocked the order because it unfairly targeted Muslims, as thousands of protestors jammed airports around the country to oppose the order.   The EO was poorly conceived and executed, and led to internal finger pointing.  A new updated EO was issued in March, but it is subject to an indefinite preliminary injunction.   So much for Trump's Muslim ban.  

The president campaigned passionately against the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which he has promised to renegotiate.  He said it was taking away American jobs.  But Trump will have great difficulty redoing this complex trade deal, and he knows it.  And now the president has reversed himself on his campaign charge that China is a currency manipulator.  Given the need to enlist China's support in dealing with North Korea, and following a meeting with the Chinese leader, Trump has flip-flopped.   Perhaps not so coincidentally, China approved three trademarks for Ivanka Trump's company on the same day she dined with her father and the Chinese president at Mar-a-Lago.  

The president has signed executive orders undoing some of President Obama's regulation, including related to the environment.  He was also able successfully appoint Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court with an assist from the Senate Republicans.  But Trump has had the worst first 100-days of any modern era president.  To exacerbate his problems, the probes continue into whether the Russians had any ties to members of the Trump campaign.  Infighting between chief strategist Steve Bannon and son-in-law Jerod Kushner has broken into the open and spawned unprecedented leaks to the media.  Trump continues his attacks on the "fake" media while tweeting reckless and untrue comments, like President Obama wiretapped him.  And Trump has decided to keep the White House visitor logs secret, which now raises questions about transparency.  

With Trump's popularity low and a rocky start of his presidency, Republicans are beginning to speak out.  Senator Joni Ernst distanced herself in comments at a town hall in Iowa yesterday.   "I think we have a president that has a number of flaws," she stated with unusual candor.  "I support a majority of his policies, versus the actual person, but I decry any time a person is ugly towards another person, I don't think that's appropriate."  She also said Trump should release his taxes.


Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress, so President Trump should have had an easy time achieving much of his agenda.  But governing takes a different set of skills than campaigning.  Trump's lying, personal attacks, distortion and distraction have worn thin on the very people he needs to support him.  So too, thankfully, has the list of unfulfilled promises, many of which would severely impact the very people who voted for Donald Trump because they mistakenly believed he alone could fix it. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Killing "The O'Reilly Factor"

"Killing O'Reilly" could be the name of the next book Fox News commentator and host Bill O'Reilly writes.  O'Reilly announced on his broadcast Tuesday evening that he is immediately leaving on vacation, "I like to take time off around Easter, it's calming."  However, O'Reilly's announcement was anything but calming when it comes to the growing sexual harassment scandal involving him, as speculation increases that he will be leaving the network.   Fox News has said he will return April 24.

The New York Times published an article April 1 disclosing that O'Reilly and his network had paid $13 million to five women as settlements for sexual harassment complaints.   Since then dozens of advertisers have pulled their ads from "The O'Reilly Factor", which has been the network's highest rated program, regularly pulling in more than 3 million viewers.  Kantar Media reported that the program is now airing about seven national ads, which is significantly down from the usual 33 national ads.  

Last week Los Angeles radio personality Wendy Walsh, accompanied by attorney Lisa Bloom, said that O'Reilly had sexually harassed her.  The company says it is investigating this claim.   Meanwhile, Bloom told MSNBC Tuesday night that it is likely more women will come forward with additional allegations against O'Reilly.   O'Reilly has said that he is a target because he is famous, so he settled to "spare his children the pain of messy ordeals."  No other Fox News host has been similarly accused.  Perhaps the only other "famous" person to face such allegations is former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who resigned last year amid scandal, but received a $40 million exit package from the company.  

While few noteworthy people have come to the defense of the temperamental O'Reilly, he did receive support from the president.  Speaking in the Oval Office last week, Trump described O'Reilly as a good person adding, "I don't think Bill did anything wrong."  He told the New York Times, "Personally, I think he shouldn't have settled."  Of course, the president has also been the target of sexual harassment charges, especially following the disclosure of audio from a video recording of him bragging about sexual assault. Trump later apologized for his remarks.

Fox News makes well over a billion dollars a year in gross profits.  The top rated "O'Reilly Factor" earns tens of millions of dollars in profit annually, and serves as a tent pole for those broadcasts adjacent to it.  O'Reilly's viewers are extremely loyal and his ratings have increased since the latest scandal broke.  But are the viewers loyal to the talent or to the Fox News brand?  Fox News executives will be monitoring the ratings during O'Reilly's vacation to see if his absence impacts the numbers.  They also know that ratings increased when controversial Fox News host Megyn Kelly was replaced by Tucker Carlson in the 9PM ET hour.

The sexual harassment charges are roiling the waters in Great Britain where 21st Century Fox is trying to take full control of Sky News.  The British regulator, Ofcom, is expected to announce by mid May whether it will let the deal go forward.  Ofcom could kill the deal if Rupert Murdoch and the company does not meet the standard of "fit and proper" owners, which can include any relevant misconduct.   Murdoch is still damaged by a hacking scandal in England which led a parliamentary committee to find in 2012 that he is "not a fit person to exercise stewardship of a major international company." 

Murdoch is also seeking to ease regulatory restrictions in Washington, where politicians are especially susceptible to public opinion.  Already New York City Public Advocate Letitia, who has led protests at Fox News headquarters, has sent letters the the city's Commission of Human Rights and the Securities and Exchange Commission requesting they investigate sexual harassment at the network.   Meanwhile, Fox News is being investigated by federal prosecutors to determine whether it broke any securities laws with its harassment settlements.

For the most part, Fox News has supported President Donald Trump.  Rupert Murdoch sees opportunity for his business interests because of a Trump presidency, and both men like nothing more than winning.  But, like Trump, some of Murdoch's children have a more moderate approach.   New York Magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman reports that a senior Fox News staffer said, "It's up to the family."  Sherman reports two Fox News sources say 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch wants O'Reilly out, while his brother, Lachlan, and father Rupert "are more inclined to keep him."

Donald Trump once famously said, "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters."   But the invincible Bill O'Reilly has lost advertisers and his program will take a huge financial hit.  At this point, advertisers clearly have a greater sense of social responsibility than does Fox News.  What do the O'Reilly settlements and the Ailes termination say about the corporate culture at Fox News?   

Fox News must rid itself of the stigma associated with this well established pattern and all of its bad actors. As the leading cable news channel, which serves millions of viewers every day, Fox News must act responsibly by making a powerful statement that sexual harassment is unacceptable.  

Killing "The O'Reilly Factor" and terminating Bill O'Reilly would be an important first step for 21st Century Fox.  

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chairman Nunes: Recuse Thyself

As a former member of the Donald Trump transition team's executive committee, Rep. Devin Nunes briefed Trump and his team on intelligence matters, as he had done during the campaign.  He worked closely in that role with General Michael Flynn, who resigned in February because he lied about having conversations with the Russian ambassador.  Yet, despite the appearance of a conflict of interest, Chairman Nunes has been serving as Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating links between key Russians and the Trump campaign and transition.   

Questions about Chairman Nunes' ability to lead an objective investigation have increased because of his strange behavior since F.B.I. Director James Comey and the director of the N.S.A., Admiral Michael Rogers, appeared before his committee last week. Comey's sworn testimony was devastating for President Trump.  

Comey was asked to respond to a tweets Trump had sent to his followers accusing President Barack Obama of having him wiretapped.   Comey responded, "I have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully inside the FBI. The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all its components. The department has no information that supports those tweets."  Comey did confirm that the F.B.I. is investigating the Russian government's interference with the November election, and "that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts."   

Two days following Comey's testimony, Chairman Nunes announced that communications by members of President Trump's transition team were included in the "incidental collection" of foreign surveillance. At a Capitol Hill press conference he said he had learned this through a source, which he did not identify, and then headed to the White House to inform the president.  Subsequently, Chairman Nunes' spokesperson revealed, "Chairman Nunes met with his source at the White House grounds in order to have proximity to a secure location where he could view the information provided by the source."  The spokesperson added, "The chairman is extremely concerned about the improper masking of names of U.S. citizens."

Chairman Nunes has still not shared the information or the identity of its source with any other members of his committee.  Nor has he sufficiently explained why he couldn't have used a secure area on Capitol Hill.   But President Trump said last Wednesday he felt somewhat "vindicated" by the announcement.   It all appears to be a perfect Trump tactic; change the subject from his unhinged tweets, thanks to the cover provided him by his former transition team member, Chairman Nunes.  

Chairman Nunes then cancelled all House Intelligence hearings scheduled for this week.  He explained, "There are just questions that we have for Director Comey and Admiral Rogers probably that they just couldn't answer in a public setting but it's necessary to get both of them back down here before we can move on to other interviews."  He said that the cancellation had nothing to do with the documents he had viewed in the secure location at the White House.   But Chairman Nunes did announce that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had agreed to testify before the committee.  Manafort has come under new scrutiny because of his alleged ties to the Russian backed former president of Ukraine.  

Chairman Nunes is reported to believe that the documents he was shown suggest that the Obama administration may have been using its foreign intelligence powers to shadow the Trump campaign.  He has said he is concerned that the identities of Trump officials were "unmasked" and widely transmitted to people who had no need to see them, and had "little or no foreign intelligence value."

In January the Director of National Intelligence released a report that found that Russian President Vladimir Putin had tried to influence the outcome of the November election.  The report said, “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”  

The Comey revelation last week that the F.B.I. is investigating whether there was any coordination between the Russians and members of the Trump campaign has shaken Washington.  How did Trump advisor Roger Stone know in advance that Wikileaks would release damaging emails from Hillary Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta?   The torrent of embarrassing emails was devastating for the Clinton campaign.  

Chairman Nunes is clearly slow-walking his committee's investigation, he has cancelled important public hearings with key witnesses, and he has failed to share information with his committee members while keeping President Donald Trump fully informed.   Many in Washington, especially Democrats, have called on Chairman Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation.  Chairman Nunes refuses to do so, responding, "I'm not sure the Democrats do want me to quit because they know that I am quite effective at getting to the bottom."  But from all appearances, so far his leadership has been quite ineffective.  

Chairman Nunes, remember you are no longer serving Donald Trump, you are serving the American people.  You must recuse yourself.