CNN’s Fake News Chart

If your memory is good, you may remember CNN as Jon Stewart’s favorite punching bag. Cable News Network, has had its ups and downs since Ted Turner founded it in 1980. Turner said the first all-news network and the first 24-hour news network was “my greatest career achievement.” (Marrying Jane Fonda was a personal achievement.)

Turner sold his greatest achievement, as part of Turner Broadcasting, to Time Warner in 1996 for $7.3 billion in stock. After Time Warner purchased AOL in 2001 Turner’s net worth sank along with T-W’s stock price.

CNN made its reputation with its coverage of the first Gulf War in 1991 and burnished it with reporting on 9/11. The network lost much of its reputation with incessant dubious reporting on plane crashes and disappeared young blonde women.

The renamed WarnerMedia is now owned by AT&T; CNN is now the favorite punching bag of the current occupant of the White House.

The Leader of the Free World

Although not in the same class as the above video, CNN recently performed a public service by publishing an interactive graphic charting the White House’s ever-changing answers to various issues:

  • Russian Collusion
  • Comey Firing
  • Mueller Legal Process
  • Russian Business Ties
  • Trump Associates

Click here to have more fun than spinning your fidget.

Lawyers 1,055 – Clients 145

The current occupant of the White House’s business modus operandi used fear of bankruptcy-by-attorneys as a cudgel. For example, in 2006, architect Andrew Tesoro submitted his final bill to the Trump Organization for his work on the clubhouse at the National Golf Club Westchester: $140,000. He was offered $50,000. Wanting to avoid legal hassle and expense, he sent a revised billing for $50,000. When that went unpaid, Tesoro contacted The Donald himself who said he would pay $25,000. Knowing that legal action to collect would cost much more, Tesoro took it, 18% of the billed amount, less than what he owed the consultants who had worked with him on the project.

A local news report tells of a couple in Rohnert Park California who were successful in their suit against the city. Police officers had entered Raul and Elva Barajas’s house, with guns drawn, looking for their son who was on parole.

Unfortunately for the city and its police force, they neglected to get a warrant for the search.

A federal court rendered its judgement against the city of Rohnert Park: $1.2 million. Mr. and Mrs. Barajas couple were awarded $75,000 damages and an additional $70,000 punitive damages. Their attorneys got… well, you can do the arithmetic.

The lawyers always win.

The Border, the President, the Wayback Machine

The current occupant of the White House gave a speech to Americans about the urgency of U.S. taxpayers funding a border wall. (As with the deficit and Mexico paying for the wall, Republicans no longer mention the president’s TelePrompTer use.) The major television networks acquiesced and broadcast the scripted, sometimes coherent harangue. Never mind that in 2014 the same networks declined to give airtime to the President – that would be Barack Obama – addressing the nation about border security. The reason given? It was too political. Previously, the networks did air George W. Bush’s immigration speech.

Continue reading “The Border, the President, the Wayback Machine”

Some New Year’s Reading (Trigger Warning: It’s About Current Occupant of White House)

If your brain can handle more background on the perpetrator of multiple business failures who occasionally spends time in the Oval Office, Foreign Policy magazine – not known as a left-wing propaganda organ  – has published a well-researched and dispassionate overview of business dealings with Russia.

A couple fun quotes:

“I think part of it was he was toxic to the banks. I think he also probably learned that personal guarantees [on loans] weren’t a brilliant idea either. So he was saying to himself, ‘What else could I do in the world? I’ll just convince people to buy my brand.’ And the only people who were willing to buy it were tasteless Russians, people who like the absurd, ostentatious gold-leaf lifestyle he has.”

 – former business associate

“Trump is not much different than most of the NY real estate developers. Obnoxious, liar, screws people, impossible to trust, etc, but in NY real estate–not unusual. None of any of that is proof of anything other than Trump was considered a bad guy who nobody trusted to do business with in the US banking world. That is far from any proof he did anything wrong as to collusion which there was none.”

-Joel Ross, investment banker

Read the whole article here.

Bonus Reading: a couple deep dives from The New Yorker – well-known for its fact checking:

Donald Trump’s Worst Deal

“The President helped build a hotel in Azerbaijan that appears to be a corrupt operation engineered by oligarchs tied to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.”

Trump, Putin and the New Cold War

“What lay behind Russia’s interference in the 2016 election—and what lies ahead?”

Happy New Year!

The Self-Declared Self-Made Billionaire

Having lived for a couple decades in Sonoma wine country, I’m familiar with the old riddle:

How do you make a small fortune in the wine business?

You start with a large fortune.

I’ve since learned that a version of this joke is also passed around among farmers and ranchers in Texas.

The failing New York Times took a deep dive into how the current occupant of the White House made his fortune. John Cassidy summarized the report in The New Yorker magazine and concluded:

He is a shameless flim-flam man with practically no regard for the truth or the quaint notion that wealthy people like him have a civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes.

The Times even used the F-word.

Preview of Coming Attractions from Michael Lewis

Even if you don’t know Michael Lewis, you probably are familiar with movies based on his non-fiction books: “Moneyball,” “The Big Short,” “Flashboys,” “The Blind Side,” and others. Lewis is very good at explaining financial esoterica in terms that even I can understand. Lewis’s latest offering, “The Fifth Risk,” an account of the dismantling of the government by the current occupant of the White House. The English newspaper, The Guardian, has published an excerpt focused on Chris Christie and the president-elect’s transition team. Fun anecdote from the book:

Christie had made sure that Trump knew the protocol for his discussions with foreign leaders. The transition team had prepared a document to let him know how these were meant to go. The first few calls were easy – the very first was always with the prime minister of Great Britain – but two dozen calls in you were talking to some kleptocrat and tiptoeing around sensitive security issues. Before any of the calls could be made, however, the president of Egypt called in to the switchboard at Trump Tower and somehow got the operator to put him straight through to Trump. “Trump was like … I love the Bangles! You know that song Walk Like an Egyptian?” recalled one of his advisers on the scene.