Glass Houses
August 28, 2019

Bedbugs.

The New York Times has an infestation, and one of its conservative columnists is getting slammed — even by President Trump — for complaining about being called a bedbug by a guy on Twitter. And after Trump spent a not insignificant portion of his taxpayer-funded trip to Biarritz, France, doing a hard sell on hosting world leaders at his private Doral golf resort outside Miami, people rediscovered that the Trump Organization settled a lawsuit in 2017 with a guest who said his face, back, and arms had been devoured by bedbugs at the Doral's luxury Jack Nicklaus Villa in 2016.

The confidential bedbug settlement is real, but on Twitter, Trump insisted — twice — that the bedbugs were fake.

Well, you know what they say about people with verminous properties throwing tweets...

"Investigators never found bedbugs" among the Doral's "lengthy history of health-code violations," The Washington Post reports. "But the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has discovered numerous problems in recent years," ranging from "minor complaints such as dirty kitchen appliances, to more egregious violations such as live roaches near ovens and food preparation areas."

It's not just the Doral — New York health inspectors found mice "filth flies," and roaches in Trump Tower's food areas in recent years, The Daily Beast reported. "Trump Tower's roach situation, though, paled in comparison to the infestation at Doral, where Florida authorities reported 524 health-code violations from 2013 to 2018."

Those violations included "approximately 20-25 live roaches ... in the kitchen food prep area and behind a utensil table inside a wall crack" in 2015, plus "live, small flying insects" and other food-related issues. The violations were so egregious that inspectors recommended the state temporarily shut down the Doral kitchen, though it's not clear anything happened other than an $800 fine.

"Despite the resort's recurring issues, however, investigators found almost no problems during a May inspection," the Post notes. Read more about the Doral's various health code violations at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

July 29, 2019

On Saturday, President Trump shot off a couple of tweets attacking Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and his majority-black congressional district, which includes much of Baltimore. Trump has gotten some pushback for these attacks, but acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney defended Trump's tweets when Fox News Sunday when Chris Wallace said they seemed "the worst kind of racial stereotype."

"Look, I was in Congress for six years," Mulvaney said. "If I had poverty in my district like they have in Baltimore ... and I spent all of my time in Washington, D.C., chasing down this Mueller investigation, this bizarre impeachment crusade, I'd get fired. And I think the president's right to raise that. It has absolutely zero to do with race." According to Census data, Mulvaney's 5th Congressional District in South Carolina has a median income about $10,000 below Cummings' 7th District in Maryland, and its poverty level is either about the same or higher than Maryland's 7th.

Wallace pointed out that along with the district's above-average income, "Columbia, Maryland, which is part of the Cummings' district, has been called the safest city in America." And he continued:

Wallace: You say it has zero to do with race — there is a clear pattern here, Mick. ... Before his inauguration, the president tweeted about John Lewis, a black congressman that he should ... spend time in his crime-infested district. Then, two weeks ago, he goes after these four members of "The Squad," all women of color, and says they should go back to the crime-infested countries from which they come. Then he talks about Elijah Cummings and he says his district is rat and rodent-infested.

Infested. It sounds like vermin. It sounds subhuman. And these are all six members of Congress who are people of color.

Mulvaney: I think you're spending way too much time reading between the lines...

Wallace: I'm not reading between the lines. I'm reading the lines. [Fox News Sunday]

Maybe this is personal for Trump? Either way, people who live in rodent-infested houses probably shouldn't throw vermin comments. Peter Weber

April 1, 2019

On Sunday morning's Fox & Friends, co-hosts Pete Hegseth and Ed Henry poked fun at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) for saying Friday that Congress passed the 22nd Amendment to prevent President Franklin Roosevelt from seeking a fifth term — in fact, Congress approved it two years after FDR's death, in response to his truncated four-term presidency. But then Fox & Friends posted a chyron saying President Trump was seeking to cut off aid to "3 Mexican Countries," not three Central American nations, and Ocasio-Cortez got the last laugh.

Henry apologized after what he called the "inaccurate graphic onscreen" went viral, saying "we apologize for the error — it never should've happened." But Ocasio-Cortez wasn't the only person mocking Fox News. A common critique was that the mistake apparently reflected how Fox News views Latin Americans — all the same — and there were also gibes that the network might want to hire a more diverse staff and concerns about Fox News' quality control. At CNN, media critic Brian Stelter was momentarily speechless, but tied it to larger concerns about the strange coziness between Fox News and Trump.

This is a good reminder that we all make mistakes, and maybe it's best to mock carefully lest ye be mocked. Peter Weber

March 12, 2019

Donald Trump Jr., the presidential son with the good judgment, decided Tuesday evening to comment on the college admissions bribery scandal that has ensnared — and in some cases briefly jailed — 33 wealthy parents, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.

Well, you know what they say about glass houses. Trump père biographer and Bloomberg Opinion executive editor Tim O'Brien threw a few stones back at Trump fils:

He wasn't done:

You can read more about President Trump's auspiciously timed Penn/Wharton benefaction at The Daily Pennsylvanian and about Jared Kushner's father Charles Kushner's 1998 pledge of $2.5 million to Harvard University at ProPublica. ProPublica editor Daniel Golden uncovered the Kushner story in a 2006 book, The Price of Admission, which, he writes, "exposed a grubby secret of American higher education: That the rich buy their under-achieving children's way into elite universities with massive, tax-deductible donations."

Which is to say, there's a legal way to do what Loughlin, Huffman, and those 31 other parents allegedly did to get their children into elite universities, but you're not going to be able to do it with mere "Hollywood" money. Peter Weber

February 14, 2019

Jake Tapper got a little saucy on CNN Wednesday afternoon when discussing Republican calls for Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to be punished for what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Democratic leaders called "anti-Semitic tropes" about Jews and money.

Omar apologized for her tweet suggesting congressional support for Israel is "all about the Benjamins" from AIPAC and American Jews, but her apology "was not good enough for President Trump" or Vice President Mike Pence, Tapper said, showing the footage of Trump saying Omar should resign and Pence's "amen" tweet. "Because there is nothing that this White House finds more offensive than a politician feeding into stereotypes about Jews and Jewish money and controlling politicians, which is what Congresswoman Omar is accused of having done."

This was dry, dark humor, as Tapper demonstrated with a series of similarly trope-y clips and tweets from Trump and other Republicans, fed to him by his "rogue" control room. "I'm sorry, we're going to take a quick break," he deadpanned. "We seem to have some issues here sorting out which anti-Semitic tropes are offensive are offensive and which ones are not."

Pelosi also shot down suggestions that Omar be removed from her committees or otherwise punished, telling CNN that it took Republicans "13 years to notice Steve King," the unapologetic GOP congressman from Iowa, and Trump and his allies "do not have clean hands" when it comes to anti-Semitism.

And as for Omar herself, after tweeting back at Trump, she had no further comment. Peter Weber

February 20, 2015

Late Thursday, Mother Jones published an article accusing Fox News host Bill O'Reilly of having his own "Brian Williams problem," exaggerating his war stories, especially regarding Argentina's 1982 Falkland Islands war with Britain but also covering El Salvador a year earlier. At the time, O'Reilly was a reporter for CBS News.

"O'Reilly did not respond to multiple requests for comment," note Mother Jones' David Corn and Daniel Schulman, but the Fox News star did respond via other news outlets. To Politico, O'Reilly called Corn a "liar" and the article "a piece of garbage," and said that he never claimed he was on the Faukland Islands themselves. "I was in Buenos Aires," O'Reilly told Dylan Byers. "In Buenos Aires we were in a combat situation after the Argentines surrendered."

Corn and Schulman go back and look at the reports from Buenos Aires, and they judge that O'Reilly greatly exaggerated his heroism in his later retellings of the post-war street clashes as well. They interviewed reporters who were in Buenos Aires with O'Reilly, and they have video footage so you can decide for yourself:

O'Reilly is now an opinion purveyor, not a straight journalist, but as Brian Stelter pointed out on CNN Thursday night, O'Reilly is the No. 1 opinion anchor while Williams was the No. 1 network news anchor, making O'Reilly "the Brian Williams of cable news." Peter Weber

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