brave new world
June 23, 2017

CNN has a new weapon in the ongoing war between the media and the White House: a court room sketch artist.

On Friday, the press was banned from bringing cameras into the daily briefing with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, so CNN sent its sketch artist, Bill Hennessy, to illustrate the scene. "Some conservative media voices dismissed it as a stunt," CNN writes, "but CNN argued that the sketch session did serve a journalistic purpose, in the same way that courtroom sketches do. CNN equated the briefing to a Supreme Court argument — an on-the-record event at which cameras are banned."

The White House hasn't been clear about why it is increasingly banning cameras from the briefings — Spicer said it's because he doesn't want reporters using the briefings to become YouTube stars (?), while White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon alleged it's because Spicer "got fatter" (??).

While you won't get to enjoy any of Spicer's signature irritation or moans of "Seaaaaan" from the reporters, this will have to do. Jeva Lange

February 3, 2017

George Orwell's 1984 is getting the Broadway treatment, The New York Times reports. After the novel sold out online and shot up bestseller lists following President Donald Trump's inauguration, American producer Scott Rudin and British producer Sonia Friedman announced Thursday evening that they will be bringing an adaptation of the dystopian classic to Broadway beginning June 22.

The show has been staged around Britain and has gone on an international tour, prompting the Los Angeles Times' theater critic to describe it as "current and terrifying." Jeva Lange

January 31, 2017

Just like the royal families of yore, President Donald Trump has decided to temporarily flee to his winter residence rather than endure Washington, D.C.'s highs of 51, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday. Trump will travel to "the Winter White House," also known as his Mar-a-Lago resort, on Friday and stay for the entirety of the weekend.

Of course, the Winter White House is not to be confused with "White House North." Jeva Lange

January 27, 2017

President Donald Trump filed for re-election just five hours after he was sworn in as commander-in-chief on Inauguration Day, the Free Beacon's Lachlan Markay discovered Friday:

By comparison:

Start your engines! Jeva Lange

January 25, 2017

The United States of America is no longer a full democracy, the Economist Intelligence Unit has ruled. The freedom watchdog demoted the U.S. from "full democracy," the highest level of freedom, to "flawed democracy" on Wednesday. It is the first time ever that the U.S. has dropped below being a "full democracy," CNBC reports. The global Democracy Index has two lower distinctions available after "flawed": "hybrid regime" and the lowest, "authoritarian regime."

The Democracy Index makes its evaluation on 167 countries in the world by assessing five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation, and political culture. Scoring above an 8.00 qualifies a nation as a full democracy, but the U.S. dipped to 7.98 from 8.05 in 2016, CNBC reports.

The report made clear that the change in America's number is not due to President Donald Trump alone. "The U.S. has been teetering on the brink of becoming a flawed democracy for several years, and even if there had been no presidential election in 2016, its score would have slipped below 8.00," the report said. "Trust in political institutions is an essential component of well-functioning democracies. Yet surveys by Pew, Gallup, and other polling agencies have confirmed that public confidence in government has slumped to historic lows in the U.S. This has had a corrosive effect on the quality of democracy."

Full democracies in 2016 included Norway, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Other flawed democracies included France, Singapore, South Korea, and India. Jeva Lange

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