At the Pennsylvania rally held April 29US President Donald Trump launched a ferocious attack on US media, dismissing criticism as ‘fake news’. 

In front of a cheering crowd, Trump stated that he was keeping his promises, saying the media should be given “a big, fat, failing grade” over their coverage of his accomplishments during his first 100 days in office.

Donald J. Trump refused to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, becoming the first US President in 36 years to skip the event since Ronald Reagan failed to appear due to injury. 

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner is organized every year with the aim to balance the differences and depolarize the day-to-day dynamics between reporters and the White House. This year’s ‘nerd dinner’ was attended mostly by political actors, rather than Hollywood celebrities. 

Moreover, Trump told his supporters he was “thrilled to be more than 100 miles from Washington”, adding that “a large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling themselves” at the correspondents’ dinner “that will be very boring”.

In his address at the Washington dinner, Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason defended his profession, saying it was “our job to report on facts, and to hold leaders accountable”.

“We are not ‘fake news’. We are not failing news organizations, and we are not the enemy of the American people,” Mason further added.

Trump’s approval ratings hover at around the 40% mark – believed to be lower than any other president at the 100-day marker.

Regarding his election pledges, Mr Trump said the first 100 days had been “very exciting and very productive”.

A large rally was held earlier against Trump’s climate change policy. He defended his stance by promising that “a big decision” would be taken within the next two weeks. Despite all claims, plans and promises, the construction of the Mexico wall has been stalled along with several other proposals. 

“We’ll build the wall, folks, don’t even worry about it,” the president said.

Apropos the promise to label China a currency manipulator, he said now was not “the best time.”

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“We’re not Fake News!”

On April 30, 2017, in DCView, PoliticalView, by Focus Washington

The 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner – the first in decades without a keynote by a sitting President – was a response by the media to the charge that they, as a whole, are fake news.

“The Media is not Fake News,” said Woodward and Bernstein, the two celebrated journalists who uncovered the Watergate Scandal. The choice of delivering this message through journalists who brought down a sitting president is certainly not accidental. At the very least, it is a reaffirmation of basic postulates of the role of a free press in democracy. At most, it is a covert threat to President Trump to building the case for impeachment.

To say that mainstream media and the Trump Administration have developed a strained relationship is an understatement. With the exception of Fox News, Trump has repeatedly called the media, and specifically journalists on the White House beat, “fake news” – an apparent tactical move to counter the narrative that it was fake news spread about his political opponents that helped him win the Presidency.

But, in fact, other political considerations notwithstanding, it was perhaps less ‘fake news’ that contributed to Trump’s win, but the uneasy attraction that the media had for him while covering the presidential elections. All his shocking statements about core foreign policy positions, his dismissive nicknames for his political opponents, his racist, misogynistic, anti-immigrant rhetoric – all of that was covered, focusing otherwise scarce media time on candidate Trump.

There have been several moments when the media had a mea culpa – a moment of “what have we done?” Many expected that the White House Correspondents’ Dinner would be a more forceful call to arms. The start of a drumbeat to counter a dangerous tendency in American and indeed global politics to stifle a free press.

Woodward and Bernstein did share a few lessons. “Almost inevitably,” Bernstein said, “unreasonable government secrecy is the enemy, and usually the giveaway about what the real story might be. And when lying is combined with secrecy, there’s usually a pretty good road map in front of us.”

Perhaps so, but then, for such high stakes, more light on the road ahead and louder voices calling forward are necessary. Events such as the Correspondents’ Dinner could have served such a purpose. Unfortunately, this did not happen.

By Chuck Conconi

When President Trump, surrounded by representatives of the coal mining industry, signed his photo-op executive order cutting President Obama’s environmental regulations that had impacted the industry, he boasted: “My action today is the latest in a series to create American jobs … We will put our miners back to work.”

President Trump was joined by his E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, left, and coal industry workers on Tuesday as he signed an executive order rolling back previous U.S. climate change commitments. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

It was an empty prediction, but to coal mining families in depressed areas of such states as Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky, Trump was fulfilling a promised he made during his campaign. It was why so many of them had voted for the billionaire who lived in a gilded tower in New York City. They believed he was going to bring back coal.

What Trump said ignores the reality of a dying industry. Competition from automation and other energy sources, especially natural gas, is having a devastating impact on coal production employment.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States presently produces nearly 50 percent more coal than it did in 1940. And it achieves that level of production with about 13 percent of the miners employed then.

I grew up in coal country in Ohio. Both of my grandfathers immigrated to the United States from Italy to work in the mines. Every male in my family including my father and my uncles were coal miners. Both grandfathers died young. My father, who was 11-years-old, when his father died, always believed he died from the deadly coal dust disease known as black lung.

Coal was king. In the autumn months, trucks would lumber down neighborhood streets to dump a winter supply of coal into the basements of virtually every home and there was a comforting odor to the coal smoke that blunted the impact of cold winter nights.

After the United Mine Workers Union battles of the 1930s and 1940s, a man could make a good wage working in the mines. He didn’t even need to have finished high school. My father and uncles left school after the eighth grade. They were able to afford to get married, own a home and buy a car.

It was a dangerous place to work, but there was a certain bravado about being miner, working in an environment that was dangerous: It was something like being a forest fire fighter or an Army paratrooper. I often sat and listened as they would get together in a Miners’ Union Hall drinking beer and telling stories about cave-ins and explosions they had survived.

My father and two of my uncles did leave the mines for factory work. One uncle had his chest crushed in one accident and later his back broken when a rock fell on him. He spent more than a year in a full-body cast and wanted to return to the mines when he recovered, but that was not possible.

My generation escaped the mines. By the time I was growing up, the deep mines had given way to strip mining – a fast and environmentally devastating way to extract the coal, leaving ugly cuts into the hills and dumping slag debris that polluted streams and a landscape where little or nothing would grow.

My experience was different from all those families in places like West Virginia and Kentucky. They believed the jobs would continue to be there even as automation and cheaper natural gas and environmental concerns made coal a less attractive energy source.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of this February, there were only 50,300 working in the coal industry. A Washington Post article on the coal industry quoting figures from the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns comparing the coal industry with other employments, points out that Arby’s restaurants employ nearly 80,000; J.C. Penney some 114,000, and Walmart, 2.2 million.

People working in those service industry jobs don’t make nearly the wages that can be earned mining coal, but they are not dying industries. In the areas where coal had thrived, entire communities now suffer. If coal mining families don’t have the money to spend, there is an impact on local restaurants, stores and auto dealerships.

Unfortunately, President Trump’s reducing of regulations will have minimal impact. Initially there may be a few more jobs added, but the reality is that King Coal is dying and the answers aren’t in eliminating mine safety or environmental pollution regulations. The answers are in finding new ways to attract other industry and in education and training for those depressed areas. Photo-ops are easy. Finding real answers, like fixing health care, are difficult.


Young women gathered on March 30th at the Washington Examiner’s Women Who Lead event to hear from some of the most influential women in Washington.

Kellyanne Conway kicked off the event with an interview with Salena Zito, national correspondent for the Washington Examiner. Conway discussed the path that led her to her position at the White House, expressing gratitude to the many women from across the country who reached out in support, and for the guidance from those in the President’s inner circle.

“It was a very personal decision. People kept asking me on live TV what was I going to do,” Conway said. “But I started hearing from women all over the country – mostly complimentary things – and after discussing the decision with my family, the president, the first lady, the vice president and the second lady, I really felt that the best thing I could do was to heed that call and do a tour in the White House.”

After earning her law degree, Conway worked for several Republican politicians, including former Vice President Dan Quayle, before launching her own polling business in the 1990s. The only daughter of a single mother, Conway she said she was surrounded by strong female role models growing up. The mother of four was the first woman to run a successful political campaign; she is now in her third month serving as adviser to President Trump.

“I think women can do it all, just not all at the same time.” Conway said, referring to her various roles as mother, businesswoman, and now Presidential adviser.

Selena Zito also sat down with Representative Diane Black (R-TN); Lara M. Brown, Ph.D. of the George Washington Graduate School of Political Management; and Sarah Chamberlain, President and CEO of Republican Main Street Partnership. The women discussed their various roles in politics and the private sector and offered stories of how they got to the powerful positions they now occupy.

Teamwork was a resounding theme that each of the female panelists emphasized as a key part of each of their successes.

Rep. Black encouraged young women to become experts in their fields in order to have their voices heard in the male-dominated political arena. She also encouraged women to be more creative in working around some of the barriers to running for office, like fundraising and recruiting.

Focus Washington staffers were pleased to attend the event with Kellyanne Conway.

“Jump in.” Was Dr. Brown’s message to the room full of young women. She noted that the Democratic party has a much higher percentage of females holding office within the party; and while Republican recruitment is improving, due to efforts from women like Rep. Black, it is important for women to take the first step rather than wait to be asked.

Sarah Chamberlain and Main Street Advocacy have been working to raise money for women who want to run and their Women2Women conversation tour is designed to recruit more Republican women to run for office. She spoke to the evolution of the male members of Main Street Advocacy and their recent appointment of Rep. Susan Brooks to the steering committee.



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