Trump targets Jemele Hill following ESPN anchor’s suspension

Donald Trump lashed out at ESPN anchor Jemele Hill on Tuesday morning, one day after she was suspended by her employer for her public criticism of two NFL owners’ directives over silent player protests during the national anthem.

The Disney-owned broadcaster suspended Hill for two weeks on Monday for a series of tweets in response to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ comments that he would have benched any Cowboys player who “disrespects the flag” by kneeling during the national anthem. Hill had previously tweeted that Trump is a “bigot” and “a white supremacist”.

Hill, who had said that those who took objection to Jones’ remark should look at the team’s advertisers, later tweeted that she was not urging an NFL boycott but pointing out the “unfair burden” for players on teams with rules against protesting the anthem. She also referenced Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, whose team will now be required to stand for the anthem or remain in the locker room after “Trump changed that whole paradigm of what protest is”.

Trump took aim at the ESPN veteran in a tweet on Tuesday morning, writing: “With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have ‘tanked,’ in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!”

Hill’s co-anchor on the nightly SportsCenter highlight show, Michael Smith, sat out Monday night’s telecast in a decision a network source characterized as mutually made by Smith and ESPN. He will anchor the show alone for the duration of Hill’s suspension, the network said.

“Jemele Hill has been suspended for two weeks for a second violation of our social media guidelines,” the network said in a statement. “She previously acknowledged letting her colleagues and company down with an impulsive tweet. In the aftermath, all employees were reminded of how individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such actions would have consequences. Hence this decision.”

Hill’s initial criticisms of Trump last month prompted also a response from the White House, albeit through press secretary Sarah Sanders, who said during a briefing that Hill’s comments about Trump were “a fireable offense by ESPN”.

“I think that’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make,” Sanders said at the time.

The NFL Players Association has defended players’ right to protest.

Trump’s former Democratic rival in the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton, also backed the players, saying in a speech on Monday, “They are protesting racism and injustice, and they have every right to do so.”

The president continued his broadside on the National Football League in a separate tweet on Tuesday morning, saying the league should not be given tax breaks, a long-simmering controversy surrounding America’s richest league, which is expected to take in $14bn in revenue this year.

“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!” Trump wrote.

It was not clear what exactly Trump was demanding, and representatives for the White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The NFL gave up its federal tax-exempt status in 2015, according to media reports, although US states and localities still offer the multi-billion dollar league tax breaks in order to attract teams and to finance stadiums.

Trump has been on a tear for weeks against NFL players who kneel during the national anthem played before games, saying the gesture disrespects the country. His strongly worded call last month for players who did this to be fired touched off an initially sharp response, including from some team owners and coaches.

The players’ silent demonstration, which began last year in protest against police violence toward racial minorities, was embraced more widely in reaction to Trump’s more recent comments, with more players taking the knee while others chose to lock arms.

A number of Republican lawmakers suggested in September that tax sweeteners should end given the protests, the Washington Post reported.

On Sunday, vice president Mike Pence walked out of an NFL game after some players knelt. The next day, Trump himself invoked the episode in a fundraising email.

Critics of Trump, a Republican, have said he is fanning a controversy over the national anthem at NFL games to distract from pressing issues his administration is dealing with, from a powerful hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico to tensions with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

The first amendment of the US Constitution bars the government from limiting free speech, including prohibiting protests around the national anthem or punishing people who choose not to stand. The national anthem is played before every NFL football game and many other sporting events.

[The Guardian]

Trump calls for tax law changes for NFL over protests

President Donald Trump on Tuesday called for changes to U.S. tax law affecting the National Football League, fueling a feud with the league and its players over protests that he says disrespect the nation.

“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.

The world’s top-grossing sports league gave up its tax-free status two years ago. Its owners are preparing to address the anthem issue at their fall meeting in New York Oct. 17-18, NFL chief spokesman Joe Lockhart told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday.

“Everyone at this point is frustrated by the situation,” Lockhart said. “The commissioner and the owners do want the players to stand. We think it is an important part of the game.”

The protests, in a league where African Americans make up the majority of players, have continued through the season, with some players taking a knee when the anthem is played and others standing arm-in-arm in solidarity.

Current policy calls for players to stand for the anthem and face the flag, but no player has been disciplined for a protest, Lockhart said.

“We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo to team owners.

The White House supported the idea of asking players to stand, said spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

“We are glad to see the NFL taking positive steps in that direction,” she said at a news briefing.

Asked to explain Trump’s comment on the NFL and taxes, Sanders said, “The federal tax law doesn’t apply here, but certainly we know that they receive tax subsidies on a variety of different levels.”

Trump last month called on NFL team owners to fire players who kneel during the anthem to protest police violence against black Americans.

Critics contend Trump is fanning the controversy to distract from issues including devastation in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, tensions with North Korea and difficulties in pushing healthcare and tax overhauls through the U.S. Congress.

Vice President Mike Pence walked out of a NFL game on Sunday after some players knelt, an action some critics called a publicity stunt.

Trump won the presidency with less support from black voters than any other president in at least four decades.

Trump has squared off against the NFL before, having owned a team in the upstart United States Football League in the 1980s. That league folded in 1985 after an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL failed.

Trump has refused to disclose his own tax history, departing from a practice of U.S. presidents going back more than 40 years. Trump has said nobody cares about his tax returns, but critics say they could show conflicts of interest.


Trump Lashes Out at GOP Sen. Corker — Who Then Calls White House ‘an Adult Day Care Center’

President Donald Trump and Sen. Bob Corker traded jabs in a series of tweets on Sunday, with the president first saying the Tennessee Republican “didn’t have the guts to run” for re-election and Corker then calling the White House “an adult day care center.”

Later on Sunday, in an interview with The New York Times, Corker suggested Trump was putting the nation on the path to “World War III” and said Trump acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”

Trump tweeted Sunday morning that Corker “begged” him to endorse him to re-election and the president said “NO.” Trump then said that Corker dropped out because he did not think he could win without his endorsement.

“He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said “NO THANKS,” Trump wrote in another tweet.

In a third tweet, Trump said that hence he would expect Corker to “be a negative voice” and stand in the way of his political agenda, adding that the Tennessee senator “Didn’t have the guts to run!”

Corker fired back, tweeting that “the White House has become an adult day care center” and that “Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

The Twitter feud came after Corker said earlier this week that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly “are those people that help separate our country from chaos.”

“I deal with people throughout the administration and he from my perspective is in an incredibly frustrating place,” Corker said of Tillerson, later adding, “He ends up not being supportive in the way that I would hope a Secretary of State would be supported, and that’s just from my vantage point.”

“They work very well together to make sure the policies we put forth across the world are, you know, sound and coherent,” he said of Tillerson, Mattis and Kelly. “There are other people within the administration in my belief that don’t. OK? Sorry,” he said with a laugh.

Corker told The Times that he is concerned about Trump and said that many of his fellow Senate Republicans shared those concerns.

“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” Corker said. “Of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

He added that Trump has hurt American diplomacy and negotiations with his Twitter usage.

“I don’t think he appreciates that when the president of the United States speaks and says the things that he does the impact that it has around the world, especially in the region that he’s addressing,” Corker said. “And so, yeah, it’s concerning to me.”

A top aide for Corker also refuted Trump’s tweets, saying that the president called Corker on Monday afternoon and asked that the senator reconsider his decision not to run for re-election.

“Last week President Trump called Senator Corker and asked him to reconsider his decision not to seek re-election and said I would have endorsed you,” Corker’s Chief of Staff Todd Womack told NBC News on Sunday.

Womack said Corker and Trump had a similar conversation in September, when Trump said he would campaign for Corker if he decided to run again.

He also took issue with Trump’s comment regarding the Iran nuclear deal, where the president said Corker was “also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!”

“We led the opposition to the Iran deal and there would have been no vote in Congress had it not been for Corker’s bill,” Womack said, referring to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.

“We forced a vote on the Iran deal, [the Obama Administration’s] plan was to go around Congress,” Womack said.

Womack characterized Corker as an opponent to the deal.

Nevertheless, Trump tweeted later on Sunday afternoon that Corker “gave us the Iran Deal, & that’s about it.”

“We need HealthCare, we need Tax Cuts/Reform, we need people that can get the job done!” he said.

Earlier Sunday, before the Corker tweets, Mick Mulvaney, the White House’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he enjoys working with Corker and, now that he isn’t seeking re-election, “I think it sort of unleashes him to do whatever, and say whatever, he wants to say.”

“But I don’t think we’re that close to chaos anyway,” he said, adding, “I’m in the White House every single day and I’ve never seen the chaos that gets reported outside. I’ve never seen the infighting, the back-biting.”

Late last month, Corker announced that he would not see re-election, fueling speculation that he might challenge the president in a GOP primary.

And Sunday’s comments come after reports last week that Tillerson was on the verge of resigning this past summer amid mounting policy disputes and clashes with the White House.

[NBC News]



Trump: ‘Only one thing will work’ with North Korea

President Trump on Saturday continued to dismiss a diplomatic approach in handling North Korea’s escalating nuclear ambitions, saying “only one thing will work.”

“Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings fools of U.S. negotiators,” Trump wrote in tweets.

“Sorry, but only one thing will work!” he added.

Trump’s tweets alluding to possible military action in dealing with the crisis on the Korean Peninsula echoed his comments last Sunday in which he argued that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with North Korea.

The president said that his administration would “do what has to be done” in response to actions from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom he referred to as “Little Rocket Man.”

Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang have remained heightened in recent months, though relations between Trump and Tillerson have also gained fresh interest recently amid differing comments on the U.S. approach to North Korea.

Tillerson held a hastily-scheduled press conference on Wednesday to push back on reports that he considered resigning over the summer. Trump later expressed confidence in his chief diplomat, and officials emphasized that the administration was working together.

North Korea has put the international community on alert in recent months after testing a series of intercontinental ballistic missiles, including two over Japanese airspace.

Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea on the floor of the United Nations last month, prompting the country’s foreign minister to threaten to test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean.

[The Hill]

Trump Continues Attack on NBC News: ‘Not #1’

President Donald Trump on Saturday continued to criticize NBC News over the network’s reporting that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called him a “moron” earlier this summer, and its subsequent reporting on chaos that engulfed the administration in its wake.

“More.@NBCNews is so knowingly inaccurate with their reporting,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “The good news is that the PEOPLE get it, which is really all that matters! Not #1”

Since the report, Trump has said he has total confidence in Tillerson.

Tillerson scheduled a rare press conference Wednesday where he denied that he had to be talked into staying on the job, while not explicitly denying he used the “moron” epithet. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert later added that the secretary would never use such language.

The president has repeatedly denied the Tillerson report, characterizing it as “fake news.”


Trump believes the report was “fake news” because NBC never confirmed the report with him. However, Rex Tillerson specifically never denied calling Trump a “fucking moron” and if one were to read the NBC article, Tillerson made the comment behind his back, so how could Trump even be aware of Tillerson’s comment to confirm it?

Trump Incorrectly Cites FCC Equal Time Rule in Dig at ‘Unfunny’ Late-Night Comedians

President Donald Trump mused Saturday morning about whether he and his fellow Republicans should receive equal time on TV due to what he sees as consistently unfair coverage from late-night comedians.

“Late Night host are dealing with the Democrats for their very “unfunny” & repetitive material, always anti-Trump! Should we get Equal Time?” Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday.

He later added: “More and more people are suggesting that Republicans (and me) should be given Equal Time on T.V. when you look at the one-sided coverage?”

Trump appears to be referencing the FCC’s “equal time” rule, which has been applied to broadcast TV and radio stations and locally originated cable TV. The rule requires broadcasters to treat legally qualified political candidates fairly both in free air time from appearances and paid advertising, with exemptions for programs like newscasts.

The president also seemed to be inferring that the equal time provision would apply to commentaries, like Kimmel’s monologues on health care, which have lambasted the president and Republicans.

Jimmy Kimmel, host of ABC’s late night show, responded to the president on Twitter by jokingly agreeing that Trump should have more time on TV, if he did one thing: quit the presidency.

“You should quit that boring job – I’ll let you have my show ALL to yourself #MAGA,” Kimmel wrote.



Trump sent this tweet after watching a segment on Fox News on the exact same subject.


Two things, first, Trump is on television every day. CNN, MSNBC, Fox, CBS, ABC, Bloomberg, and every other new station can’t stop talking about him.

And second, the Equal time rule has to do only with political candidates, Trump might be talking about the “Fairness Doctrine” which itself only deals with the discussion of controversial issues. Of course this difference is something a President should know.

Sanders lashes out at San Juan mayor for ‘making political statements’ instead of ‘helping her constituents’

When veteran White House correspondent April Ryan asked Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about President Donald Trump’s “very controversial” visit to Puerto Rico earlier this week, the press secretary chose to attack San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz.

“Actually, it wasn’t controversial, and was widely praised,” Sanders said of the president’s visit in which he blamed the island territory for “throwing [the U.S.] budget out of whack” and compared their death toll to that of Hurricane Katrina.

“I think that it is sad that the mayor of San Juan chose to make that a political statement instead of a time of focusing on the relief efforts,” the press secretary continued.

Trump invited Cruz to a meeting of mayors with San Juan’s governor, Sanders continued, claiming Cruz did not speak up during the meeting and ask for what she needed.

“I hope next time she’s given the opportunity to help her constituents, she’ll take it,” Sanders concluded. She did not address the president’s own attacks on Cruz.



Trump Says Military Gathering Might Be ‘Calm Before the Storm’

U.S. President Donald Trump offered cryptic remarks Thursday night while posing for photos with military leaders, saying the gathering might represent “the calm before the storm.”

He made the comments among senior military leaders and their spouses in the White House State Dining Room ahead of a dinner expected to include the discussion of a range of national security issues.

“You guys know what this represents?” Trump asked assembled members of the media. “Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.”

Asked repeatedly by reporters to clarify his comments, Trump said, “You’ll find out.”

During a meeting with military leaders earlier in the afternoon, Trump said his administration was focused on “challenges that we really should have taken care of a long time ago, like North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, ISIS, and the revisionist powers that threaten our interests all around the world.”

During those remarks, the president also appeared to issue a vague threat toward the regime in North Korea, which has antagonized the U.S. president with a series of nuclear and ballistic-missile tests.

“We cannot allow this dictatorship to threaten our nation or our allies with unimaginable loss of life,” Trump said. “We will do what we must do to prevent that from happening. And it will be done, if necessary — believe me.”



A White House aide told reporters at Axios, which has incredible access, that the most likely scenario is Trump was just trolling the media.

Trump’s chilling escalation of his war with the media

On Thursday, President Donald Trump escalated his ongoing one-sided war with the media.

He did it, of course, via Twitter. “Why Isn’t the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up – FAKE!” Trump tweeted.

Let’s be clear about what Trump is suggesting here. He wants the Senate intelligence committee to open an investigation into the “Fake News Networks” to get to the bottom of why so much of the news is “just made up.” He offers no evidence of this claim. And yet, the President of the United States feels entirely comfortable urging the legislative branch to open an investigation into the Fourth Estate.

The reason? Because Trump doesn’t like what the media writes about him. That’s what he means when he uses the word “fake” — and he uses it a lot. “Fake” for Trump is rightly translated as “not fawning.” (The committee, by the way, is already investigating real fake news targeted by Russians on the US as part of their larger examination of Russian meddling in the run-up to the 2016 US election.)

The truth — as hundreds of fact checks have shown — is that the biggest purveyor of fake news in the country right now is Trump. According to The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog, Trump has made 1,145 false or misleading claims in his first 232 days in office. That’s 4.9 false or misleading statements per day.

Trump’s casual relationship with the truth makes his calls for the legislative branch to investigate the allegedly “fake news” industry all the more outlandish. Yes, the media — including me — do occasionally get things wrong. But, in virtually every case, those mistakes are honest ones — slip-ups made in an honest pursuit of the truth. And, when an error is found, steps are made to publicly remedy the mistake to keep misinformation from seeping into the public’s consciousness.

Can Trump say the same? The answer, of course, is no. He not only spreads falsehoods but does so long after it’s become clear that what he is saying is simply not true. Why does he do it? For the same reason he has made attacking the “fake news” media his primary daily duty. Because it works — or, at least, it works to motivate his political base, which believes whatever he says (facts be damned!) and is convinced the media is comprised primarily of liberals trying to push their agenda behind the guise of neutrality.

It’s worth noting here that Trump is far from the first president to have his issues with the media. Virtually every president has an adversarial relationship with the press. The difference with Trump is that he seems not to believe in the fundamental role that a free press plays in a democracy and spends a good chunk of his time working to discredit and disenfranchise the media.


Trump Claims NBC News Report Tillerson Almost Quit is Fake News

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that he has never considered resigning his position, disputing an NBC News report that he was on the verge of such a move over the summer.

“The vice president has never had to persuade me to remain as secretary of state because I have never considered leaving this post,” Tillerson said in remarks delivered from the State Department.

Tillerson did not directly address whether he had called Trump a “moron,” as NBC reported. “We don’t deal with that kind of petty nonsense,” he said when asked about the report.

“Let me tell you what I have learned about this president, whom I did not know before taking this office: He loves his country. He puts Americans and America first,” the secretary of state and former ExxonMobil CEO said. “He’s smart. He demands results wherever he goes and he holds those around him accountable for whether they’ve done the job he’s asked them to do.”

Tillerson told reporters that he had not spoken to Trump Wednesday morning.

Shortly after Tillerson’s statement, Trump tweeted, “The @NBCNews story has just been totally refuted by Sec. Tillerson and @VP Pence. It is #FakeNews. They should issue an apology to AMERICA!”

NBC News reported Wednesday that Tillerson had referred to Trump as a “moron” after a meeting at the Pentagon last July with members of the president’s national security team. Citing multiple unnamed sources, the network reported that the secretary of state was close to resigning in the wake of the president’s controversial, political speech at a Boy Scouts of America jamboree and only remained in his job after discussions with Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials.

Trump has butted heads at times with his top diplomat, most recently last weekend on Twitter, where the president appeared to undercut Tillerson, who had said a day earlier that the U.S. was in direct communication with North Korea in an effort to reduce tensions over its nuclear ambitions. “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump tweeted. “Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”

Despite the back-and-forth between Trump and Tillerson, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said earlier this week that the president retained confidence in his secretary of state.

Tillerson has appeared to break ranks with the president at other critical moments. Last August, he told “Fox News Sunday” that “the president speaks for himself” when asked about Trump’s equivocating response to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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