Patterico's Pontifications


Our Bifurcated Media Rides Again

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:50 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Here is a great lesson in how this country is dividing up into Fox News consumers and CNN consumers (in the interest of keeping this post as succinct as my prolix musings can ever be, let’s for the time being lump MSNBC in with CNN and allow CNN to serve as a proxy for both). Note the lede paragraphs of each site and how they subtly spin the news to fit their own preferred narrative. Bolded emphasis in all cases is provided by me:

Note, all of these quotes below were taken from the stories as they appeared at 1:50 pm Pacific Time, even though this post probably won’t be published until later in the day. By the time you read this, the articles at the links could have been substantially revised

Here’s how CNN sees things:

The Justice Department is dropping the criminal case against President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, whose lies about his contacts with Russia prompted Trump to fire him three years ago and special counsel Robert Mueller to flip him to cooperate in the Russia investigation.

The request to drop the case, filed with a federal judge in DC District Court on Thursday, is a sudden end to a protracted legal battle that’s lately been fertile ground for Trump to attack the early Russia investigation and former FBI leadership he dislikes.

The court must still formally approve the request.

Flynn twice, before two separate judges, affirmed his December 2017 agreement to plead guilty to charges that he lied to the FBI about his interactions with the then-Russian ambassador during the Trump presidential transition. But last year, he fired his original defense team and waged a campaign to try to get a judge to reverse his guilty plea.

Here’s the same breaking news article from Fox News:

The Justice Department on Thursday moved to drop its case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, in a stunning development that comes after internal memos were released raising serious questions about the nature of the investigation that led to Flynn’s late 2017 guilty plea of lying to the FBI.

The announcement came in a court filing “after a considered review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information,” as the department put it. DOJ officials said they concluded that Flynn’s interview by the FBI was “untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn” and that the interview was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.”

The federal judge overseeing the case would have to make the final determination to dismiss it.

The Justice Department’s characterization of the Flynn interview as “untethered to” and “unjustified by” the investigation is also quoted by CNN in paragraphs six and seven of their report, after they have informed us about how much the President and his team have resented the prosecution. Conversely, Fox News refuses to directly characterize Flynn’s testimony as lying, writing merely that he pled guilty to lying but has been trying to withdraw the plea ever since. Fox News, which admittedly has a much longer story than it’s chief competitor, also covers the reports from last week that “FBI agents” (i.e., Peter Strzok) had hoped to entrap General Flynn in a lie, which seems to be a subtle attempt to call into question the legitimacy of the whole operation to begin with. CNN’s story, in turn, points out that “[t]he Flynn filing was not signed by any career prosecutors at the Justice Department. Instead, the motion to dismiss was signed only by the politically appointed US Attorney Timothy Shea,” which I read as a dismissal of the motion as self-serving by the Trump Administration.

I guess that in the end we should celebrate the fact that we have two influential yet divergent media outlets reporting the same story, otherwise we would be China or Venezuela. But it says a great deal about our times that the same news article can be written from two starkly different points of view. It’s an important reminder that “news” articles are no longer designed to be viewpoint neutral, if indeed they ever were.


DoJ to Drop Case Against Flynn

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:07 pm

News breaking in the last hour:

I said ten days ago that I suspected Barr was putting his thumb on the scale:

I no longer trust the United States Department of Justice.

You don’t need to issue pardons if you have a hatchet man as AG to do your dirty work for you.

Now “Durham is coming”:

Disgusting. All of it.

To me, the only interesting question is whether more AUSAs will resign.

UPDATE: I don’t hold out a lot of hope for this development, but Judge Sullivan *could* deny the motion:

I would love to see that happen, but I am not holding my breath. More likely he grants it after a hearing with tough questions and caustic comments.

Texas Salon Owner Defies Stay-At-Home Orders, Sentenced to Seven Days In Jail and Fines

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:34 am

[guest posted by Dana]

The owner of a Dallas hair salon ignored stay-at-home orders , and paid the price for her defiance:

Salon À la Mode owner Shelley Luther was sentenced to seven days in jail for criminal and civil contempt and a $7,000 fine today for defying Governor Greg Abbott’s stay-at-home rules.

Dallas Judge Eric Moye found Luther continued to operate her hair salon in violation of the governor’s order and in violation of a restraining order from the court.

She and her business are also each being fined $500 for every day… seven in all so far… that it was open in violation of the governor’s order. Judge Moye said the salon would continue to rack up a $500 fine for every day it remains open between now and Friday – when Abbott has said all salons can open.

Last week, Luther received a cease-and-desist letter from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins ordering her to close the salon — and she publicly ripped it up. In defying the order, Luther has gained many supporters, among them the Open Texas movement.

Judge Eric Moye had offered Luther an alternative to jail time: apologize for her actions and acknowledge that she had selfishly put herself before the community, and keep her business closed until the state-approved reopening date (this Friday). Luther turned down his offer, telling the court:

I have much respect for this court and laws. I have never been in this position before and it’s not someplace that I want to be. But I have to disagree with you sir, when you say that I’m selfish because feeding my kids — is not selfish. I have hair stylists that are going hungry because they’d rather feed their kids. So sir, if you think the law is more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with you decision but I am not going to shut the salon.

After being sentenced to seven days in jail, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton ordered Luther be released from jail:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has called for the “immediate release” of a Dallas salon owner who was arrested and sent to jail for opening her business in defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott’s stay-at-home orders.

Paxton referred to her sentencing as “unjustifiable,” and a “political stunt”:

I find it outrageous and out of touch that during this national pandemic, a judge, in a county that actually released hardened criminals for fear of contracting COVID-19, would jail a mother for operating her hair salon in an attempt to put food on her family’s table. The trial judge did not need to lock up Shelley Luther. His order is a shameful abuse of judicial discretion, which seems like another political stunt in Dallas. He should release Ms. Luther immediately.

Paxton also informed Judge Moye that his sentencing had been “significantly overbroad.”

Gov. Abbott concurred with Paxton’s assessment:

I join the Attorney General in disagreeing with the excessive action by the Dallas Judge, putting Shelley Luther in jail for seven days. As I have made clear through prior pronouncements, jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option. Compliance with executive orders during this pandemic is important to ensure public safety; however, surely there are less restrictive means to achieving that goal than jailing a Texas mother.”

This speaks to the tricky balancing act of stay-at-home orders. While I wholeheartedly agree with both the governor and the attorney general, it begs the question: should there be any consequences for non-essential business owners defying stay-at-home orders? Should these orders have any teeth to them? And what happens if a majority of business owners across the country defy stay-at-home orders and open their businesses because they – and their employees – need the income? The longer the shut-down continues, obviously the more Shelly Luthers there will be.

Below is a map identifying where each state currently stands with reopening:



The Supreme Court of Texas has ordered the release of Dallas salon owner, Shelly Luther, who was jailed for violating executive stay at home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She’s currently in isolation and protective custody at the Lew Sterrett Justice Center in Dallas.

The jail is expected to release her Thursday afternoon.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott modified his executive orders and eliminated confinement as a punishment for violating the mandates.

(h/t The Dana in Kentucky)


Trump Administration Halts Document Giving Guidance on Reopening

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

I’m not sure what this means, but it is worth looking into:

The Trump administration has shelved a document created by the nation’s top disease investigators with step-by-step advice to local authorities on how and when to reopen restaurants and other public places during the still-raging coronavirus outbreak.

The 17-page report by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen.

It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day,” according to a CDC official.

I’m sure this decision was driven by concerns over how best to give accurate guidance on matters of health in a pandemic, and not by politics or the whims of Donald Trump.

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