Tag Archives: PRESS

White House on lockdown with reporters being moved to press briefing room, reports say

White House on lockdown with reporters being moved to press briefing room, reports sayThe White House was put under lockdown on Monday morning, according to reporters who cover the administration. Journalists posted messages on social media announcing the lockdown as they were assembled in the White House press briefing room, where they have not had a briefing in nearly 100 days. “We are literally locked in here,” wrote Megan Pratz, a reporter for Cheddar. “We can’t see much but Secret Service officers just ran across the lawn.”The Secret Service posted a statement on Twitter minutes later saying the agency was “responding to an incident involving a suspicious package located on Pennsylvania Ave.”Nearby pedestrian traffic routes were closed on Monday, the Secret Service added. The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. > Secret Service Uniformed Division Officers are responding to an incident involving a suspicious package located on Pennsylvania Ave. Pedestrian traffic is closed along Pennsylvania Ave. between 15th and 17th streets to include Lafayette Park. pic.twitter.com/t7veePoDb7> > — U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) > > June 24, 2019More follows…



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Biden’s Media Strategy: Duck The Press Unless You’re Under Duress

Biden’s Media Strategy: Duck The Press Unless You’re Under DuressBloomberg via GettyThe first time former Vice President Joe Biden spoke to national media reporters in nearly a week of campaigning was to address a political minicrisis of his own making.On Wednesday evening, hours after Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) had admonished him for fondly recalling the collegiality of segregationist senators of the ’70s, the former vice president was asked if he would apologize. “Apologize for what? Cory should apologize, he knows better,” Biden responded, standing outside an SUV on his way into a fundraiser. “There’s not a racist bone in my body, I’ve been involved with civil rights my whole career. Period. Period. Period.”The moment marked a new level of aggression in a still-nascent Democratic primary. It also put the spotlight on what Democratic officials say is a risky and often confusing campaign blueprint being deployed by the party’s presidential frontrunner. Increasingly, Biden seems to speak publicly or talk with reporters only when he is under duress. “It is not a tenable strategy,” said David Axelrod, who worked with Biden as the top communications adviser on the 2008 campaign, and in the Obama White House. “His message is that he’s the guy who can beat Donald Trump and he is viewed as the least risky choice. Over time, if the only interactions he has is around these screwups and gaffes, then he is going to start losing that message.” Booker, Harris, Warren Tee Off on Biden for His Nostalgia for Segregationist SenatorsOver the past few weeks, Biden has been forced to grapple with a number of minicontroversies and self-inflicted wounds. His nostalgia for former Sens. James O. Eastland (D-MS) and Herman E. Talmadge (D-GA) was preceded by a 24-hour flip-flop on a law banning federal funds from funding abortion (Biden went from supporting the Hyde amendment to opposing it). Those two instances came after Biden was criticized for not offering a full apology to Anita Hill and for humorously dismissing accusations that he made women uncomfortable by invading their space. Virtually every candidate running for president has to clean up the messes he or she makes. That’s especially true for the frontrunners and those who, like Biden, have a proclivity for speaking with limited filters. But what makes Biden’s current approach so confusing for other Democrats is that much of his public-facing campaigning has involved doing only that. Elsewhere, the former vice president has kept a notably low profile, taking little opportunity to push his larger campaign message or make proactive defenses of his political baggage.Biden hasn’t appeared on national television since the day after he officially declared his run for president. Since then, the campaign has repeatedly declined invitations from television and cable news outlets. One network source told The Daily Beast that over the past several months, Biden has been offered a number of appearances on MSNBC, including telephone interviews. And a CNN insider said the network reached out to the former vice president in the months before he even launched his campaign, inquiring whether he would be interested in participating in upcoming town hall events.In addition to missing many of the forums packed with 2020 Democratic prospects, Biden was the only 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to decline an interview by The New York Times as part of its package this week comparing the various candidates (and wouldn’t respond to questions when asked why he didn’t participate).“I think that it is never a good idea to sit on a lead. That rarely works out well, and that's what they’re doing,” said Axelrod.While in South Carolina this weekend, Biden worked the rope line well into the evening, mingling with press and voters, but his campaign has previously restricted press access, running the vice president’s press availabilities in a vastly different manner from the rest of the candidates. Biden’s campaign has at points sealed off the press at events, only allowing a single reporter to represent the campaign press pool at Biden fundraising events. Occasionally, the Biden campaign has even seemed to forget or reverse course on planned media appearances. Earlier this month, the former vice president’s staff told campaign reporters that he was going to be holding a press gaggle following an event in New Hampshire. But reporters were left hanging when Biden left the event and got into a waiting SUV without taking questions. For communications specialists, the reticence seems not just at odds with the realities of modern media, but also unwise, leaving the impression that Biden—who has a reputation for joviality—is almost afraid of the scrutiny. “If you are only interacting with the press when there is an issue of concern, you reinforce that perception that there are only problems,” said longtime Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis, who runs Park Street Strategies. “You're in a turtle mode instead of being proactive about what you’re pushing out.”Biden’s defenders argue that the reason that he appears to interact with the press during times of duress is largely because those episodes are over-emphasized by the media itself. They point to polling data showing his consistent lead in the primary as evidence that the national press corps has fundamentally different priorities than the Democratic electorate. The campaign has created its media strategy around that theory as well. Instead of doing national interviews, they have focused the vast majority of their attention on smaller local news outlets in the early primary states. Since jumping into the race in April, Biden has sat down for at least a dozen interviews with local TV and radio stations in Iowa and New Hampshire.Biden hasn’t been entirely closed off from national outlets. His campaign is the only one in the primary that allows a print pooler into his fundraising events. And on Thursday, senior Biden adviser Symone Sanders told CNN that the former VP would be sitting down for an interview this weekend. Sources told The Daily Beast that Biden would likely be one of several candidates sitting down with host Al Sharpton at an event for 2020 presidential contenders in South Carolina that MSNBC has exclusive rights to broadcast. Nevertheless, Biden’s caution when dealing with the press has stood out in a field of candidates where many others seem willing to accept any media request or live-streaming opportunity. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) has been comfortable enough with campaign reporters to invite them on jogging outings, while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is so willing to sit for interviews he took questions while drinking brown-bagged beer in a park in New York City.Campaign veterans say it would be unwise for Biden to go to those extremes, and not just because of his history of saying things that cause him political headaches. According to their logic, the former VP is already well known to the public and instead of re-introducing himself to voters, he can afford to spend that time on other campaign functions. The question now being asked of the Biden campaign is not just whether they took that theory too far but whether he could actually maneuver through the current media landscape if he tried. “You are not in the Hyde amendment era in the Democratic Party, and you are not in the James O. Eastland era of the party,” said James Carville, a longtime Democratic operative. “How can you have the give and take [with the press] when your instinct is to get on the wrong side of two great issues of the modern Democratic Party, and that’s abortion and racial relations? The world has changed.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



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Accidental cat filter turns press conference live stream into a meme

Accidental cat filter turns press conference live stream into a memeIn something of a ridiculous and yet lighthearted story, a Pakistani politician's press briefing with journalists recently became comedic fodder after a cat filter was applied to the faces of individuals being recorded via Facebook live. The incident, which was attributed to human error, showcased regional minister Shaukat Yousafzai — and others — with cat ears and whiskers while talking about otherwise serious topics.The cat filter was live for a few minutes before someone noticed it and promptly removed it. But for a few glorious minutes last Friday, viewers were witness to an event seemingly lifted out of a kids-version of Black Mirror.The Guardian reports:> It was several minutes before organisers realised that the minister had acquired pointy ears. When one of his moustached party colleagues began to speak, looking earnest and holding a pen, he too was transformed into a cat.> > Party followers watching online immediately started making jokes at the expense of Pakistan's provincial Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government. They offered up a whole series of feline puns.Hardly a surprise, folks on Twitter had a field day with the minor debacle. And truth be told, using photo filters during all political events might actually persuade more people to become politically active.https://twitter.com/nailainayat/status/1139583166115540992All told, it's been interesting to see how quickly filters have evolved. Back during the early days of Instagram, for example, photo filters were relatively straight forward and simply involved adding some nice tonal effects to photos. These days, with Snapchat leading the way, photo and video filters have transformed dramatically. Today, filters have become incredibly quirky and now exist across a multitude of social networking sites and apps.



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Symone Sanders, Bernie’s Former Press Secretary, Goes to Work on Biden’s Campaign

Symone Sanders, Bernie’s Former Press Secretary, Goes to Work on Biden’s CampaignJP YimSymone Sanders, who rose to prominence as Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) national press secretary during his 2016 presidential campaign, has signed on to work for former Vice President Joe Biden’s 2020 bid. She will serve as a senior advisor. Sanders, who had been uncommitted throughout the cycle, is a CNN political commentator and has worked with Priorities USA, the largest Democratic Party Super PAC. She was a major hire for Sanders during the 2016 campaign, coming just as he faced criticism over the lack of diversity on his staff. But in the summer of 2016, she quit the campaign, at the time saying she did so of her own volition. Sanders is a prominent progressive voice and a regular presence on cable news, giving Biden a valuable addition to his team. But she hasn’t always been sympatico with the former vice president. Recently, Sanders chastised Biden for cracking jokes in response to the unwanted touching allegations leveled against him by several women with whom he’d interacted during his career. In the segment, she raised a hypothetical about how she would handle communications for Biden. “If I’m Vice President Biden’s communications person, if he comes out and says the words ‘I’m sorry,’ all the chyrons and headlines will say ‘I’m sorry,’ Sanders said encouraging Biden to keep listening and talking to people. Prior to then Sanders had also characterized the conventional wisdom around Biden being the frontrunner in the Democratic primary as being “overhyped.” In the same report though, she acknowledged that he could be “formidable.”The Biden campaign did not return a request for comment but Sanders confirmed to The Daily Beast in a text message on Thursday.Sanders was later featured among the staff hires announced by the Biden campaign on Thursday.“We are incredibly proud of the diverse and talented team that has come together behind this campaign’s vision to restore the soul of this nation, rebuild the backbone of the country, and unify America,” said Greg Schultz, who will serve as campaign manager. “We know this is exactly the kind of change voters are looking for and we are excited to get to work to share Vice President Biden’s vision in every corner of the country.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here



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Democrats to press star witness of Mueller report to repeat performance in Congress

Democrats to press star witness of Mueller report to repeat performance in CongressSince the April 18 release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and any ties to Republican Trump’s campaign, Democrats have seen McGahn as someone who could be as important as Mueller himself, according to a source familiar with the matter. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the White House planned to oppose a subpoena by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee for McGahn to testify. Mueller’s 448-page partially blacked out report portrayed McGahn as one of the few figures in Trump’s orbit to challenge him when he tried to shut down the investigation that has clouded his more than two years in the White House.



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Democrats to press star witness of Mueller report to repeat performance in Congress

Democrats to press star witness of Mueller report to repeat performance in CongressSince the April 18 release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and any ties to Republican Trump’s campaign, Democrats have seen McGahn as someone who could be as important as Mueller himself, according to a source familiar with the matter. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the White House planned to oppose a subpoena by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee for McGahn to testify. Mueller’s 448-page partially blacked-out report portrayed McGahn as one of the few figures in Trump’s orbit to challenge him when he tried to shut down the investigation that has clouded his more than two years in the White House.



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Haftar forces press offensive on Libyan capital

Haftar forces press offensive on Libyan capitalForces backing Libya’s unity government battled to push back an offensive by strongman Khalifa Haftar on Sunday as his troops approached the gates of Tripoli after air raids overnight. Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army, galvanised by victories in its eastern stronghold and in the country’s desert south, announced an offensive early this month to seize the capital from the UN-recognised administration of Fayez al-Sarraj. The bloodshed has derailed efforts to bring peace to a country where jihadists and people smugglers have exploited the chaos unleashed by the NATO-backed overthrow of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.



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Julian Assange's charges are a direct assault on press freedom, experts warn

Julian Assange's charges are a direct assault on press freedom, experts warnParts of the indictment go head-to-head with basic journalistic activities protected by the first amendment, academics say A protester outside Westminster magistrates court in London on 11 April. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images The charge sheet accusing Julian Assange of engaging in criminal theft of US state secrets contains a direct assault on fundamental press freedoms and could have a devastating effect on the basic acts of journalism, leading first amendment scholars and advocacy groups have warned. Prosecutors in the eastern district of Virginia released on Thursday an indictment against the WikiLeaks founder that has been under seal since March 2018. It will now form the basis of the US government’s request for Assange to be extradited from the UK to Alexandria to face trial. Academics and campaigners condemned large chunks of the indictment that they said went head-to-head with basic activities of journalism protected by the first amendment of the US constitution. They said these sections of the charges rang alarm bells that should reverberate around the world. Yochai Benkler, a Harvard law professor who wrote the first major legal study of the legal implications of prosecuting WikiLeaks, said the charge sheet contained some “very dangerous elements that pose significant risk to national security reporting. Sections of the indictment are vastly overbroad and could have a significant chilling effect – they ought to be rejected.” Carrie DeCell, staff attorney with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said the charges “risk having a chill on journalism”. She added that the tone of the indictment and the public release from the Department of Justice that went with it suggested that the US government desired precisely that effect. “Many of the allegations fall absolutely within the first amendment’s protections of journalistic activity. That’s very troubling to us.” Among the phrases contained in the indictment that have provoked an uproar are: “It was part of the conspiracy that Assange encouraged Manning to provide information and records from departments and agencies of the United States.” It is a basic function of journalism to encourage sources to provide information in the public interest on the activities of government. “It was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning took measures to conceal Manning as the source of the disclosure of classified records to WikiLeaks.” Protecting the anonymity of sources is the foundation stone of much investigative and national security reporting – without it sources would not be willing to divulge information, and the press would be unable to fulfill its role of holding power to account. “It was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning used the ‘Jabber’ online chat service to collaborate on the acquisition and dissemination of the classified records.” The indictment similarly refers to a dropbox. Both Jabber and Dropbox are communication tools routinely used by journalists working with whistleblowers. A key element of the indictment is a new allegation that Assange actively engaged in helping Manning try to crack a password that allowed the US soldier to gain unauthorized and anonymous access to highly sensitive military computers. At the time, in 2010, Manning was working as an intelligence analyst at a forward operating base outside Baghdad. Experts on freedom of the press and speech were generally more relaxed about that narrow charge, standing on its own, in that it essentially accuses Assange of violating computer hacking laws – specifically the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – in a way that has no first amendment protection. If prosecutors succeed in presenting evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to that effect, it is unlikely to arouse fierce opposition across the board. Bradley P Moss, deputy executive of the James Madison Project, a public-interest group focusing on US intelligence and national security, said he was unflustered by the hacking allegation. “I have no concerns about the broader ramifications for press freedoms, whether in the US or elsewhere. What Julian Assange did is what journalists are trained not to do.” But fears for the chilling impact of the prosecution were rampant. The Center for Constitutional Rights, whose late president Michael Ratner was Assange’s lawyer in the US, warned that the threat posed by the indictment was increased by having a president in the White House hostile to the media. “This is a worrying step on the slippery slope to punishing any journalist the Trump administration chooses to deride as ‘fake news’,” it said. Two advocacy groups working in the field of press freedom also waded in. The Committee to Protect Journalists said the wording of the charges contained “broad legal arguments about journalists soliciting information or interacting with sources that could have chilling consequences for investigative reporting and the publication of information of public interest”. Freedom of the Press Foundation said: “Whether or not you like Assange, the charge against him is a serious press freedom threat and should be vigorously protested by all those who care about the first amendment.”



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What Does the Assange Arrest Mean for Press Freedoms in America?

What Does the Assange Arrest Mean for Press Freedoms in America?Julian Assange was arrested in London this morning, emerging after more than six and half years from the Ecuadorian Embassy where he had been granted asylum in August 2012. Originally welcomed by leftist Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, Assange’s status has been in negotiation for almost a year by centrist President Lenin Moreno who took office in 2017. Moreno had cut off Assange’s internet connection in the embassy in March 2018, making communication with the outside world difficult. Assange founded Wikileaks, a public archive of leaked government documents, in 2006 and served as its editor for over a decade. In this capacity, Wikileaks has published war logs for both the Iraq and Afghan wars, U.S. State Department diplomatic cables and emails from the Democratic National Committee. The now-public documents have broken numerous new stories, from war crimes in Iraq to corruption at the DNC. While its defenders point to its record of accuracy and use of widely-accepted journalistic norms for obtaining classified documents, Wikileaks’ detractors consider it, in the words of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “a non-state hostile intelligence service.”



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Democrats press Barr over Trump's war on Obamacare

Democrats press Barr over Trump's war on ObamacareAttorney General William Barr was pressed on the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act that, if it prevails, would cause millions of Americans to lose their health care coverage.



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