Category Archives: Mentions

Before There Was Trump, FDR Bullied Media || Lifezette

Before There Was Trump, FDR Bullied Media

Liberal icon knocked heads with publishers, used licensing powers to cow radio stations

by Brendan Kirby | Updated 13 Oct 2017 at 7:47 AM

After President Donald Trump mused on Twitter on Wednesday that it might be appropriate to challenge NBC’s broadcast license as punishment for “fake news,” the cascade of outrage was predictable.

“Frightening” and “disgusting,” MSNBC host Joe Scarborough pronounced Thursday. “An unraveling, at the very least, of this man’s personality,” declared co-host Mika Brzezinski.

CNN treated it as a two-day story, even as legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin acknowledged on Wednesday that there is virtually no chance that NBC is actually going to lose its license.

“Clearly it can’t happen today,”Scarborough said. “But when you have the president of the United States for the first time in American history making a suggestion like this, you know, I think it has an impact.”

First time in history? As it applies specifically to television licenses, perhaps. But American history is replete with presidents’ exercising power — and not just speech — against enemies in the press.

“Joe Scarborough needs to pick up a history book,” said presidential historian Craig Shirley.

He noted that the nation’s second president, John Adams, used the Alien and Sedition Acts to jail publishers who printed unfavorable stories. Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt all used national security justifications during wartime to take actions against newspapers, he said.

“Political speech has been restricted many times in American history,” Shirley said.

FDR and the Press
Perhaps none of Trump’s modern predecessors took more aggressive action against the media than FDR, one of the most lionized figures on the Left in the past century. A Politico story earlier this year detailed a number of provocative exchanges between Roosevelt and the press that today might be described as Trumpian.

According to Politico, Roosevelt once embarrassed a reporter by giving him a dunce hat and ordering him to stand in the corner. At the end of a 1942 news conference, he handed a Nazi Iron Cross to a reporter and asked him to give it to a New York Daily News columnist who had been critical of the administration.

Betty Houchin Winfield detailed Roosevelt’s relationship with journalists in her 1980 book, “FDR and the News Media.” She describes Roosevelt’s White House press secretary, Steve Early, as something of an enforcer who was willing to bully radio stations into compliance if necessary.

Roosevelt generally enjoyed a cozier relationship with radio station owners than his often-hostile newspaper publishers. According to “FDR and the News Media,” radio stations usually agreed to donate airtime for the president’s speeches.

“When they did not, Early retaliated,” Winfield wrote, describing the press secretary’s efforts to punish a pair of Los Angeles radio stations that had refused to carry Roosevelt’s September 1936 “fireside chat” on a drought.

“We can afford to eliminate [campaign advertising from] KFI and KECA,” he wrote to Democratic Party publicity director Charles Michelson. “I hope we will and that we also will announce when the next program goes out over the chain of which these stations are members, that the Committee had requested their elimination.”

Roosevelt did more than threaten to yank campaign ads. According to Reason magazine, the Federal Communications Commission — which formed in 1934 to replace the Federal Radio Commission — cut the renewal period for radio broadcast licenses from three years to just six months. The magazine reported that the first secretary of the FCC, Herbert Pettey, had overseen radio for the 1932 campaign and worked with the Democratic National Committee to handle “radio matters.”

According to Winfield’s book, the White House closely monitored radio licenses and took steps to prevent his rivals who headed newspapers from acquiring radio stations.

“He especially did not approve of the manner in which the FCC commissioners seemed to grant licenses almost automatically,” she wrote.

Efforts to Block Critics
The book recounts that the president urged Early to “get in touch with [FCC Commissioner Frank] McNinch and ask him if there is something we can do to keep the Wichita Falls papers, who are opposed to Congressman [William] McFarlane, from getting control of the radio.”

In 1940, at a time that publishers owned a third of the airwaves, Roosevelt implored the FCC to make a statement “divorcing press and radio.”

After hearing a rumor in 1943 that a grouped headed by Chicago Tribune publisher Robert R. McCormick and New York Daily News founder Joseph Medill Patterson had offered $10 million for NBC Blue Network, Roosevelt lashed out, according to the book. “I think that this ought to be stopped without any question. It is bad enough to have them on Mutual [Broadcasting System].”

Lest anyone interpret FDR’s posture as good-government opposition to media consolidation, Winfield wrote that FCC Chairman James Fly sent a questionnaire to radio stations in 1941 and discovered that RCA President David Sarnoff and CBS CEO William S. Paley controlled what more than half of people heard.

NBC and Columbia controlled 86 percent of total night-time radio power, and Fly warned about the danger of so much media power in so few hands.

But Roosevelt was not concerned about Sarnoff and Paley, according to Winfield, and Early intervened to try to get the FCC to back off the investigation.

The Roosevelt administration rarely found heavy-handed tactics to be necessary when dealing with radio executives, according to the Reason story. Often, they enjoyed the kind of editorial influence over programming that Trump could only dream of from even his most sympathetic media outlets.

NBC announced that it was limiting broadcasts “contrary to the policies of the United States government,” while CBS Vice President Henry A. Bellows declared that “no broadcast would be permitted over the Columbia Broadcasting System that in any way was critical of any policy of the administration.”

His company, Bellows maintained, “was at the disposal of President Roosevelt and his administration, and they would permit no broadcast that did not have his approval.”


Outsiders vs. Insiders: Are conservatives destined for Reagan vs. Ford part two in 2020? || ConservativeHQ

Ever since Donald Trump all-but secured the Republican nomination for president (after the Indiana primary in May of last year) there’s been a great deal of speculation as to when the inevitable challenge to his leadership of the GOP would materialize.

Most of the anti-Trump conjecture originated from establishment figures such as John Kasich, John McCain and Jeb Bush, people who never fully accepted Trump as a legitimate politician and have sniped and criticized him from the sidelines as the New York outsider dove in and battled the reptile-infested political swamp in Washington DC.

To predict someone from the elite circles of the party will make a high-profile primary challenge to Trump in 2020 is not only within the logical realm of possibility — it’s almost likely to happen. Certainly such an effort would be well supported and financed by Trump’s multitude of enemies inside and outside the party.

But could Trump possibly face opposition from a conservative competitor as well? Some people talk as though it’s destined to take place.

Craig Shirley and Scott Mauer wrote at Real Clear Politics, “President Trump seems to be heading in the direction of Gerald Ford. He is going leftward by negotiating with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi instead of his own party’s leadership. It was met with great fanfare by the liberal media when he agreed to increase the debt limit. Several days later, he reassured DACA recipients that everything will work out to their favor – at the behest of Nancy Pelosi…

“If Donald Trump is destined to becoming the next Gerald Ford, who will be the conservative primary opponent running to his right? What will this mean for 2020? Will someone emerge to go after an unclear, messy, moderate incumbent in the primaries? It would seem so. Conservatives will surely want a hard-hitting and principled candidate who understands classic conservative economics, politics, and the tenets of Federalism.”

Radio host Mark Levin has been similarly critical of Trump’s political inconsistencies, so it isn’t just Shirley and Mauer making the challenge-from-the-right argument.

Since Shirley is perhaps the preeminent authority on the extraordinary life of Ronald Reagan it’s understandable how he might see parallels between what’s happening with Trump today and the internal party civil war (between American conservativism’s greatest icon and the ultimate establishmentarian of his time, Gerald Ford) that took place over forty years ago.

And while it’s true Trump has been making a number of debatable political moves of late it’s probably a little early to foresee a certain conservative primary challenge to his leadership of the GOP in 2020. Trump may have earned the ire of diehard conservatives who felt the sting of his apparent backtracking on immigration a couple weeks ago but by no means is it obvious that he has morphed into a knee-jerk reactionary Democrat.

Many (myself included) surmised Trump’s overtures to the opposition party were really a feint to throw the media dogs off his scent rather than signaling a permanent exodus to join the enemy’s black hooded thugs. Trump is far too tactical and clever to be so open about his true intentions; he’s also reiterated time and again “I will not let you down” to his base. All the media and liberal adoration in the world isn’t going to lure Trump away from his desire to please the crowds.

That’s what a populist does; when you stop satisfying people you become un-popular. If you don’t believe it, ask George W. Bush.

It just doesn’t make sense to believe otherwise in Trump’s case. The president may be no Ronald Reagan but he certainly doesn’t appear to be a Gerald Ford either. After the fiasco with Richard Nixon in the mid-70’s the GOP establishment took full control of the party and of Ford’s governing direction. There’s little to no chance of something similar occurring with Donald Trump.

Trump remains ever distrustful of the entrenched ruling class in Washington. He’s been perhaps too tolerant of keeping Obama holdovers employed in the highest reaches of the federal bureaucracy but when Trump has had the opportunity to appoint someone, he’s usually turned to worthy conservatives.

It’s also hard to envision how one of the high-profile conservative leaders in Congress (or governors) would become so upset with Trump that they’d make what would likely amount to a suicidal run to unseat him on the 2020 ballot. Such a campaign would need to begin sometime soon, too, otherwise there wouldn’t be sufficient time to organize, fundraise, hire a staff, etc.

And who would it be? Ted Cruz? Mike Lee? Ben Sasse (there isn’t anyone on the House side who would be prominent enough to make it work)? The former two would be highly unlikely to challenge Trump for a number of reasons. Cruz is currently preoccupied with winning reelection next year and Lee has never seemed interested in a run for the top White House job.

Of the group Sasse would be most likely to try it, but again, where would his base of support come from? The conservative/populist grassroots chose Trump precisely because he was seen as having the best shot at breaking up the system, an impression that is not likely to fade no matter what takes place in the next couple years.

Practically speaking, there aren’t enough voters to fuel the fires of change in the GOP away from Trump at this point.

One name who could conceivably attempt it just to make a statement is Senator Rand Paul. Paul’s family’s political history would lend itself to running an outsider-from-the-inside-type campaign that would highlight Trump’s policy apostasies and could draw a reasonable amount of support from libertarian conservatives and those who have never thought Trump was conservative enough.

Further, the Kentucky senator has been plenty vocal lately in questioning his party’s turn away from conservatism. In a piece titled “Remember When Republicans Were Conservative?” Paul wrote last week in The Daily Caller, “Our budget needs balancing.  Our programs need reform.  Our spending ourselves into debt needs to end.

“With this next three months, conservatives, and really all Republicans, need to get together and act.  We need to insist that there will be no debt ceiling increase the next time if we aren’t heard, and if reforms aren’t enacted.

“I plan to start right now — not wait until December.  Last week, I met with conservative fighters in both the House and Senate to put together a coalition that says, ‘Stop.’  No more spending without real reforms.”

It’s clear Paul intends to follow through on his principles and could become one of Trump’s loudest Republican critics if the president carries out his threat to approach the Democrats for additional help in passing legislation under the guise of doing anything to get the process moving.

It’s also well-known Paul was a leading conservative opponent of compromise on the repeal and replacement of Obamacare which has many folks questioning his motivations. Most principled conservatives agree wholeheartedly with Paul’s words and positions but at some point politics does become the art of the possible. There’s a difference between using one’s position outside the majority to take a stand (as Ted Cruz did against Obamacare in 2013), but once you’re in the governing faction it’s necessary to bend a bit at times.

In the end I don’t believe Paul would pursue such a run against Trump. He’s not his dad and circumstances are quite different than when Reagan challenged Ford in 1976 and even when “pitchfork” Pat Buchanan campaigned against George H.W. Bush from the right in 1992. Bush was Reagan’s VP, the establishment had retaken control of the GOP and Buchanan didn’t have enough of a base to knock off the elder Bush.

Perhaps most importantly, the conservative Republican voters weren’t ready to toss out Bush. They won’t be prepared to remove Trump at the ballot box either.

The biggest reason is Trump is by and large keeping his promises. Even the establishment is now hesitant to criticize his methodology.

Joel Gehrke reported in the Washington Examiner, “President Trump’s sharp criticism of NATO succeeded in rattling ‘the complacency’ of European allies and producing foreign policy dividends, according to former rival Jeb Bush…

“’In relates to NATO, look, here’s a place where the rhetoric actually has been helpful,’ Bush said during a foreign policy discussion hosted by United Against Nuclear Iran.

“’Granted, the fact that he didn’t embrace NATO to begin with, but you’re starting to see European countries increase their defense budgets. … From time to time, it’s okay to shake up the complacency.’”

One wonders whether Jeb now believes it was okay to shake up the GOP’s “complacency” last year when conservatives and populists roundly rejected the status quo in favor of the politically unrefined Donald Trump. Trump doesn’t talk like a typical politician and isn’t the least bit afraid to step on foreign toes – like those of NATO leaders – to advance his America First policies.

Trump’s tough rhetoric is not only popular with Americans in general it’s extremely well received by conservatives. We still have a long way to go until 2020, but for right now it’s hard to fathom how the outsider president would face a conservative primary challenger after one term.


Citizen Newt Is Needed Today || American Thinker

Citizen Newt Is Needed Today

Citizen Newt, an authorized biography by Craig Shirley, explores how the legendary speaker of the House rose and influenced American politics and policy. It takes readers on a journey from when Gingrich decided to run for Georgia’s Sixth District to when Republicans gained control of the House in 1994.

Shirley told American Thinker, “You are hard-pressed, in the 230-year history of the American republic, to come up with the name of a political leader who wasn’t president who has had as long-lasting an impact on the national political debate as Newt Gingrich. I also was motivated to write his book because liberals can’t be trusted to record conservative history. They’re interested in pushing an agenda instead of reporting the facts. Of the books that are in my bibliography just about every one of them was written by a liberal, and every one of them was rancid, error-filled, agenda-driven, in every way, shape or form. They were not reporting on the facts of Newt Gingrich. They were reporting on their own personal ideology. But Gingrich burst on the national political scene in the late 70s, and here we are some 30 or 40 years later, and he’s still relevant.”

It is astonishing, after reading this book, to find the overlap between then and now. Many believe that there is a need for a Gingrich clone to tell it like it is and to pass legislation, while taking on the corrupt interests of the media, political consultants, lobbyists, and the establishment. Shirley believes “The problem for Donald Trump is that this Congress is a bunch of do-nothings. It is the static versus the dynamic. Newt took the Republican Party from a minority status to a majority status and accomplished his goal as stated in the ‘Contract With America.’ He got through 9 out of 10 pieces.”

Shirley quotes a 1985 statement by Gingrich, “The biggest division in the Republican Party… is between those who are serious about building a majority party and those who are locked into the mentality of a minority party.” Another quote from his 1979 campaign, where he charged that the Republican Party had not “a competent national leader in his lifetime. The GOP did not need another generation of cautious, prudent, careful, bland, irrelevant, quasi-leaders.” Sound familiar?

When asked about this, Gingrich responded to American Thinker, “It takes enormous leaders to get bills through both the House and the Senate. To accomplish something there is a need to have a leadership who knows what it is doing, communicates to the American people to get their support, and then through the American people gets the support of Congress. A perfect example is when President Trump went to North Dakota with a popular tax cut message. What I would do is build a coalition in every state of everyone who wants a tax cut and ask them to pressure members of both parties.”

In 1984, then-congressman Gingrich declared that the Democrats were obstructionists. He sees the similarities between the behavior then and now, “The fight started by Reagan and sustained by us, is the same fight of Trump today. What happens is they get into Washington surrounded by other Democrats who have this groupthink where they like to be mutually reinforced, a collectivist behavior that never wants to break rank. These people voting against the Trump agenda could be career ending; especially the states where Trump won overwhelmingly like West Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, and Montana. It appears that they are out of touch with their constituents. The average American repudiates Democratic Party values. I predict in 2018 we will hold our own in the House and pick up 4 to 6 seats in the Senate.”

Because the Democratic Party’s program is based completely on identity politics, it is no wonder that they do not control the state legislatures, state senates, governorships, the House, the Senate, or the White House. Gingrich feels it falls back onto President Obama’s shoulders, “He spent eight years annihilating the Democratic Party where now they only control six state legislatures in the country. Look at how ridiculous the statement was of a candidate running for governor in Maine when he said there are too many white people there. If true, he just repudiated the vast majority of voters there and he blatantly narrowed his appeal and acceptability. This is what goes on in the Democratic Party all the time. They do not realize how weird they have become because the only ones they talk to are themselves.”

In 1981, Gingrich appeared to be ahead of his time when he initiated a resolution to put a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King in the U.S. Capitol. This overwhelmingly passed the House and the Senate. When asked how it relates to what is happening today, Gingrich responded, “If I were African-American I don’t think I would be very happy with a statue of somebody who fought to sustain slavery. I think we should understand the feelings over the very specific issue of the Confederacy, and not consider it offensive if they are to be taken down and put in a museum because they are not being destroyed.”

He became professorlike when he noted, “We wrote an alternate novel about Gettysburg. What many people don’t realize is that Robert E. Lee’s army actually had active slave traitors who went with them and actually captured free independent blacks in the Gettysburg area and took them South to sell into slavery.”

What about the attitude toward Thomas Jefferson and George Washington? “That is completely different. I think we have to remember that it was these men who came up with the concept of a world where people were systematically able to organize the right to govern without a king. They actually created a self-governing system in which individuals could have freedom. They also wrote into the Constitution that provided for abolishing the slave trade in DC, and provided a series of steps that began to move the system away from slavery. I think it takes remarkable ignorance or a willful rejection of the facts not to realize the worth of these historic figures.”

He also thought the discussion about the movie Gone With The Wind is “stupid. It would be a little like dissing William Shakespeare because there are parts of his writings that are anti-Semitic. Both the movie and the writings reflected the world they were part of.”

He thinks conservatives should see the glass half-full by looking at the accomplishments, including the court system moving to the right, the biggest deregulation underway in history, and a real effort toward tax reform. Regarding health care reform, “I believe people do not realize that 49/52 Republicans voted correctly in the Senate. There were sixteen Democratic nos for every Republican yes. We are only focusing on the one, not the 48 Democrats who got a free pass.”

Reading this book, people will feel deja vu. Americans should yearn for the return of Newt Gingrich, because he was someone who got things done and found solutions, someone who put America first.

The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.


Reagan biographer: Trump, like Gipper, ‘tempted to bomb Capitol’ || Washington Examiner

Reagan biographer: Trump, like Gipper, ‘tempted to bomb Capitol’

One of the most interesting relationships in the Trump era has been the president’s embrace of Newt Gingrich. In his book, Understanding Trump, Gingrich gives credit to Trump for being able to break the mold on presidential action, shift positions quickly and speak bluntly, qualities similar to the former House speaker.

And now we’re learning from Reagan biographer Craig Shirley, who just released Citizen Newt, why Trump listens to Gingrich.

“Trump respects Gingrich, I suspect, because he utterly routed the shallow Washington culture” during his years in Congress, said Shirley.

“Gingrich saw part of his mission was to redefine what was important in Washington and like Ronald Reagan, saw the American people as important and the self-absorbed, supercilious, self-aggrandizing corrupt liberal comrades of Washington as mouth breathing sub humans. Reagan once quipped to Gingrich how tempting it would be to bomb the Capitol and there is little doubt Trump agrees with that sentiment,” he added.

A White House insider agreed, and said that Newt’s value to Trump is his outsider’s view and his insider’s success.

“Newt is respected for his viewpoints by Trump and appreciates his outside perspective. Although they sometimes disagree about the right approach, Gingrich and Trump both have one thing in common that the president loves: they took over Washington when no one expected it and turned the town upside down,” said the Trump advisor.

GOP pollster David Winston, a former Gingrich aide, added that Newt always has new ideas and can focus on the big play of the day.

“What’s his value to Trump? He’s been the third-ranking official in the country who is one of the best idea people on the conservative and Republican side. Who wouldn’t want to have conversations with him?” said Winston.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” columnist, can be contacted at [email protected]


Citizen Newt by Craig Shirley || Gingrich Productions

Citizen Newt by Craig Shirley

Are you tired of the bickering, fighting, and failure to produce results in Washington?

Do you want to know what it takes to implement conservative principles in the Congress and the executive branch?

Then consider reading Craig Shirley’s new book, Citizen Newt: The Making of a Reagan Conservative as a source of historically factual insights and principles.

Candidly, it is difficult to review a book written about yourself. In fact, it is a little embarrassing.

However, Craig Shirley is a widely respected historian of American politics, and I know from personal experience how many years he has dedicated to this project. I therefore feel I owe you serious commentary about this book – the first authorized biography of my political career.

Craig is truly a remarkable historian. His four volumes on Ronald Reagan are the definitive biography of our nation’s 40th president and a vital history of the conservative movement in the final decades of the 20th century. As someone who campaigned with candidate Reagan in the 1970s and worked with President Reagan in the 1980s, I know how insightful and accurate Craig’s books are.

His book December 1941 is an astonishingly detailed, day-by-day account chronicling America’s entry into World War II. Even as a historian who has written two novels about Pearl Harbor, I found myself learning a surprising amount of new information from Craig’s detailed account of this period in American history.

The hallmarks of all of Craig’s works are extraordinarily thorough research and biting commentary about both Democrats and Republicans.

His work on Citizen Newt is no exception.

Craig spent countless hours at The University of West Georgia extensively reviewing all of the documents filed in my archives. He interviewed countless key players and sat down with me to revisit key moments and incidents in my career.

While Craig is a friend, he is honor-bound as a serious historian to be tough-minded about the mistakes and failings of his central figures. He was tough on Reagan when he deserved it, and he is equally tough on me about some painful errors in my career.

Craig is especially tough on the establishment Republicans who undermined the Reagan-Gingrich movement (as Nancy Reagan described it in the 1990s). He is also fiercely contemptuous of the liberal reporters and writers who simply lie and make up phony stories and falsehoods to undermine, limit, or distort the history of modern conservatism.

In that way, Craig’s books are always about issues much bigger than the personalities in the title. He is a historian of the conservative movement and a loyal protector of historical fact from liberal and establishment distortions and dishonesty.

When Craig was nearly finished with Citizen Newt he sent me a copy to review. He was concerned about any factual errors but made clear he was not going to allow me to soften any of his judgments — even when they were critical of me.

My greatest reaction to reading the book was how exhaustive Craig was. He spared no detail in constructing his narrative and reliving those years of my career was exhausting for me personally. I had forgotten how many things myself, Jack Kemp, Bob Walker, the Conservative Opportunity Society House members, and our activist allies had done.

We put an end to 40 years of Democratic control of the House by earning the majority in 1994 – but it took 16 years of agonizing, unending hard work. The Contract with America was not a lucky fluke – it was the culmination of a long project that endured many missteps, frustrations, and failures before reaching its historic turning point.

If you want to understand how Reaganism was turned into a second wave of conservative innovation and change through the House of Representatives, Craig Shirley’s Citizen Newt is a must-read. Everyone who is unhappy with the current Washington process will find clues to a better strategy in this extraordinary book.

Your Friend,