A reminder that this newsletter is only possible because of the support of readers like you who are backing a new kind of independent journalism. If you’re enjoying PRESS RUN, please consider subscribing for $6 a month. Much thanks!
Anxious to portray the Covid-19 infection outbreak that has sidelined Trump and scores of top Republicans as a symptom of bipartisan dysfunctions, the Beltway press seems eager to push the idea that "Washington" is unraveling, and that both parties are to blame for the startling revelations that have tumbled out in recent days. It's a lazy narrative that lets the press avoid telling ugly truths about today's GOP.
"Let’s not mince words: Washington has been plunged into a crisis of historic proportions, frozen by a disease it is both unwilling and unable to control," Politico reported over the weekend, in an article headlined, “The virus slams into a broken Washington.” The piece stressed that "Washington" — both parties — have been "unwilling" to control the deadly virus. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The claim that Both Sides haven't taken serious, painful steps to get the pandemic under control is not only completely false, it provides cover for Republicans who have made the public health crisis worse at every conceivable juncture.
All across the country, Democratic leaders on the local and national level have tried to take strong measures to help the country control the public health crisis. Democrats have generally been a model of precaution, as they put science first. And all year they've been met by Republicans who have embraced Trump's reckless message of "re-opening" the country, even as the virus rages from coast to coast. Expressing disdain for health regulations and those who abide by them ("politically correct"), the Republican Party has made a point of mocking preventative measures. (The Politico article even admits, "The Capitol is filled with Republican lawmakers who decline to wear masks.")
That arrogance was highlighted one week ago when the White House hosted a mask-less event for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, where the virus ran rampant and infected scores of attendees. There's a reason why of the 15 states today where ten percent or more of the Covid-19 test results are coming back positive, all 15 are red states. Geographically, Trump's base is fueling the virus outbreak nationwide.
So no Politico, Both Sides are not to blame.
To prove "Washington" is "broken" and that it's not just because the pandemic landed inside the White House, Politico focuses on the unfolding, and unprecedented, confirmation process for Trump's Supreme Court nominee, and the fact that Congress has not passed the crucial, second round of the pandemic economic relief, desperately needed to bail out businesses across the country. From Politico's telling, both controversies prove Beltway "dysfunction," and a "crisis" of leadership — why can't the government function properly? What Politico leaves out is the fact that the Republican Party is unequivocally driving both emergencies, and it's their dangerous, extremist behavior that's putting the economy at risk, and putting trust in our courts at risk.
"Airlines are on the brink of firing tens of thousands of workers, businesses are shutting their doors and state and local governments are starving for cash. Yet Congress may not be able to stop that," Politico reports, stressing the failure of "Congress" to provide crucial relief.
Fact: House Democrats have now passed two separate relief bills, one in May ($3 trillion) and one last week ($2.2 trillion), and Republicans refuse to vote on either one. Instead, they have proposed a minuscule, $300 billion relief package. That's not "Congress" failing to act, that's the GOP blockading much-needed assistance for five straight months.
By purposefully allowing emergency, $600-a-week unemployment payments to expire on July 31, Trump and Republicans created chaos and looming poverty for tens of millions of jobless Americans. Amidst inner-party squabbling, the GOP was incapable of coming up with a coherent plan to extend enhanced benefits until hours before the payments ran out, leaving no way for a bill to be passed. Twenty million Americans stopped receiving the monthly, $600 lifeline checks because Republicans didn't want them to receive the $600 checks. That's not the fault of "Washington," that's the fault of Trump's GOP.
As for the Supreme Court, Politico suggests that if Republicans aren't able to ram through a nomination in coming weeks — even while most of Congress is sent home to avoid spreading the virus even further —that would be a sign of "dysfunction." The premise is completely backwards: Successfully confirming Trump's pick would send a clear signal that our representative democracy does not work as intended.
Nowhere does the Politico article acknowledge the GOP's unheard of goal of trying to seat a Supreme Court days before an election, or the fact that the GOP refused to hold hearings for a Court pick during 2016, insisting voters needed to have a say in the process — one of the most stunning bouts of hypocrisy in modern American politics. That's become the norm at Politico, politely ignoring the crucial fact that Republicans blocked Merrick Garland's election year nomination in 2016.
The truth is, today’s Republican Party cannot govern and that's why there's so much trouble brewing in the nation's capital — a pandemic health crisis, a pandemic economic crisis, and a Supreme Court crisis. Those aren’t the fault of "Washington." They're the fault of Trump and the GOP.
⌨️ GOOD STUFF:
The Politico article was extremely problematic in terms of its framing. But Trump's Covid-19 bout has produced some excellent, enterprising journalism.
From the Washington Post weekend piece headlined, "Invincibility punctured by infection: How the coronavirus spread in Trump’s White House":
The White House’s handling of the period between the first known symptoms — those of Hicks on Wednesday — and the president’s infection, which was confirmed about 1 a.m. Friday, is what experts considered a case study in irresponsibility and mismanagement. Administration officials at first were not transparent with the public, and have not been forthcoming with detailed information about Trump’s condition since. Meadows told reporters Friday morning only that Trump was experiencing “mild symptoms” and would not elaborate on what those symptoms were.
🎸 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Dawes, "Didn't Fix Me"
This sterling LA rock band might have the best album title of 2020, "Good Luck With Whatever," which seems to capture this year-to-forget so well.
For "Didn't Fix Me," the band returns to its signature, laid back sound that for so many fans recalls the Laurel Canyon, southern California vibe of the 1970's. For me, the band's draw comes from lead singer Taylor Goldsmith and the empathy and compassion that oozes from his bronze voice and golden pen.
"A songwriter who seemed to have arrived fully formed, with a knack for expressing human-condition truisms in neatly detailed, completely conversational rhyme and rhythm," Variety recently noted.
I went to see a healer
With that mic strapped to his face
Talked about which habits to surrender
And which habits to embrace
And for the next few days or so I was
Feeling pretty good
But it didn't fix me