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The Rushmore Report: Does Late Night TV Really Treat Trump Differently than Other Presidents?

This past week, Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert have said things about President Trump that would have gotten any late night “comedian” fired had they said the same things about President Obama. Of that there is no dispute. But overall, are things really that much different than in recent years? Does late night TV really offer unbalanced attacks against Mr. Trump, compared to Obama, for example? The data is in and the answer is clear.

Yes.

Over Trump’s first 100 days in office, late night jokes targeted Trump 1,060 times, according to a study by George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs. Those 1,060 punchlines tower over the numbers hit during the entire first year of recent presidents. For example, Mr. Obama was targeted 936 times in his first year. Trump is on pace for 3,557 attacks during his first year, or 3.8 times more than Obama.

Perhaps the reason is that Trump invites such criticisms/jokes. Not so fast. What could have possibly provided more fodder for late-night comedians than the Bill Clinton affair with Monica Lewinsky? Yet, Clinton’s 1,717 jokes in 1998 were less than half of what Trump is facing in 2017.

So far this year, Trump-targeted jabs have outpaced jokes told about all Democrats, 1,060-95. That’s a ratio of 11/1.

But many will contend Mr. Trump says things that invite such cynicism and ridicule. Again, not so fast. Trump’s family members have been targeted 97 times, more than all Democrats combined. Let me say that again. Late night television is going after the President’s wife, daughter, and ten-year-old son at a higher frequency than their combined attacks on the 241 elected Democrats who populate the Senate and House of Representatives.

The George Mason University report concludes that Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, and Jimmy Kimmel have ridiculed the President’s immediate family more than they have attacked Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi (“You must pass the Democratic bill before you can read it”) and Chuck Schumer (“We will oppose this president at every turn”).

Can you imagine the outcry if the media had attacked Chelsea Clinton or Barack Obama’s wife or children this way?

I remember a time when the President’s family was off-limits. I remember a time when late-night comedians would have been fired for making “jokes” about incest within the President’s family and bleeped-out “jokes” about his manhood. I remember a time when such despicable, immoral speech would earn universal condemnation among an unbiased mainstream media. I even remember a time when we had an unbiased mainstream media.

I really feel old.

The Rushmore Report: Outrage Over United Airlines and Sean Spicer, but Not Slaughtered Christians

A United Airlines passenger is violently hauled off a plane, and there is a national outrage, and rightly so. Press Secretary Sean Spicer says that Assad is worse than Hitler, and again, there is national outrage, and rightly so. Forty-five Egyptian Christians are slaughtered by ISIS while attending church services on Palm Sunday, and scores of others are wounded, and there is barely a national yawn. How can this be?

You might say, “That’s easy. The first two events took place right in front of our eyes, here in America. The third event took place in Egypt, and as tragic as it was, it’s a matter of out of sight, out of mind.”

I understand that. But what about the Islamic terror attack on the Brussels airport last year, killing more than 30 people? That was covered by our media day and night, with footage from the blast shown over and over by the hour.

And what about the Islamic terror attack in France, when a driver plowed his truck into hundreds of people in Nice, killing more than 80? That too received day and night coverage, with the bloody footage, including dead children lying in the streets, put before us by the hour.

But when it’s Christians being slaughtered by Islamic terrorists while worshiping the Lord in the safety of their church buildings, it only receives passing mention on our networks. Why?

For the last decade, a Christian genocide has been taking place in the Middle East representing one of the ugliest chapters in recent human history, yet most Americans remain sadly uninformed. The secular media is complicit.

We’re talking about multiplied hundreds of thousands of Christians being displaced, exiled, attacked, maimed, tortured, starved, and killed. We’re talking about a crisis of epic proportions, yet the news coverage this ongoing tragedy receives is negligible. Why?

Whatever the reason, there is a solution to the media’s silence.

All of us can raise our voices and draw attention to the suffering of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East (and elsewhere). And all of us can pray for their protection, their courage, and their comfort.

In the words of the Letter to the Hebrews: “Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies” (Hebrews 13:3).

About the Author

Dr. Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book, Breaking the Stronghold of Food, was just released.

The Rushmore Report: Trump vs Obama – Who Was Harder on the Media?

The mainstream media continues to react with righteous indignation over comments from President Trump and his top advisers. His statements about the “fake media” are unprecedented, right? Actually, Trump isn’t the only president to wage war on the press. In fact, when comparing the actions taken by President Obama vs Mr. Trump, it’s shocking – and not even close.

The Obama Administration began with lofty promises of being “the most transparent administration in history.” And as a child, I promised to be the first person in my family to walk on the moon. Saying it doesn’t make it so.

For those who are outraged at Trump’s treatment of the press, let’s rewind the tape.

Exhibit A – Freedom of Information Act

The Obama Administration set a record. According to the Associated Press, the self-proclaimed “most transparent administration in history” denied more Freedom of Information Act requests than any other administration in American history. Simply said, when the media cited their constitutional right to news that had been sealed by the Obama Administration, their request for “transparency” was consistently denied.

Exhibit B – War on Fox News

Early in its first year, the Obama Administration declared war on the most watched cable news channel in America. (It’s not even close.) Here’s what happened. The White House communications director, Anita Dunn, announced their intent to treat Fox News “like an opponent,” insisting, “we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”

Trump talks tough – criticizing CNN, for example. But Obama followed through with actions unprecedented by Trump or any other administration in modern American history. They denied Fox News from attending presidential press gatherings.

Exhibit C – Talk radio

President Obama made it a habit of criticizing conservative talk radio whenever his poll numbers dipped. Amazingly, he even said that these “domestic propagandists” were far more dangerous to America than any interference from hostile powers like Russia.

Exhibit D – Surveillance of James Rosen

When the State Department was criticized by Fox News’ James Rosen, they ordered his movements tracked and his phone records seized. It was later confirmed that they were monitoring his emails, as well.

Exhibit E – Treatment of the Associated Press

The AP underwent unprecedented surveillance by the Obama team. For two months, the Department of Justice tracked 20 AP reporters’ calls, following a reported failed plot in Libya. The crime? The AP reported the news before the Administration did.

It is pretty hard to justify some of the things President Trump tweets and says about the media. But he does have a point. As a specific example, he recently decried the media’s mishandling of his statement on “fake media.” Trump’s actual statement had been that the “fake media” was an opponent to his Administration. In his follow-up statement, he pointed out that they had incorrectly quoted him as saying the “media” was an opponent to his Administration.

Because I record so many political shows, I went back and watched the tape. Sure enough, George Stephanopoulos left out the all-important word “fake.” “President Trump said ‘the media’ is the opponent of his Administration,” he said on ABC’s This Week.

Again, Trump needs a trusted confidant to whisper (better yet, shout) in his ear, “Enough already with the incessant tweeting about the media.” But where he has spoken words, President Obama actually did things – unprecedented things – to harm the media and keep them from doing their constitutionally protected work.

Obama vs Trump. One Administration set the record for denying Freedom of Information requests. One Administration conducted surveillance on a reporter and an entire news organization. One Administration banned the most popular news cable network from their press conferences. And that Administration was not Donald Trump’s.

The Rushmore Report: NBC, Rosie O’Donnell Attack Barron Trump

On November 21, “comedian” Rosie O’Donnell posted a video featuring Donald Trump’s 10-year-old son, with the caption “Barron Trump autistic?” Not to be outdone, NBC writer Katie Rich tweeted the following after the inauguration: “Barron will be this country’s first homeschool shooter.” Can you imagine such treatment of Malia or Sasha Obama?

Let’s start with O’Donnell’s statement. We know three things. First, she said it. Second, she never offered a public apology. Third, the media basically ignored it.

Let’s consider Rich’s statement. The writer for Saturday Night Live tweeted her outrageous message to the Twitter world, then deleted it – after she knew it had been seen by millions. Again, there has been scant coverage by the media and she has not been fired by NBC.

There used to be this universally accepted practice in American politics – the president’s family was off-limits. In eight years, we never saw this kind of filth aimed at Obama’s daughters. If a conservative writer or entertainer had said such despicable things about President Obama’s daughters, they would have been fired.

But this is Donald Trump’s family. So, NBC offered no correction of condemnation of Rich’s statement. ABC continues to feature O’Donnell on The Match Game. For Katie Rich and Rosie O’Donnell there has been no price to pay for accusing the President’s 10-year-old son of being autistic and a future mass murderer.

Still some insist there is no double standard in the media. You need to find these people and sell them your stock in the Ford Edsel, while their ignorance of reality persists.

The Rushmore Report: Media Blasts Trump’s ‘Lie,’ Gives Obama a Pass – 6 Times

On Sunday’s editions of Meet the Press and This Week with George Stephanopoulos, the hosts blasted Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway over President Trump’s claim that his inauguration crowd was the “biggest ever.” But, not surprisingly, the media never responded to President Obama’s clear falsehoods (on issues that matter) – at least six times.

Video evidence suggests that Obama’s first inauguration drew a larger crowd than Trump’s. And we know that more watched his ceremony on television than watched Trump’s. What is not clear, however, is the number who watched the Trump event through smart phones and other devices. So, while Trump’s claim is likely false, it is not a provable lie. That did not stop the mainstream media from going off on Ms. Conway. Throughout the entire interviews, both Chuck Todd and George Stephanopoulos refused to address any other subject – such as Trump’s actual speech, his policies, his Supreme Court nomination, or the cabinet whose confirmation is being stalled by Senate Democrats.

But let’s assume Mr. Trump’s claim of a “record crowd” at his inauguration was a clear misstatement. We’ll even call it a lie. That begs the question: Is the size of a crowd at the President’s speech worthy of more media coverage than his speech itself?

Now, let’s compare this coverage to the media’s coverage of President Obama’s clear misstatements. We will limit our examples to issues that actually affect millions of American lives, not ancillary comments on the size of a crowd.

I offer six examples of clear non-truths and misstatements that went completely unchallenged by Todd, Stephanopoulos, and their comrades.

1. “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan.”

This memorable promise by Obama backfired on him in 2013 when the Affordable Care Act went into effect and at least two million Americans started receiving cancellation notices.

2. “Ninety percent of the budget deficit is due to George W. Bush’s policies.”

During the 2012 campaign, Obama repeatedly reminded voters that he became president during a grim economic crisis. But by claiming that only 10 percent of the federal deficit was due to his own policies, he pretended facts don’t exist. The fact is, half the deficit stemmed from the recession and forecasting errors, but a large part of the deficit – 44 percent – was due to Obama’s actions, according to his own economists.

3. “The day after Benghazi happened I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism.”

Actually, over a period of two weeks, given three opportunities in interviews, he ducked the question, blaming a video for the attacks.

4. “I didn’t call the Islamic State a ‘JV’ team.”

In 2014, Obama repeated a claim, crafted by the White House communications team, that he was not specifically referring to the Islamic State terror group when he dismissed the militants who had taken over Fallujah as a “JV squad.” But the Fact Checker obtained the previously unreleased transcript of the president’s interview with the New Yorker, and it’s clear that’s who the president was referencing.

5. “By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.”

His own Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, disputed that in 2016, saying the White House did a “disservice” to troops by engaging in “word games.” Clearly, the mission did not end by that announced date.

6. “We have not had a major scandal in my administration.”

Apparently, Mr. Obama (and the media) don’t remember: the Operation Fast and Furious gun walking scandal, the IRS scandal involving IRS workers intentionally targeting Tea Party organizations, and his own Secretary of State Hillary Clinton using a private email server, putting national security at risk.

So, in one corner, we have a false claim (not provably false) that the crowd at the 2017 inauguration was the “biggest ever.”

In the other corner, we have false statements about Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, the national economy, and national security.

Still, the media pounded Ms. Conway Sunday, while completely ignoring real misstatements on real issues that affect real Americans, by President Obama. And they wonder why the media’s national approval rating is 14 percent.

The Rushmore Report: Charlie Sheen Calls for Trump’s Death – Where’s the Media Outcry?

Following the death of actress Debbie Reynolds, Charlie Sheen tweeted that God should “take” the president-elect next. Predictably, there has been virtually no media response. Can you imagine the rage we would have seen in the mainstream media had a conservative actor called for the death of President Obama when he was first elected to office?

This was Sheen’s tweet: “Dear God, Trump next, please! Trump next, please! Trump next, please! Trump next, please! Trump next, please! Trump next, please!”

When he received some negative response (not much), Sheen dug in with another tweet:

“The media’s reaction to last night’s tweet is insanely emblematic of the panoramic timorousness, draped vastly and wantonly, across any and all expressions of hope or joy, that we now dare to publish or impart. Oh, by the way, I was talking to God, not you.”

Apparently, God has signed up on Sheen’s Twitter account.

From this amazing hate-filled statement, I draw two conclusions.

1. It’s okay for the left to call for the death of a Republican president, but if a conservative pundit even criticizes a black Democratic president, he is immediately branded as a racist.

2. You don’t need a Twitter account to communicate with God.

The Rushmore Report: Denzel Washington Blasts Mainstream Media

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you do read it, you’re misinformed,” Denzel Washington told The Hill at the premier of his latest film last Tuesday night. Apparently, most Americans agree with Washington’s assessment. According to the Associated Press, only six percent have confidence in the media. But why is Denzel blasting the media?

Washington, currently promoting his new film, Fences, was featured in a false report in August, claiming that he was backing Donald Trump for president. Though the story was false, it was published far and wide.

Denzel says the mainstream media needs to live up to its “responsibility” to be truthful, warning that the temptation to be “first” has the potential to hurt people. “So what a responsibility you all have – to tell the truth,” he said at a recent red carpet event. “In our society, now it’s just fine – who cares, get it out there. We don’t care who it hurts. We don’t care who we destroy. We don’t care if it’s true.”

The Associated Press has more bad news for the mainstream media. Not only do just six percent of Americans trust them; perception of the media has actually dropped lower than in the Watergate era – much lower. In the aftermath of Watergate and its cover-up, a full 72 percent still trusted them.

In another survey, Pew Research reports that more Americans trust Facebook for their news than NBC. Denzel Washington’s condemnation of the media is not making news; he is simply confirming what the rest of us already knew.

The Rushmore Report: Progressives Demand Gun Control After Knife Attack at Ohio State

You can’t make this stuff up. Following the horrific knife attack at Ohio State University (no guns involved), would-be Vice President Tim Kaine tweeted: “Deeply saddened by the senseless act of gun violence at Ohio State this morning.” Never mind, the only gun that was used was the one that killed the raging ISIS-inspired murderer, preventing the loss of dozens of more lives.

Still, progressives used the brutal knife attack as an excuse to demand more gun control, even after authorities declared that they had zero evidence that the attacker even owned a gun, let alone used one in the attack. But as is often the case, progressives, including the man who wanted to be Vice President, don’t let pesky facts derail their agenda.

An Ohio State police officer used his gun to shoot and kill the machete-wielding attacker, believed to be an immigrant from Somalia, inspired by ISIS.

Yet, in the aftermath of the rampage, the talking heads at CNN, MSNBC, and ABC didn’t hold back. Joined by progressive activists and celebrities, they spent the next 48 hours using the attack as a pretext for demanding stricter gun control laws.

Let’s be clear. The attacker did not use a gun. A good guy who did have a gun ended the attack. Therefore, guns are the problem. Am I missing something here?

Shannon Watts, who runs a gun control group funded by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, claimed during the attack that America “gives dangerous people guns,” and intimated that a gun-free zone would have stopped the OSU attack. She did not explain why the campus ban on machetes did not prevent the attacker from striking and stabbing at least nine individuals.

So if a machete-free zone didn’t keep out machetes, why would a gun-free zone keep out guns? Actually, in the Ohio State example, it would have made things much worse. Presumably, the gun-free zone would have affected campus police. So here’s my question. While nine people were stabbed, several more would have been had the attacker not been shot by the officer. Which of the would-be victims, looking back, wish the gun had not been used?

Of course, the media is complicit with the craziness. Tim Kaine lamented the “gun attack” when there were no guns. Yet, not one report from CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, or ABC criticized him for his obvious misstatement. But if Donald Trump predicts the weather incorrectly, he is branded a liar, manipulator, and danger to our democracy.

From this, we learn two things.

1. Gun-free zones don’t work any better than machete-free zones.

2. Honest journalism in America is pretty much dead.

First Issue of the ‘New Republic’

The New Republic’s editorial board was presided over by the journalist Herbert Croly, author of the influential 1909 book The Promise of American Life. Impressed by Croly’s arguments for greater economic planning, increased spending on education, and the need for a society based on the “brotherhood of mankind” – ideas that were said to have influenced both Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson – the heiress Dorothy Payne Whitney and her husband, the banker and diplomat Willard Straight, approached Croly and asked him to join them in launching a new liberal journal that would provide an intelligent, opinionated examination of politics, foreign affairs, and culture. After recruiting his friend and fellow journalist Walter Lippmann, Croly saw the first issues of the new magazine hit the stands 102 years ago – on November 7, 1914.

Millions of Americans read the New Republican in its early years. It was met with wide acclaim and approval. But a funny thing happened along the way. No one much reads the liberal magazine anymore, as its circulation has dropped by more than 50 percent since 2000. That happens when something passes its 100th birthday.

There’s another book that has been around a little longer than the New Republic. And it’s more popular now than ever. Each year, it is the #1 book sold in America. It is still changing lives, 2,000 years later. It’s called the Bible. And if you want to be successful and happy in life, you will take this book seriously. You must love it, learn it, and most importantly, live it.

The Rushmore Report: CNN’s Highly Reluctant Jesus Follower

Just seven years ago, if someone had told me that I’d be writing for Christianity Today magazine about how I came to believe in God, I would have laughed out loud. If there was one thing in which I was completely secure, it was that I would never adhere to any religion – especially to evangelical Christianity, which I held in particular contempt.

I grew up in the Episcopal Church in Alaska, but my belief was superficial and flimsy. It was borrowed from my archaeologist father, who was so brilliant he taught himself to speak and read Russian. When I encountered doubt, I would fall back on the fact that he believed.

Leaning on my father’s faith got me through high school. But by college it wasn’t enough, especially because as I grew older he began to confide in me his own doubts. What little faith I had couldn’t withstand this revelation. From my early 20s on, I would waver between atheism and agnosticism, never coming close to considering that God could be real.

After college I worked as an appointee in the Clinton administration from 1992 to 1998. The White House surrounded me with intellectual people who, if they had any deep faith in God, never expressed it. Later, when I moved to New York, where I worked in Democratic politics, my world became aggressively secular. Everyone I knew was politically left-leaning, and my group of friends was overwhelmingly atheist.

I sometimes hear Christians talk about how terrible life must be for atheists. But our lives were not terrible. Life actually seemed pretty wonderful, filled with opportunity and good conversation and privilege. I know now that it was not as wonderful as it could have been. But you don’t know what you don’t know. How could I have missed something I didn’t think existed?

Very Open-Minded

To the extent that I encountered Christians, it was in the news cycle. And inevitably they were saying something about gay people or feminists. I didn’t feel I was missing much. So when I began dating a man who was into Jesus, I was not looking for God. In fact, the week before I met him, a friend had asked me if I had any deal breakers in dating. My response: “Just nobody who is religious.”

A few months into our relationship, my boyfriend called to say he had something important to talk to me about. I remember exactly where I was sitting in my West Village apartment when he said, “Do you believe Jesus is your Savior?” My stomach sank. I started to panic. Oh no, was my first thought. He’s crazy.

When I answered no, he asked, “Do you think you could ever believe it?” He explained that he was at a point in life when he wanted to get married and felt that I could be that person, but he couldn’t marry a non-Christian. I said I didn’t want to mislead him – that I would never believe in Jesus.

Then he said the magic words for a liberal: “Do you think you could keep an open mind about it?” Well, of course. “I’m very open-minded!” Even though I wasn’t at all. I derided Christians as anti-intellectual bigots who were too weak to face the reality that there is no rhyme or reason to the world. I had found this man’s church attendance an oddity to overlook, not a point in his favor.

As he talked, I grew conflicted. On the one hand, I was creeped out. On the other hand, I had enormous respect for him. He is smart, educated, and intellectually curious. I remember thinking What if this is true, and I’m not even willing to consider it?

A few weeks later I went to church with him. I was so clueless about Christianity that I didn’t know that some Presbyterians were evangelicals. So when we arrived at the Upper East Side service of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, I was shocked and repelled by what I saw. I was used to the high-church liturgy of my youth. We were meeting in an auditorium with a band playing what I later learned was “praise music.” I thought, How am I going to tell him I can never come back?

But then the pastor preached. I was fascinated. I had never heard a pastor talk about the things he did. Tim Keller’s sermon was intellectually rigorous, weaving in art and history and philosophy. I decided to come back to hear him again. Soon, hearing Keller speak on Sunday became the highlight of my week. I thought of it as just an interesting lecture – not really church. I just tolerated the rest of it in order to hear him. Any person who is familiar with Keller’s preaching knows that he usually brings Jesus in at the end of the sermon to tie his points together. For the first few months, I left feeling frustrated. Why did he have to ruin a perfectly good talk with this Jesus nonsense?

Each week, Keller made the case for Christianity. He also made the case against atheism and agnosticism. He expertly exposed the intellectual weakness of a purely secular worldview. I came to realize that even if Christianity wasn’t the real thing, neither was atheism.

I began to read the Bible. My boyfriend would pray with me for God to reveal himself to me. After about eight months of going to hear Keller, I concluded that the weight of evidence was on the side of Christianity. But I didn’t feel any connection to God, and frankly, I was fine with that. I continued to think that people who talked of hearing from God or experiencing God were either delusional or lying. In my most generous moments, I allowed that they were just imagining things that made them feel good.

Then one night in 2006, on a trip to Taiwan, I woke up in what felt like a strange cross between a dream and reality. Jesus came to me and said, “Here I am.” It felt so real. I didn’t know what to make of it. I called my boyfriend, but before I had time to tell him about it, he told me he had been praying the night before and felt we were supposed to break up. So we did. Honestly, while I was upset, I was more traumatized by Jesus visiting me.

Completely True

I tried to write off the experience as misfiring synapses, but I couldn’t shake it. When I returned to New York a few days later, I was lost. I suddenly felt God everywhere and it was terrifying. More important, it was unwelcome. It felt like an invasion. I started to fear I was going crazy.

I didn’t know what to do, so I spoke with writer Eric Metaxas, whom I had met through my boyfriend and who had talked with me quite a bit about God. “You need to be in a Bible study,” he said. “And Kathy Keller’s Bible study is the one you need to be in.” I didn’t like the sound of that, but I was desperate. My whole world was imploding. How was I going to tell my family or friends about what had happened? Nobody would understand. I didn’t understand. (It says a lot about the family in which I grew up that one of my most pressing concerns was that Christians would try to turn me into a Republican.)

I remember walking into the Bible study. I had a knot in my stomach. In my mind, only weirdoes and zealots went to Bible studies. I don’t remember what was said that day. All I know is that when I left, everything had changed. I’ll never forget standing outside that apartment on the Upper East Side and saying to myself, “It’s true. It’s completely true.” The world looked entirely different, like a veil had been lifted off it. I had not an iota of doubt. I was filled with indescribable joy.

The horror of the prospect of being a devout Christian crept back in almost immediately. I spent the next few months doing my best to wrestle away from God. It was pointless. Everywhere I turned, there he was. Slowly there was less fear and more joy. The Hound of Heaven had pursued me and caught me – whether I liked it or not.

About the Author

Kirsten Powers is a contributor to USA Today and a columnist for Newsweek/The Daily Beast. After a lengthy career as a Democratic commentator at Fox News, she is now a nightly guest commentator for CNN – and a devoted follower of Christ.