Sean Rayford / Getty Images

Charlotte police won’t release the video of Keith Lamont Scott’s killing—and they don’t have to.

In a press conference on Thursday morning, Chief Kerr Putney announced that he would not release the dashcam video of the 43-year-old black man who was shot and killed on Tuesday near the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. When asked about the transparency promised by his office, Chief Putney said: “I never said full transparency. I said transparency—and transparency is in the eye of the beholder.”

Putney’s decision comes shortly before a new state law, signed by Republican Governor Pat McCrory in July, goes into effect on October 1. HB 972 states that recordings made by the police are not public records, which means individuals seeking a public release of an audio or visual recording must file a court order.

Under current law, however, Chief Putney and his department can release or withhold recordings at their discretion. But with 10 days until the law goes into effect, people still have time to make a public request for Putney to release the footage. In fact, according to Alan Pyke at ThinkProgress the North Carolina ACLU is already pushing for Putney and the Charlotte police to release the video “in the interest of transparency.”

September 30, 2016

Donald Trump would like his aides to please shut the hell up about the debate.

It’s fairly common in politics for aides to use the press to try to send messages to their candidate. After Trump’s disastrous debate performance, aides publicly and privately made it clear that Trump’s debate performance was disastrous. Here’s a CNN report that was published on Thursday afternoon:

The pushback comes amid reports that advisers hoped Trump’s missteps against Clinton in the first debate would convince the Republican nominee to concentrate on his message and tactics before they debate again. Aides had said Tuesday and earlier Wednesday that they have delivered the message (gingerly, one said) that the first debate didn’t go well.”Yes, he’s been made aware,” one adviser said.

But Trump is clearly not happy with this political convention. According to the same CNN report, he made it clear that aides were not, under any circumstance, to concede that the debate, which was lost, was lost. In a conference call, surrogates and aides were told to stop admitting that Trump lost and instead that Trump “successfully reinforced his outsider status, contrasting him with Clinton as a status quo candidate.”

But Donald Trump is not someone who can live with such reports circulating. Which helps to explain the series of tweets he sent in the middle of the night and early morning on Friday.

Got that? Don’t believe the reports that are circulating that say that Donald Trump lost the debate because Donald Trump didn’t say them.

This is obviously not how journalism works, and Trump, as someone who has repeatedly gone off the record with journalists over the last four decades, knows as much. But Trump’s biggest campaign tactic is gaslighting, so this is par for the course.

That said, if we shouldn’t treat anonymous sources as liars, then what are we to make of this tweet?

giphy

Jeb Bush has beef with that Kennedy who leaked his father’s support for Hillary.

Since the primaries, Jeb has mostly been wandering around the streets of Boston at night. But yesterday he popped up to deliver a lecture at Harvard, and when asked what he thought about reports that his father was voting for Clinton, Jeb said that it was “inappropriate for a person to overhear a frail 92-year-old man in a private setting, at a reception for the Points of Light Foundation,” and then “go on Facebook and put it on there, and then go on national television and not even show up at the board meeting.” In other words, Kathleen Hartington Kennedy Townsend, you’ve just made yourself a very mild enemy. Oh, and show up to the goddamn meetings!

Jeb didn’t deny that his father is going blue. As for his own plans come November, Jeb is still undecided, but he has said that he is considering casting a ballot for Gary Johnson, a candidate who is, if possible, more hapless than he is.

Donald Trump responds to allegations of fat-shaming Alicia Machado by slut-shaming Alicia Machado.

When asked by Dr. Oz about his long history of public misogyny—especially on Howard Stern’s radio show—Trump said that he was just playing a game. “Had I known I was going to be a politician—Howard Stern is a friend of mine—I wouldn’t have done his show. We have fun. We have fun. A lot of people understand that. We have fun. So we’ll talk about women. We’ll talk about men. We’ll talk about everything, and we’re all have a good time.”

But in the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton made it clear that there was nothing funny about Trump’s comments about women, baiting him into discussing former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, who he had repeatedly and publicly humiliated about her weight. Any normal campaign would have tried to move on from the massive L that its candidate took in the debate, but the Trump campaign is not a normal campaign in large part because the presidential candidate in question has access to a cell phone between certain hours of the day. Very early this morning, Trump sent a series of tweets referring to a reality show appearance in which Machado slept with another contestant. (Trump supporters have also alleged that Machado appeared in pornography, but there is no evidence that this is true.) None, surprisingly, contained the thinking emoji.

There’s a lot going on here. First of all, what is Trump doing? These tweets are timed between 3am and 5am. Was he just stewing, unable to sleep, even after Melania brought him a cup of warm milk? Second of all, there are less than 40 days to the election and Trump has spent the last four talking about Alicia Machado. Third, this basically takes a former Miss Universe and tries to turn her into the new Benghazi: Maybe Alicia Machado tricked Hillary Clinton into giving her citizenship so she could ... mention her in a debate? And how dare we give citizenship to ... someone who had sex with someone on a Mexican reality show? It’s weak shit and the alt right fever swamps really should be able to do something better. And finally, it showcases Trump’s two most un-presidential attributes. He’s easily baited and he finds it impossible to move on once he’s hooked. And his only answer to charges of misogyny is more misogyny.

September 29, 2016

Watch Trump spokesman Jason Miller insist that the sky is yellow.

Online polls are bad. They’re unscientific because they’re easy to rig: People can vote over and over again. Given the right wing’s fixation on the non-issue of voter fraud, it’s ironic to see the Trump campaign, licking its wounds after the drubbing Trump took in Monday’s debate, cling to them. Even as it has become more and more apparent that Trump lost—and as more and more Trump staffers have admitted that Trump lost—the Trump campaign is still pushing the idea that online polls are more accurate than other polls, which is completely false. On Thursday evening, Trump communications director Jason Miller tried to make the case to Chuck Todd.

Even for the Trump campaign, this is some primo gaslighting. To his credit, Todd pushed back, to the point that Miller almost admitted that Trump actually lost. Even within Miller’s blatant falsehoods, there’s an element of something approaching a normal strategy—the way to spin the polls is to say that they represent enthusiasm, even if they are not accurate. But what Miller did here went far beyond spinning. If you needed three and a half minutes of proof of the Trump campaign’s blatant disregard for the truth, this is it.

Joe Raedle/Getty

Is Hillary Clinton conceding Ohio?

Since John F. Kennedy won the state in 1960, every successful presidential campaign has won Ohio. But the Clinton campaign is sending signals that it’s abandoning the battleground state. According to a new report from The New York Times’s Jonathan Martin, Clinton has at least one foot out the door in the Buckeye State, where Trump has held a small lead for the last several weeks. “Hillary Clinton has not been to the state since Labor Day, and her aides said Thursday that she would not be back until next week, after a monthlong absence, effectively acknowledging how difficult they think it will be to defeat Donald J. Trump here,” Martin writes.

Former Ohio Democratic Party chair James Ruvolo told Martin that the Clinton campaign won’t abandon the state entirely, however. “They’ll keep putting in money, but I don’t think they’re going to put a lot of her time in here.”

Martin and a number of the people he spoke to note that Ohio is not quite the crucial bellwether state it once was. Clinton has many paths to get to 270 electoral votes and Ohio, which is “whiter, older, and less-educated” than the nation as a whole, may not be as easy to win as other key states, like North Carolina and, most importantly, Florida.

But the Clinton campaign’s decision not to fight tooth and nail for Ohio is still notable. It wasn’t so long ago that it was eyeing an electoral landslide—six weeks ago they were talking about invading Arizona and Georgia. With less than 40 days until the election, the campaign appears to be shifting to a strategy of putting more resources into fewer states. And for all the demographic challenges Ohio presents, Barack Obama won the state twice, meaning that there is a way for a Democrat to win Ohio if Clinton can convince voters there that Trump is not the populist defender of the working class he pretends to be.

The Washington Redskins are trying to ride the legal coattails of an Asian dance rock band called The Slants.

In 2011, the Portland, Oregon-based band were denied the trademark application for their name on the grounds that it was considered offensive to Asians. The decision seems cut and dry until you consider that the band consists only of Asian-American members who had chosen “slant” as a point of ethnic pride and as a way to confront racial stereotypes. The U.S. Trademark Office, however, had in fact taken the band’s racial identity into consideration; combined with the definition of “slant” at urbandictionary.com, among other sources, it defended it decision. But on Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the band’s challenge to the federal law that denied them their trademark.

But it isn’t just the fate of The Slants that’s at stake. The Washington Redskins football team, which was stripped of their trademark on the same grounds last year, have hitched their wagon to The Slants’ case, much to the band’s dismay. The band has distanced themselves from the football team, saying that the word “redskin,” unlike “slant,” has a “long history of oppression” and was an “inherent racial slur.” But the Redskins have no such qualms, and filed an amicus brief urging the Court to hear the band’s case and perhaps even hear their cases at the same time, which the Court did not agree to do. Still, the outcome of The Slants’ case would definitely have a ripple effect on the Redskins’ case.

The two cases are similar only in a superficial sense. Native Americans have protested the team’s name for decades. In the Slants’ campaign to receive their trademark, they invoked a long history of cultural re-appropriation of stereotypes by Asian-Americans, from the Slant Film Festival to the popular blog Angry Asian Man, as avenues for tackling discrimination and engaging in racial discourse. At a time when cultural appropriation has become a highly contested battleground, distinguishing between who is doing the appropriating and how groups are affected by such actions seems to be a basic first step in bringing nuance to the discussion.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The “Scholars and Writers for Trump” include a historian who thinks the Nazi perspective isn’t getting its due.

The website American Greatness has compiled a list of “Scholars and Writers for Trump” and there are some very odd names on it, including the historian Christiana Jeffreys. In 1986, Jeffrey had been hired by Ronald Reagan’s Department of Education to review proposed federal funding for a course on the Holocaust. Jeffreys was hostile to the course, arguing in her evaluation that “the program gives no evidence of balance or objectivity. The Nazi point of view, however unpopular, is still a point of view and is not presented, nor is that of the Ku Klux Klan.”

Jeffreys also argued that the course was propagandistic because it sought to “change the thinking of students in the same (way) that Hitler and Goebbels used to propagandize the German people. This re-education method was perfected by Chairman Mao and is now being foisted on American children under the guise of ‘understanding history.’” In 1995, when Newt Gingrich tried to appoint Jeffreys to the position of House Historian, her views on the Holocaust were so controversial the nomination was withdrawn.

Of course, the very idea of “Scholars and Writers for Trump” goes against Trump’s anti-elite appeal. For that reason, while the list includes a few fine scholars, many others are strange oddballs of little repute, such as:

  • Philosopher Hadley Arkes, who once compared those who murder abortion providers to “a band of Jews had killed guards and executioners on their way to work in Auschwitz.”
  • Popular historian Conrad Black, a convicted felon who was deported from the United States.
  • Historian Arthur Herman, who has defended Joseph McCarthy.
  • Anti–gun control advocate John Lott, infamous for fabricating research and creating a sock puppet named Mary Rosh to praise his own work.
  • Politician Newt Gingrich, who has a doctorate in history but is best known for other things, including trying to hire Christiana Jeffreys as the House Historian.

New “Never Trump But The Liberal Media Is Being Totally Unfair To Him!” movement emerges.

Most conservatives who claim to be #NeverTrump can’t bring themselves to admit that Hillary Clinton is a basically normal liberal politician, acceptable if the alternative is fascism. What’s less clear is how many conservatives who claim to be #NeverTrump think a bit of American fascism might be less bad for the country and the world than four more years of conventional liberalism. This may explain the strange spectacle of conservatives who say they find Donald Trump abhorrent rushing to his defense against the dread liberal media.

“Lester Holt tilted anti-Trump during the debate,” wrote Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, which dedicated an entire issue during the Republican primary to opposing Trump. “[He] got tougher questions than Clinton, who was spared queries on matters such as the Clinton Foundation and Benghazi. It was fair game to ask Trump about birtherism, but Holt asked two follow-ups about it. And he fact-checked Trump in real time twice, arguably getting his correction of Trump about a complex stop-and-frisk case wrong. Notably, Holt got positive reviews.”

Shapiro, who resigned from Breitbart over its Trumpian tilt, is ostensibly calling foul on liberals and the media for finding fault in the Trump campaign’s efforts to smear a former Miss Universe who gained weight. After all, a mere 50 years ago a Democratic president was quite a misogynist.

What the word “never” means seems to differ from one conservative to the next, but we should distinguish between conservatives who view “Never Trump” as a statement of civic obligation (those, in other words, who are seeking to defeat him), those who view it as a statement of self-absolution (abstainers), and those who view it as a way to cover their own hides, while hoping others carry Trump across the finish line for them.

Donald Trump can’t stop bashing Alicia Machado and it’s dragging his campaign down.

Perhaps the Clinton campaign’s shrewdest insight into Donald Trump is that he is easily baited. When he feels personally slighted, he can’t let go of a subject but keeps on fighting. During Monday’s debate, Clinton laid some juicy bait for Trump by bringing up the way he had mistreated Venezuelan beauty queen Alicia Machado. Rather than showing any judgement by apologizing and moving on, Trump jumped on the bait like a hungry rat. Since debate night, he’s attacked Machado constantly. On Bill O’Reilly’s show last night, the Republican nominee portrayed himself as the victim of an ungrateful employee he tried to help. “I saved her job because they wanted to fire her for putting on so much weight ... it is a beauty contest,” Trump told O’Reilly.

Trump also hinted that there would be more personal attacks, saying, “A lot of things are coming out about her.” This is an allusion to a smear campaign against Machado being conducted by Trump’s media allies, which have been trawling Latin American tabloids for sensationalistic and often false stories about the former Miss Universe. Rush Limbaugh called her a “porn star Miss Piggy.” Some of Trump’s surrogates have also taken the bait. On Tuesday, Newt Gingrich told a Republican gathering, “You are not supposed to gain 60 pounds the year you’re Miss Universe.”

For a campaign that is struggling with a gender gap, attacking a woman for being overweight might seem like a self-destructive move. After all, according to a PPP poll, 65 percent of voters find Trump’s comments about Machado to be inappropriate and only 17 percent find them appropriate. Given these numbers, it’s puzzling that the Trump campaign has doubled down on the message “No Fat Chicks.”

Fox News

Is Sean Hannity gunning for a position in the Trump White House?

There’s a lot of great gossip in Robert Draper’s latest piece for The New York Times magazine about the ongoing Trump-fueled civil war in conservative media. We learn, for instance, that Trump and Ann Coulter are especially close, that she helped him with his “Mexican rapist” announcement speech, and that Trump has given her jewelry and a free membership to Mar-a-Lago. “Trump has made my life better in so many ways,” Coulter tells Draper.

Draper writes that Trump has “implicitly encouraged” his supporters to consider themselves “part of the campaign team,” so it should come as no surprise that these members of the media (I’m careful to not say “journalists”) are acting like campaign staffers. And it should especially come as no surprise that some of them may be eyeing positions in the Trump White House, should he win in November.

Similarly, while we’ve known for a while that Trump gets his talking points from conservative radio, Draper’s piece lays out just how intertwined they are. Here’s Draper on Hannity, for instance:

I asked Hannity if it was true that, as a Trump confidant had told me, he wished to be considered as a potential Trump White House chief of staff. “That’s news to me,” he insisted, adding a politician’s practiced nondenial denial: “I have radio and TV contracts that I will honor through December 2020.” Nonetheless, Hannity’s service to the Trump campaign well exceeds that of ritually bashing Clinton and giving Trump free airtime. He has offered private strategic advice to the campaign. The same Trump confidant told me of at least one instance in which Hannity drafted an unsolicited memo outlining the message Trump should offer after the Orlando nightclub shooting in June.

This helps explain why the elusive Trump pivot never happened: Trump may be listening to people like Reince Preibus with one ear, but Hannity and Coulter have the other, and they’re the ones who seem to have control over the puppet strings.

This should also disqualify Hannity as a theoretically objective source on Trump’s supposed (and fake) opposition to the Iraq War. Even if the chief of staff thing really is just a rumor, the fact that Hannity has taken on the mantle of unofficial aide should disqualify his defense of Trump completely.