Political cartoonist fired for causing us to laugh at Dear Leader Trump

Editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers fired for humorously pointing out the truth

“The move by the leadership of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to fire Rob Rogers after he drew a series of cartoons critical of President Trump is disappointing and sends the wrong message about press freedoms in a time when they are under siege.”
“This is precisely the time when the constitutionally-protected free press – including critics like Rob Rogers – should be celebrated and supported, and not fired for doing their jobs. This decision, just one day after the President of the United States said the news media is “Our Country’s biggest enemy,” sets a low standard in the 232-year history of the newspaper.”
Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto statement after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette fired award-winning editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers

The Times-Standard should start running his cartoons

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Trump’s decision to kill open Internet sucks, but you have other options for getting online

The Trump administration’s recent decision to kill the Open Internet Order has a lot of net neutrality advocates fearing the worst. Foremost among those concerns: that last month’s Federal Communications Commission vote might embolden broadband providers to manipulate how their customers access and use the internet. Although it remains to be seen whether that will happen, a small but growing number of users are taking matters into their own hands by exploring community- or municipal-owned, operated and funded internet access as a cheaper, faster and more neutral alternative to using large commercial internet service providers(ISP).

NYC Mesh, which typically gets 20 requests per month for membership to its community-based network in New York City, has received connection inquiries from more than 200 people since the FCC’s December 14 vote, says Brian Hall, a software consultant who helps manage the network. Self-organized, community-run systems including this one and Detroit’s The Equitable Internet Initiative have for years offered alternatives to corporate Internet Service Providers(ISP) such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

The community approach typically involves organizers renting internet access from a local data center, and installing rooftop antennas and wi-fi routers that together act as access point for nearby residents. Unlike a home or office router that provides wi-fi service for a dozen or so square meters, a community network can provide a wi-fi signal for several square kilometers. Residents connect to the access point by mounting their own antennas on their buildings’ rooftops or outside their windows. These antennas receive the network’s signal and send it through a cable to wi-fi routers located inside members’ homes or offices. The setup is called a “mesh” network because any member can act as an access point, or node, for other members.

“People are so used to ISPs that they think that’s the only way to access the internet,” Hall says, adding ISPs have built their businesses by acting as gatekeepers between customers and the internet in order to extract as much money as possible. NYC Mesh pays about $1,000 per month to use the data center but does not charge members for access to the mesh network. The organization currently uses a grant from the Internet Society New York Chapter to pay the rent, and suggests members donate $20 per month to help cover ongoing rental and management costs.

NYC Mesh has 70 wi-fi router nodes, many of which are connected to two “supernodes” that provide internet access at about 100 megabits per second, or Mbps—more than twice as fast as the average commercial ISP connection—throughout Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. The original supernode is run out of a Lower Manhattan data center. In that setup the group’s antenna is mounted on the roof and their computer servers are a few floors below in what is known as the “radio room,” Hall says. The servers run software that manages the network. They are also linked via optical fiber cables to a “meet-me room”—the location in a data center where networks interconnect directly with the internet backbone, without needing an ISP to serve as an intermediary.

To access one of the supernodes, a resident needs to get a wi-fi router node and install an antenna—either on the roof of their building or in a window with an unobstructed line of sight to the supernode’s transmitting antennas. Members whose view of the antennas is blocked by a building or bridge can connect to other NYC Mesh members’ nodes. Residents can also access the network using the public LinkNYC kiosks that the city has installed throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. “We’re basically a wi-fi network,” Hall says.

Hall and others involved in NYC Mesh have recently been meeting to figure out how they can scale up the network to meet rising demand. One option is renting more antennas at supernode sites, and installing more large antennas atop tall buildings spread throughout the city and surrounding area. He estimates it would take between 20 and 50 supernodes to cover the city’s five boroughs.

Hours after the FCC vote Motherboard—an online magazine that Vice Media launched in 2009—announced plans to set up and operate its own community mesh network in Brooklyn, and to publish a how-to guide for others interested in doing the same thing in their own areas. The project is still in the early planning stages. “A lot of nonprofits and community groups and even just meet-up groups made of private citizens have built networks like this across the country,” Motherboard Editor in Chief Jason Koebler says. “Every time we write about one of these community groups, people ask, ‘What are the actual logistics of making something like this happen?’ We don’t have a good answer for them often, so we thought we’d start from scratch.”

PUBLIC BROADBAND

Another approach, called municipal broadband or public broadband, offers residents internet access via a network supported by their city or town government—often with outside help from tech companies or public utilities. This allows local governments to provide the service at low prices—or for free. Starting in 2010 Google’s Fiber division began offering broadband service directly to consumers. Within a few years the company was delivering high-quality internet access to nine U.S. locations—including Kansas City, Austin and Atlanta. Unfortunately, a reorganization at Alphabet (Google’s parent company) prompted the company to announce in October 2016 it would not extend its Fiber services beyond those locations it already served, plus three locations where fiber installation was already in progress and completed in 2017.*

The thinking behind publicly owned networks is that municipal governments have greater incentive than privately owned ISPs (which have little competition) to provide citizens, government agencies and local businesses with free or affordable high-speed internet access. Large ISPs, in an attempt to keep competition at bay, have lobbied hard—and with some success—to block or limit municipalities from offering broadband services. Several states, including Tennessee and Colorado, now have laws banning municipally run networks. Despite those restrictions, the city council in Fort Collins, Colo., voted on January 2 to move ahead with plans to build a public broadband network. In November an additional 19 cities and counties throughout the state approved financing to study the feasibility of their own municipal broadband projects.

The FCC’s refusal to enforce net neutrality will “catalyze” more city hall conversations about the best way to deliver broadband to both citizens and businesses, says Lev Gonick, Arizona State University’s chief information officer and former CEO of the nonprofit broadband service provider OneCommunity. “At a minimum, [municipal broadband] efforts put incumbent providers on notice that a city is looking for a competitive marketplace,” Gonick says.

Municipalities can fund the set up and management of public internet service in a few ways, such as issuing bonds or collaborating with local broadband providers. Publicly owned broadband networks have a mixed track record, however. Some municipal networks are owned by public utilities, such as Iowa’s Cedar Falls Utilities or the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tenn. These fiber networks deliver citywide gigabit-per-second speeds (a gigabit is one billion bits) that far surpass even the best ISP service in the U.S. The country’s largest commercial ISPs offer average fixed (as opposed to mobile) broadband download speeds of about 64 Mbps whereas the average upload speed is under 23 Mbps, according to a report published last year by internet speed test company Ookla. (The FCC has for the past several years defined broadband as connection speeds of at least 25 Mbps for downloads and three Mbps for uploads.) There are, however, also many examples of failed municipal broadband projects, including iProvo in Utah and the City of Monticello in Minnesota. Mismanagement and high costs doomed both projects.

Whether community- or municipal-run networks can handle a potential influx of tens of millions of disenchanted ISP subscribers is an open question. “It’s not appropriate at this time to say that we have the solution to the problem that the FCC’s decision has handed us,” says Nathan Schneider, a media studies scholar in residence at the University of Colorado Boulder. Still, these localized options are important at the very least for the pressure they put on ISPs to deliver good service at a reasonable price, Schneider says. “The fundamental problem with the situation that we’re in now is that [many] broadband providers are monopolies, but are not being recognized as such by the government,” he says. “If we’re going to do away with the principle of [net neutrality], on whose terms do we want to do that—a big corporation or a company owned and operated by its customers?”

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/net-neutrality-loss-could-rekindle-isp-alternatives-for-internet-access

Parkland victim strikes back against this weeks worst person

Worst person of the week Ingraham v. Hogg

Update: Fox News show host Laura Ingraham announced on her show late Friday that she is taking next week off, after almost a dozen advertisers dropped her show after the conservative pundit mocked a teenage survivor of the Florida school massacre on Twitter.

Fox News show host Laura Ingraham announced on her show late Friday that she is taking next week off, after almost a dozen advertisers dropped her show after the conservative pundit mocked a teenage survivor of the Florida school massacre on Twitter.

Up to ten advertisers have abandoned Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s weeknight show as a direct result of her snark attack on MSD student activist David Hogg. The companies pulling their ads include TripAdvisor, Expedia, Hulu, Johnson & Johnson, Wayfair, Nestlé and Nutrish, Jos A Bank, Jenny Craig and Stitch Fix. (update: add Liberty Mutual, Ruby Tuesday, Atlantis Paradise Island Bahamas)

A spokesman for TripAdvisor said the company doesn’t “condone the inappropriate comments made by this broadcaster. In our view, these statements focused on a high school student, cross the line of decency.”

Fox Has not commented but Ingraham’s Twitter mockery of Hogg, followed by his call for an ad boycott, clearly left a mark. Ingraham  insincerely  apologized but Hogg said he’ll only accept the apology if she denounces the way Fox “has treated my friends and me in this fight.” This has stirred even more criticism of Hogg in right-wing circles…

We all have to remember that Hogg and his peers are still high schoolers. It’s easy to forget that when you’re staring a computer screen, launching Twitter grenades. Yes, IMHO, the students sometimes go too far, with harsh rhetoric that hurts their cause. Gun rights proponents have gone way too far in their responses to the students. The attacks and conspiracy theories only reinforce that these students have a lot of political power right now…Brian Stelter CNN

Nate Silver tweeted Thursday: “The thing about the Parkland students isn’t that they’re always spot-on — they’ve had better and worse moments as communicators. But they’re at least as effective at politics as most professional pundits who have done it for years. Naturally, that’s very threatening to the pundits…”

This is the same racist Fox News personality that tried to bully Lebron James and Dwayne Wade telling them to “shut up and dribble”

West Virginia coal baron tries to silence John Oliver

A Republican coal baron is suing John Oliver, HBO, Time Warner, and the writers for Oliver’s show over the most recent episode of Last Week Tonight.
The suit, filed on June 21 in the circuit court of Marshall County, West Virginia, holds that Oliver and his team “executed a meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character of and reputation of Mr. Robert E. Murray and his companies” by airing an episode that ripped into him. Murray runs the country’s largest privately owned coal company, Murray Energy Corporation.
“They did this to a man who needs a lung transplant, a man who does not expect to live to see the end of this case,” reads the complaint, which also lists Murray’s companies as plaintiffs.
The lawsuit isn’t a surprise to Oliver. In fact, the British comic said on the episode of his show that aired on June 18 that he expected it, noting that Murray has sued several other media outlets in the past (including, in May, the New York Times). In the episode, Oliver criticized Murray’s business practices, saying he doesn’t do enough to protect his miners’ safety. Oliver also noted that his team contacted Murray’s company before the episode aired, and that the company sent a cease-and-desist letter––the first time that had ever happened to his show.
Parts of the complaint read like it had been written by President Donald Trump. One paragraph says Murray “has built a strong reputation as one of the as one of the staunchest defenders and most ardent champions of the United States coal industry and America itself.” The complaint also claims that “[d]efendants’ broadcasts have vigorously supported and advanced Mrs. Clinton’s agenda.”
At the heart of Murray’s complaint is Oliver’s discussion of the collapse of one of his mines in Utah, which killed nine people. Oliver said on the show that a government report concluded the collapse happened because of unauthorized mining practices, and also noted that Murray holds the collapse actually happened because of an earthquake.
The complaint says Murray directed Oliver’s team to studies supporting that argument—and that he deliberately ignored them.
“Because Defendant Oliver omitted any mention of the other reports he was aware of that evidenced that an earthquake caused the collapse, as Mr. Murray correctly stated following the collapse, Defendant Oliver’s presentation intentionally and falsely implied that there is no such evidence,” the complaint said.
The complaint also said Murray’s website “was hacked and inundated with the message incited by Defendants: ‘Eat shit, Bob.’” And it says Murray’s health grew worse after Oliver’s show aired, “likely further reducing his already limited life expectancy due to his Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.”
Ever since Hulk Hogan (with an assist from Peter Thiel) sued Gawker into bankruptcy, high-profile lawsuits against media outlets tend to generate significant jitters. But Ken White, a First Amendment litigator at Brown White & Osborn LLP in Los Angeles, told The Daily Beast HBO and Oliver don’t have much to worry about.
“Overall I’d say it appears frivolous and vexatious,” he said. “Any core of merit is buried in nonsense.”
“It does arguably cite one or two statements (like the bit about earthquakes) that could possibly be defamatory, since they involve fact,” he said. “But for the most part the section describing the purportedly false statements is rambling and semi-coherent, mixing fact with opinion and insult.”
White said HBO’s lawyers will likely try to get the suit moved to federal court—especially given that West Virginia coal country state courts are unlikely to sympathize with sardonic New Yorkers.
“It looks like the Plaintiffs tried to craft the complaint to avoid federal court, but they probably won’t succeed,” he added.
A spokesperson for HBO, who hadn’t yet seen the full complaint, told The Daily Beast the company is confident nothing in the episode violated Murray’s rights.
“While we have not seen the complaint, we have confidence in the staff of Last Week Tonight and do not believe anything in the show this week violated Mr. Murray’s or Murray Energy’s rights,” a spokesperson said.
And Oliver is unlikely to lose sleep over the suit. As the episode ended, a person in a squirrel costume came onstage—a reference to a rumor that Murray started the coal company because a squirrel told him to—and held up an oversized check.
“Hey Bob, just wanted to say, if you plan on suing, I do not have a billion dollars,” the person in the squirrel suit said. “But I do have a check for three acorns and eighteen cents.”
“Oh, that’s very nice of you, Mr. Nutter Butter,” Oliver replied.
“It is,” said the squirrel. “It’s made out to, ‘Eat shit, Bob!’ Memo line: ‘Kiss my Ass!’”
“Thank you, Mr. Nutter Butter!” Oliver cried, jubilant.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/coal-king-sues-hbo-over-john-olivers-show

follow up: MSNBC backs down for now, O’Donnell stays on

Update of the previous post:  TRUMP REPEATEDLY PRESSURED MSNBC TO FIRE LAWRENCE O’DONNELL HOST OF “THE LAST WORD”, IS IT WORKING?

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/trump-repeatedly-pressured-msnbc-to-fire-lawrence-odonnell-host-of-the-last-word-is-it-working/

MSNBC will renew Lawrence O’Donnell’s contract, which was due to expire today. At least for now, the network’s increasingly conservative tilt—new show hosts include Greta Van Susteren, Nicolle Wallace*, Hugh Hewitt, and, on sister network NBC, Megyn Kelly—will not be bleeding into the primetime liberal line-up of Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, and O’Donnell. At the end of Wednesday’s The Last Word, O’Donnell congratulated an intern starting a new job next week and added, “You know where I’ll be next week? I will be sitting right here talking about the James Comey hearing and everything else that happens next week and everything that happens for the next couple of years.” Later he confirmed by tweet that he won’t get bumped from his 10 pm perch: “Yes I will be saying hi to Rachel @maddow at 10 pm for the foreseeable future.”
*(Some of us here at the Examiner have been enjoying Nicolle Wallace’s show, she has great enthusiasm for gleefully busting fellow Republicans for their hypocrisy supporting Trump.)

Though O’Donnell will remain at MSNBC, it’d be a mistake to think that protesters were overreacting. MSNBC, long considered the liberal answer to Fox News, is doling out valuable TV time to any conservative Never Trumper or ex-Foxer who bats an eyelash at them. The former Fox anchor Van Susteren has been hosting an hour-long weekday show at 6 pm since September. Wallace, a former communications director for George W. Bush and a top adviser for the McCain/Palin ticket (which she famously didn’t vote for) took over the 4 pm slot from Steve Kornaki just a few weeks ago. Right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt—who never-Trumped for a nanosecond—will reportedly get his own show on Saturday mornings. And to top it off, climate-change denier George Will, recently booted from Fox News for opposing Trump, has signed on as a contributor to MSNBC and NBC, where former Fox News star Megyn Kelly will debut her Sunday night show this weekend. In September, Kelly will also take over the third hour of NBC’s Today show.

O’Donnell supporters aren’t crazy to believe that MSNBC could be as ruthless as the next corporate media outlet. Just the day before O’Donnell announced his good news, we learned that CBS had fired Scott Pelley as the anchor of its nightly news show. Pelley has been outspoken about Trump—saying stuff like “It has been a busy day for presidential statements divorced from reality”—something unheard of for a network-news anchor. (Pelley will remain with CBS, however, returning full-time to 60 Minutes.)

MSNBC, of course, has its own history of unceremoniously shedding talent. In February, Tamron Hall quit both NBC and MSNBC after being told—just minutes before going live on air for her daily MSNBC news show—that Megyn Kelly would be bumping her from Today. That followed the purges of 2015, when Andrew Lack, the MSNBC executive, let go of, or moved to obscurity, some of the channel’s more progressive daytime voices—Ronan Farrow, Alex Wagner, Al Sharpton, and Ed Schultz—in an effort to make MSNBC look more like NBC and its straight-news approach. In early 2016, Melissa Harris-Perry quit her weekend show over disputes about editorial control. “They wanted us to cover politics in the narrowest sense,” Harris-Perry said at the time.

But even if Lack lusted for a more centrist prime time, it may not have made business sense to ax O’Donnell, as a number of the protesters pointed out to me. During the month of May, MSNBC earned its highest prime-time ratings ever, topping CNN and Fox in the desirable demographic of 25- to 54-year-olds for the first time in 17 years. And in terms of total viewers among MSNBC shows, also for the month of May, O’Donnell has had ratings second only to Maddow. Like CNN and Fox, MSNBC has Trump to thank for the ratings boost, but it has improved over the last year at far higher percentages than its rivals.

We don’t know what concessions either side may have made, but for now MSNBC issued a statement that portrays O’Donnell as just one of the five amigos: “Each weeknight, Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, and Brian Williams provide insight and perspective that lets you know you’re in the know.”

But in truth, many viewers consider only some of those hosts to be the last bastion of progressive TV news. “Lawrence O’Donnell and Rachel Maddow are essential to what’s left of my sanity,” Beverly Bullock told me at the rally. “A true, honest, crusading press is needed more than ever. The press is the only sector that’s really standing up for our country.”

And as much as anyone may or may not love O’Donnell, for some, the anxiety is not really about him. Claire Dillingham, a semi-retired teacher who attended the rally, said, “This is what I’m scared of—not of this or that individual losing a job so much as the whole attempt to tell the press to ‘Shut your mouth.’”

https://www.thenation.com/article/getting-last-word/

Trump repeatedly pressured MSNBC to fire Lawrence O’Donnell host of “The Last Word”, is it working?

Read our previous post: The voice of the resistance not so much racism and stupidly undermine MSNBC

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/voice-of-the-resistance-not-so-much-racism-and-stupidly-undermine-msnbc/

Lawrence O’Donnell, host of MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” has just four weeks left in his contract, and the cable network does not appear to be interested in renewing his deal. Four well-placed sources tell HuffPost that MSNBC has not been in contact with O’Donnell’s team of representatives to negotiate a new deal.

The absence of active negotiations weeks before a contract expires is highly unusual and often a sign that a contract won’t be renewed. News networks normally don’t risk letting the contract of a host who has a highly rated program expire or even come close to expiring before renegotiating. A short time-frame puts the network at a strategic disadvantage in talks, that’s why cable networks often start negotiating renewals six to nine months in advance of a contract ending.

A spokesman for NBC News declined to comment on “ongoing negotiations.” Although, multiple sources from inside and outside the network have told HuffPost that no negotiations have taken place.

O’Donnell, who has been appearing on the network since its inception, has hosted his highly rated program since the fall of 2010. “The Last Word” is the cable network’s second-highest rated program, according to Nielsen figures, behind only “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

O’Donnell has even been, on some nights, besting Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News among viewers ages 18 to 49, the demographic that television advertisers care about the most.

If O’Donnell’s contract is not renewed, that would not come as a surprise to many network insiders. Andy Lack, the chairman of NBC News, is no fan of O’Donnell’s program, sources say. Some say it’s because he doesn’t appreciate the liberal nature of “The Last Word,” but others say it’s about the fact that O’Donnell rejected Lack’s request to move his program from 10 p.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time. This decision was O’Donnell’s prerogative, two sources said, because his contract stipulates that his program must air in prime time.

O’Donnell’s refusal to move his program could have led Lack, who is known to bristle at dissent, to sour on O’Donnell, sources said. A senior NBC News executive disagreed with the idea that Lack isn’t a fan of O’Donnell’s show saying, “He is proud of and enthusiastic about all the work that’s being done across all of MSNBC’s primetime slate, including Lawrence’s program.”

There does appear to be some evidence of Lack’s distaste. O’Donnell has not had a face-to-face meeting with him since Lack returned to the network in 2015 after stints at Sony Music and Bloomberg Television, two sources said.

A senior NBC news executive said that Lack doesn’t take a heavy-handed approach with the cable network’s on-air talent and that frequent face-to-face meetings are often a sign that he isn’t satisfied. Sources familiar with the production of “The Last Word” say that Lack doesn’t interfere with the program’s editorial direction. And in Lack’s previous stint as NBC News president he was the one that pushed for O’Donnell to appear on the then nascent cable MSNBC network when it was founded in 1996.

Andrew Lack (second from left) meets with executives from Microsoft, General Electric and Drugstore.com in Manhattan to announce the creation of MSNBC.

Lack’s programming decisions and leadership style have caused tension internally at MSNBC leading staff members and on-air talent to express their displeasure internally and externally. For this story, HuffPost spoke to more than 10 sources inside and outside the network who asked to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to speak publicly about network business.

If O’Donnell’s contract is not renewed, the news would certainly be welcome to President Donald Trump, who has had a long-running feud with O’Donnell.

In 2011, O’Donnell called on NBC to fire Trump, then the host and executive producer of “The Celebrity Apprentice,” for pushing his racist and inaccurate “birther” conspiracy against President Barack Obama. In 2015, he also claimed that Trump was lying about his wealth. Trump threatened to sue O’Donnell for making false statements but never followed through on his threat (which O’Donnell had predicted).

According to three sources, Trump has pressured MSNBC President Phil Griffin to fire O’Donnell on multiple occasions. Griffin alluded to Trump’s push for O’Donnell’s ouster in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter last month, saying, “[Trump] started calling me all the time in 2011 to say Lawrence O’Donnell was a ‘third-rate’ anchor.”  Griffin and O’Donnell enjoy a cordial relationship but Griffin’s power as the President of MSNBC has been diminished by Lack since he returned in 2015. As a result, Lack will be the one to decide whether O’Donnell stays and under what terms.

There is a fear, among some at MSNBC, that Lack is making programming decisions in an effort to appease the Trump administration (an accusation that has been made of CNN and Fox News), which may lead to more access to the White House and in turn, conservative viewers.

A senior NBC News executive pushed back on this claim. “Is he bringing in more voices from all over the political spectrum? Yes. But that’s to make better programming and more informed analysis. We don’t do things to appease people in power. We hold them accountable.”

If MSNBC failed to renew O’Donnell’s contract, it would be unprecedented, given his high ratings.

It’s unclear who would replace O’Donnell if MSNBC declines to renew his contract. Multiple sources have told HuffPost that Brian Williams, whose program, “The 11th Hour,” is on MSNBC at 11 p.m. Eastern, has been eager to have an earlier start in the evening schedule.

If MSNBC failed to renew O’Donnell’s contract, it would be unprecedented, given his high ratings, but multiple sources tell HuffPost that Lack attributes O’Donnell’s high-ratings to heightened interest in Trump and the fact that his program’s lead-in is the top-rated Rachel Maddow show, and doesn’t credit O’Donnell’s star power and fan base for the high-ratings. Despite this, Lack is said to dislike when people attribute his cable network’s blockbuster ratings to Trump: He believes, according to multiple sources, that the high ratings are largely a product of his programming decisions.

A senior NBC News executive disputes both of these characterizations saying that Lack believes ratings success is more nuanced than attributing it to one or two factors. “He considers prime time to be the “op-ed section” of the cable news network, and believes MSNBC is on top right now because it has the smartest, most insightful and most dynamic opinion hosts in the business,” the executive said.

O’Donnell is not giving up on what appears to be his quest to stay at MSNBC. On May 3, he tweeted about “The Last Word” program beating Hannity in the ratings. “We need audience support now more than ever,” O’Donnell replied. “So thanks again.”

Friday night, he sent another Twitter message about his rankings. “Last night @maddow was #1 rated show in all of cable tv, not just cable news. @TheLastWord was #2,” he wrote. “Thanks for your support. We need it.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lawrence-odonnell-msnbc-future_us_59162d8ce4b00f308cf5534a

Dictatorship 101: Fire the FBI director investigating your regime, then start jailing reporters

Traitor Trump’s cronies copy National Fascist Party leader Benito Mussolini’s behavior.

A reporter has been arrested for pressing Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to say whether or not the Trump health care bill would make it harder for domestic violence survivors to obtain insurance.

West Virginia police arrested Dan Heyman at the state capitol Tuesday as he walked with Price and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, holding a recorder out and asking Price repeatedly about claims that insurers could refuse to serve survivors of familial abuse. That claim is based on inference from the bill’s provision allowing states to abandon consumer protections from Obamacare with federal permission.

Heyman had sought out Price on his way into the capitol. “At some point, I think [they] decided I was too persistent in asking this question and trying to do my job, so they arrested me,” Heyman told West Virginia Metro News. Heyman was later charged with “willful disruption of a governmental process,” according to the news service.

This is Tom Price. Don’t yell questions at Tom Price. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

A police report justifying the charge said the reporter “was aggressively breaching the Secret Service agents” and “causing a disturbance by yelling questions at Ms. Conway and Secretary Price,” the West Virginia Metro News reported. Heyman was only released after someone from his news agency posted a $5,000 bond. He faces a $100 fine and up to six months in jail under state law.

Heyman’s arrest is the most dramatic recent illustration of the chilling effect President Donald Trump’s election has had on the news business, but it is not the first.

The traveling press corps who followed Trump’s campaign were frequently turned into a side show at his rallies, kept inside a tight and prominently placed cordon where Trump himself would typically point them out as enemies to his supporters. He also occasionally remarked that America should “open up our libel laws” to make it easier to sue reporters who enjoy First Amendment protections.

In one high-profile incident, a senior campaign aide grabbed a reporter by the arm hard enough to leave bruises — an incident the campaign denied despite video evidence. Trump’s political persona frequently relies on cherry-picking media reports he likes and deeming all others “fake news.”

But journalists can handle being presented as a political enemy to the public. The use of state power to physically detain them and then pursue criminal penalties against them for doing their jobs is something different.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions wouldn’t rule out the idea of using cops and prosecutors to go after the press back in January. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) asked him to commit to “not put reporters in jail for doing their jobs” during his confirmation hearing, and he responded that “I’m not sure.” Subsequent reports that Sessions is considering criminal charges against Wikileaks revived deep concerns about press freedom under Trump.

Both Sessions’ exchange with Klobuchar and the reports of a potential Wikileaks prosecution primarily relate to issues of leaked information and source protection. Heyman’s detention and misdemeanor charge is obviously a different beast, pertaining to reporters’ physical and verbal conduct around the public officials they cover.

Heyman is not the first journalist to experience such rough handling by the legal system in the newly dawned Trump era. Several journalists were detained and charged with felony rioting at a mass roundup in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day. Their charges were eventually dropped.

But Heyman’s case is very different even from that mass-arrest sweep. He was solo, in a public building, repeatedly asking a public official for an answer on a matter of some controversy and great public interest.

Republicans and some reporters have scoffed at the idea that Trumpcare would treat domestic violence and rape as pre-existing conditions because the bill does not explicitly do so. But it is not difficult to infer that by allowing states to seek waivers to dump the most expensive health care patients into high-risk pools rather than requiring insurers to cover them at the same price as everyone else, those who suffer ongoing psychological or physiological effects from trauma could quickly be priced out of insurance coverage.

Price may not want to answer questions like Heyman’s. He may not appreciate being bird-dogged by a reporter rather than addressing the media through the controlled environment of a press conference.

But it’s hard to reconcile Heyman’s status as a member of the constitutionally-protected free press with the West Virginia capitol police’s decision that “yelling questions at” public officials in a hallway constitutes an illegal “willful disruption of governmental processes.”