Wisconsin Voter Roll Lawsuit Roils Media

A lawsuit filed by a conservative legal organization riled the media this week in Wisconsin, where the group said that voters should be taken off the rolls after thirty days of non-compliance. The organization, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), sued the Wisconsin Elections Commission for breaking its own laws.

The commission allegedly waited for up to two years to deactivate voters who may have moved, but WILL’s lawsuit noted, “State law requires voters to respond within 30 days of receiving the October mailing or be deactivated.” According to the Associated Press, the commission rejected a complaint from the group before and claimed the commission was in compliance with state laws.

The lawsuit said that the commission should remove the 234,000 voters from its voter registration list because those voters had not responded if they had moved within the thirty-day limit. Instead, the commission voted to extend the deadline to two years.

The local media, as well as the Associated Press, portrayed the lawsuit as partisan and voter intimidation. The Associated Press’s article, in its first paragraph, appeared to support keeping the names on the registration list when it said that the lawsuit lead to the “fear [it] could dampen turnout among Democrats in the 2020 presidential race.” It did point out that WILL said there was “no hardship” in declaring if a voter has moved or not and nor it is difficult to register on the day of elections in Wisconsin, but that was at the end of the article. Other Wisconsin news outlets parroted similar talking points like the Associated Press, portraying it as a voter “purge.”

Despite the media’s portrayal of the issue, WILL’s lawsuit appeared to be concerned about voter registration and voter integrity, not voter intimidation. The organization noted that registering to vote is not difficult in the state, as a photo ID can be presented and used to register then and there on the appointed election day. However, much of that information was buried in the articles like in the case of the Associated Press’s article, which is an example of media bias.

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Author: Spencer Irvine


Mainstream Media Buries story about ABC Analyst’s Tweet About Republican Congresswoman

The mainstream media has been accused for decades for shielding Democratic Party lawmakers and members of the media, and this week was not much different. ABC News chief political analyst Matthew Dowd tweeted an allegedly sexist statement about Republican congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).

Stefanik is considered a rising female star within the Republican Party, having been the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at age thirty in 2014. To encourage and support Republican women seeking to run for office, she started Elevate PAC, or E-PAC, to boost female GOP recruitment efforts.

Dowd tweeted, “Elise Stefanik is a perfect example of why just electing someone because they are a woman or a millennial doesn’t necessarily get you the leaders we need.” Dowd’s tweet, since deleted, was criticized by GOP lawmakers and pundits alike for allegedly being a sexist remark.

Dowd claimed that critics did not understand the point of his tweet, but later apologized for the tweet and deleted it. He said, “Hey @EliseStefanik, I just want to apologize for a tweet that is being misinterpreted. I didn’t mean to suggest you were elected only because you were a woman or a millennial. I deleted the tweet.”

Stefanik thanked those who supported her and also accepted Dowd’s apology.  She said, “Apology accepted @matthewjdowd – @ABCPolitics should be ashamed of your comment. This is one of the reasons young women don’t run for office.”

However, the mainstream media buried the story as if it never happened. CNN and NBC News, for example, did not publish stories on the social media controversy. On the other hand, right-leaning outlets, such as Fox News and the National Review reported on the Dowd-Stefanik controversy.

This disconnect in news coverage is disheartening because it should be an example of the media reporting on how the GOP protected a female lawmaker from alleged sexist criticism from a member of the media. But the media’s silence on the story reinforced the perception that the media is biased against those on the political Right and is more willing to protect its own when a controversy arises.

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Author: Spencer Irvine

Washington Post: Having a Woman Testify in Impeachment Inquiry Creates Dangerous Situation for Trump

Everything changes with the second round of public testimony in the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry because this time the witness is a woman, according to a story Friday in the Washington Post.

“For Trump, Yovanovitch’s testimony brings moment of reckoning on gender,” read the headline on Elize Viebeck’s story.

That moment began “during the pivotal phone call that sparked the House impeachment inquiry,” when “President Trump made a reference to gender as he smeared former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch,” the lead read.

“’The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news,’ Trump told Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky on July 25.” She does not mention the president of Ukraine agreed.

Trump she wrote, “then made an ominous prediction as he pressured Zelensky for investigations of his political rivals,” putting the Post in the position of accepting Democrats’ version of events before any judgment has been made. “’She’s going to go through some things,’ he said of the ambassador.”

Viebeck wrote that “as a leading female diplomat, political target of the president’s allies and a figure at the center of the Ukraine drama, Yovanovitch has crucial knowledge to impart when she testifies at Friday’s impeachment hearing.” Viebeck did not say what special insight Yovanovitch has because of her gender.

She also wrote Yovanovitch “enters the spotlight as the latest woman who has refused to acquiesce to Trump in the face of personal and gender-specific attacks.” But she does not say what gender-specific attacks Trump made on the former ambassador.

She says Yovanovitch’s removal “reflects some of the most complicated gender and political dynamics of Trump’s presidency” and that those dynamics are “magnifying … as the first woman to publicly testify prepares to confront Trump’s fiercest congressional defenders, nearly all men, about a campaign by other male allies of the president to force her from her post.”

She does not mention that not only are the president’s defenders mostly male but so are his chief attackers – Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.

She says “the symbolism of that conflict underscores the significance of the historic probe, which was initiated by the female speaker of the House – Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. – and made possible by female voters who helped deliver the House to Democrats in the last election.”

She then quotes a colleague of Yovanovitch from Georgetown saying “Seeing someone like Masha Yovanovitch come forward is going to be an extremely difficult moment for Trump. What I suspect the world will see when she walks into that hearing room is an individual who is not tall physically but really is a towering figure of integrity, inner strength and unswerving devotion to public service and telling the truth.”

She did not mention that truth telling appears to be somewhat of a problem for Yovanovitch.

She testified before Congress earlier that an email from a staffer on the House Foreign Affairs Committee about an “ugent” and “time-sensitive matter” the day after the Trump-Zelensky phone call became public was handled by the State Department’s Legislative Affairs Office and not her. But emails uncovered by Fox News show Yovanovitch had direct contact with the staffer and said she “would love to reconnect and looked forward to chatting.”

Yovanovitch also has been accused of providing a ‘do-not-prosecute’ to officials in Ukraine – ordering them not to investigate a variety of individuals and firms, including Burisma, the corrupt energy company for which Hunter Biden had a no-show $83,000-per-month job – and of ‘bad-mouthing’ the president in private conversations.

For Yovanovitch, who cried during her private testimony, Friday could even harder, Viebeck wrote. She “will face an Intelligence Committee with only four women – three Democrats and one Republican – out of 22 members. Female voices accounted for a little over 20 minutes of Wednesday’s roughly five-hour hearing …”

She should be ready for some quick questions, Viebeck cautioned.

“The aggressive approach of some Republican lawmakers could raise the potential for conflict. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, served as a leading interlocutor for the GOP on Wednesday, using a rapid-fire questioning style to try to embarrass or throw off the witnesses.”

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Author: Brian McNicoll

Mainstream Media Ignores Michael Avenatti News

Michael Avenatti made headlines for months due to his representation as the lawyer for former adult film star Stormy Daniels against President Donald Trump. He also flirted with the idea to run as a Democratic Party presidential candidate, but did not file to run for office. Now, Aveniatti is facing charges from federal prosecutors on trying to extort Nike, one of the top international apparel brands in sports.

Avenatti has been facing several specific extortion-related charges since March 2019, which were extortion, the transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort, conspiracy to commit extortion and conspiracy to transmit interstate communications with intent to distort. Federal prosecutors dropped the conspiracy charges this week, but added the charge for honest services wire fraud.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges and tweeted that he was “extremely pleased” that the conspiracy charges were dropped. Avenatti framed it as a political case by referring to the Department of Justice as “Trump’s DOJ.”

Yet the mainstream media mostly ignored the update on Avenatti’s case, despite their wall-to-wall coverage of Avenatti when he represented Daniels. Fox Business and Reuters were the only mainstream outlets to cover the updated charges against Avenatti. Additionally, the HuffPost was one of the only left-leaning media outlets to cover the news.

The media’s insistence to not report on the news surrounding Avenatti’s case is an example of media bias. The media interviewed Avenatti and his former client Daniels for months, but now that Avenatti has been accused of federal crimes, there is almost complete silence from the media. The media should recognize that they contributed to Avenatti’s brief stardom and activism and report on the progress of his case, whether he is guilty or not guilty. It would provide more context and clarity for their audiences, as well as a reminder to Americans to obey and honor the laws of the land and due process.

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Author: Spencer Irvine

Media Tries to Dirty Up Horowitz Report Before It Is Made Public

With the release of the report from Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz on the origins of the 2016 election now “imminent,” in the words of Attorney General William Barr, mainstream media has stepped forth to discredit it in advance of what are expected to be devastating findings and possibly even criminal referrals of Democrats.

The Washington Post claimed the Justice Department was not allowing witnesses to submit written feedback to the report, only to backtrack hours later and blame the confusion on Justice Department spokespeople.

MSNBC reported that Barr met with Trump in the Oval Office on Thursday and the two – along with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone – had held an “animated conversation” and submitted, without evidence, that this could mean the president is growing impatient with his attorney general.

Susan Hennessey, the executive editor of the Lawfare blog, a CNN legal analyst and senior fellow at the liberal Brookings Institution, got sarcastic in a series of tweets suggesting the president and attorney general should not meet while such an investigation is drawing to a close.

“What’s that you say? A normal Attorney General might try to go out of his way to observe norms and procedures for an IG investigation aimed at people the president has deemed political enemies so as not to erode confidence in the findings? Nonsense!” she said in one tweet.

“Pointing out the mounting departures from norms designed to safeguard against political interference and lend procedural credibility to outcomes can ONLY MEAN you’re scared of righteous truths,” she wrote in a follow-up tweet.

The Post’s claim was refuted within hours by the Justice Department, and a later story revealed the Post had relied on anonymous sources for its claim that witnesses would not be allowed to submit written responses but could respond verbally.

The Post claimed without evidence that Democrats were “hopeful Horowitz will disprove various conspiracy theories that have been offered about the case and refute Trump’s assertion that Mueller’s probe was a ‘witch hunt’ tainted by political bias against the president. But Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), said the findings would be “stunning” and “damning” and indicative of a “system being off the rails,” and most suspect he is on the mark.

It also painted the report as “likely to be a major credibility test for Barr, who has suggested impropriety by past leadership at the FBI.”

The NBC segment began with Brian Williams asking Philip Rucker of the Washington Post to “speculate wildly” on “what was going on in the Oval Office late today.”

He said “Marine One is idling, and it’s not quiet when it is. It’s very clear your ride has arrived if you’re the president. But he stayed behind in the Oval Office and again, all we saw was gesticulation and both men with his AG are talking in the Oval Office.”

Rucker said there were two things to remember about Barr – he is overseeing an investigation that the president “cares personally very deeply about” and that Barr has “himself traveled to several foreign countries to get to the bottom of, and there’s a desire among the president’s conservative allies for a conclusion to that investigation to be reached sometime this fall as a way to kind of detract attention away from the impeachment proceedings, as if that would be possible.”

He further said this “is not the first time we’ve seen a moment like this” … that Trump previously had kept a helicopter waiting while he shouted at former White House counsel Don McGahn, former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former adviser Steve Bannon.

An account in The Week said: “President Trump’s departure for a political rally in Louisiana was delayed by about 45 minutes on Thursday evening because he was having an ‘animated’ conversation” with Barr and others. It cited the White House press corps pool report, which noted Trump was meeting with Barr but said nothing about the conversation being “animated.”

Photo by trendingtopics

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Author: Brian McNicoll

Mainstream Media Hit From the Left Over Bolivia Coverage

It is not uncommon to see complaints from the right about bias in the pages of the New York Times and other establishment media. But a piece Wednesday on the Salon website hits these outlets from the far left.

The headline: “Why the Bolivia coup is not a coup – because the U.S. foreign policy establishment wanted it” – places the blame on policy makers. But the subhead – “Uniformed generals forced Evo Morales to resign. Isn’t that the definition of a coup? Not to the mainstream media” – more fully explained where reporter Alan Macleod was going with his story.

“Army generals appearing on television to demand the resignation and arrest of an elected civilian head of state seems like a textbook example of a coup,” Macleod wrote in his lead. “And yet that is certainly not how corporate media are presenting the weekend’s events in Bolivia.”

He went on: “No establishment outlet framed the action as a coup; instead, President Evo Morales ‘resigned’ (ABC News), amid widespread ‘protests’ (CBS News) from an ‘infuriated population’ (New York Times) angry at the ‘election fraud’ (Fox News) of the ‘full-blown dictatorship’ (Miami Herald). When the word ‘coup’ is used at all, it comes only as an accusation from Morales or another official from his government, which corporate media have been demonizing since his election in 2006.”

Macleod took particular aim at the Times, whom he said “did not hide its approval at events, presenting Morales as a power-hungry despot who had finally ‘lost his grip on power,’ claiming he was ‘besieged by protests’ and ‘abandoned by allies’ like the security services. His authoritarian tendencies, the news article claimed, ‘worried critics and many supporters for years,’ and allowed one source to claim that his overthrow marked ‘the end of tyranny’ for Bolivia. With an apparent nod to balance, it did note that Morales ‘admitted no wrongdoing’ and claimed that he was a ‘victim of a coup.’ By that point, however, the well had been thoroughly poisoned.”

He also hit CNN for dismissing the election results as “beset with ‘accusations of election fraud,’ presenting them as a farce where ‘Morales declared himself the winner.’” He said Time presented the catalyst for his “’resignation’ as ‘protests’ and ‘fraud allegations,’ rather than being forced at gunpoint by the military.” CBS News, he said, didn’t bother with formalities. Its headline read simply: “Bolivian President Evo Morales Resigns After Election Fraud and Protests.”

Macleod noted that “Delegitimizing foreign elections where the ‘wrong’ person wins, of course, is a favorite pastime of corporate media.”

It is made worse by the media’s tendency to rely too much on “uncritical acceptance of the Organization of American States’ opinions on elections, including in coverage of Bolivia’s October vote, despite the lack of evidence to back up its assertions.”

Besides, he said, “No mainstream outlet warned its readers that the OAS is a Cold War organization, explicitly set up to halt the spread of leftist governments,” and a report from the far-left Center for Economic Policy Research, which Macleod describes as an “independent Washington-based think tank,” that the election results were valid.

Framing matters, Macleod wrote. “’Coups,’ almost by definition, cannot be supported, while ‘protests’ generally should be,” he wrote.

But then he advanced his theory of why the media turned against Morales.

“Morales was the first indigenous president in his majority indigenous nation – one that has been ruled by a white European elite since the days of the conquistadors. While in office, his Movement Towards Socialism Party has managed to reduce poverty by 42 percent and extreme poverty by 60 percent, cut unemployment in half and conduct a number of impressive public works programs. Morales saw himself as part of a decolonizing wave across Latin America, rejecting neoliberalism and nationalizing the country’s key resources, spending the proceeds on health, education and affordable food for the population.”

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Author: Brian McNicoll

NYT Comes Out Against Transparency in Research That Underlies EPA Regulations

It would seem like the kind of policy proposal that would please those interested in seeing a clean environment – a regulation that forbids the Environmental Protection Agency to base rules only on data that can be recreated and verified independently.

But because not forcing researchers to disclose their data has led to big victories for the left in the environmental wars, “scientists and physicians … say the new rule would undermine the scientific underpinnings of government policymaking,” wrote the New York Times on Tuesday.

“The measure would make it more difficult to enact new clean air and water rules because many studies detailing the links between pollution and disease rely on personal health information gathered under confidentiality agreements,” wrote Lisa Friedman of the Times under “EPA to Limit Science Used to Write Public Health Laws.”

The Times does not say why new clean air and water rules were needed or what problems they would need to address.

The proposal does not seek to limit science, of course. What the EPA is trying to do is to ensure it can replicate and verify the studies on which it bases policy. Officials “called the plan a step toward transparency and said the disclosure of raw data would allow conclusions to be verified independently,” Friedman wrote.  

At issue is the Six-Cities Study undertaken by Harvard and other institutions in the early 1990s. The study used medical data and occupational histories from 22,000 people in six cities. It concluded fine particulate matter – tiny particles released from sources such as coal-fired power plants – contributed to illness and early death for the people in affected communities.

Its findings helped the environmentalists prevail in Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court case that gave the EPA the power to regulate particulate matter in the course of enforcement of the Clean Air Act.

“But the fossil fuel industry and some Republican lawmakers have long criticized the analysis and a similar study by the American Cancer Society, saying the underlying data sets of both were never made public, preventing independent analysis of the conclusions.”

Friedman said this proposal, which called for additional transparency, was “part of a broader administration effort to weaken the scientific underpinnings of policymaking.”

But this is worse, she said, because “in this case, the administration is taking aim at public health studies conducted outside the government that could justify tightening regulations on smog in the air, mercury in water, lead in paint and other potential threats to human health.”

The Six-Cities Study was undertaken, in part, with federal funding, which means it was not conducted “outside of government” and that government should have the right to the underlying data, say conservatives who work in the environmental movement.

The Times story includes quotes condemning the proposed rule from a variety of sources but presents only one in favor. “Industry groups said the rule would ensure greater public understanding of the science behind regulations that cost consumers money,” it wrote to introduce a quote from the American Chemistry Council.

Despite the overwhelming outpouring of negative comments from groups such as the far-left Union of Concerned Scientists, the Times wrote, the newest version “does not appear to have taken any of the opposition into consideration.”

It then got to the point. “Beyond retroactivity [the new rule would be retroactive, unlike a proposal advanced earlier under former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt], the latest version stipulates that all data and models used in studies under consideration at the EPA would have to be made available to the agency so it can reanalyze research itself,” Freidman wrote. “The politically appointed agency administrator would have wide-ranging discretion over which studies to accept or reject.”

It did not mention that this wide-ranging discretion over which studies to accept or reject already exists and led to the current situation.  

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Author: Brian McNicoll

WaPo Profiles Warring White House, Based Solely on Anonymous Sources

President Donald Trump and his press secretary both have said recently the White House is operating efficiently and in unison in its response to the impeachment inquiry House Democrats are leading on Capitol Hill.

But a story in Tuesday’s Washington Post says a feud between two West Wing heavyweights threatens the ability of Trump and his administration to respond to the impeachment charges.

We may be able to see for ourselves in coming days as the Democrats begin open hearings on their impeachment inquiry, Erica Werner, Josh Dawsey, Carol Leonnig and Rachel Bade reported for the Post in “White House infighting flares amid impeachment inquiry” – subhead: “A dispute erupts between the Mulvaney and Cipollone camps over how to counter House Democrats’ impeachment push.”

But otherwise, we have to take the Post’s word for it because this story, like many Post stories before it that attempted to dish dirt on internal problems in the Trump White House, lacks any credible sourcing.

The lead asserts: “The White House’s bifurcated and disjointed response to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry has been fueled by a fierce West Wing battle between two of President Trump’s top advisers, and the outcome of the messy skirmish could be on full display this week, according to White House and congressional officials.”

The Post says acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney “has urged aides not to comply with the inquiry and blocked any cooperation with congressional Democrats” and that “top political aides at the Office of Management and Budget, which Mulvaney once led, have fallen in line with his defiant stance.”

It does not say what is defiant about the stance, as opposed to legally prudent in the face of the Democrats’ onslaught. It attributes these sentences to “officials” who were “speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk freely about the behind-the-scenes developments,” but it does not say whether these are officials of the U.S. government, whether they work at the White House now or ever or whether they are even allies or opponents.

It provides no sourcing at all to the claim that “Mulvaney’s office blames White House counsel Pat Cipollone for not doing more to stop other government officials from participating in the impeachment inquiry, as a number of State Department officials, diplomats and an aide to Vice President Pence have given sworn testimony to Congress.”

Cipollone did not want Mulvaney to hold the press conference at which he said of course Trump had sought a quid pro quo – investigate corruption or lose U.S. aid – and since “has fumed that Mulvaney only made matters worse,” according to “two senior Trump advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.”

It says former national security adviser John Bolton also was furious with Mulvaney for trying to join a lawsuit filed by a former Bolton aide that sought to determine whether executive branch employees, such as Bolton, his aide and Mulvaney, could be compelled to testify before Congress. It referred to earlier Post reporting on this matter, which also was based on anonymous sources. It said “several administration officials” were “baffled” by Mulvaney’s attempt to join the lawsuit – he has since decided to file his own – and attributed that to “people familiar with the matter.”

People who work at the Office of Management and Budget have “watched in dismay as political appointees at the OMB took the highly unusual step of overruling the concerns of career staffers to hold up the Ukraine military aid, according to multiple former agency officials who remain in touch with current employees and spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect career staffers.”

Who did put their name with their quote? White House officials.

“We are one team and we work well together. The palace intrigue stories are false and they need to stop,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an email.

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Author: Brian McNicoll

World Series MVP Strasburg Calls Out Tweet Suggesting He Snubbed Trump at White House Ceremony

Washington Nationals pitcher and World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg called out a tweet as “fake news” which featured a video that appeared to show him snubbing President Trump’s handshake during the team’s visit to the White House on November 4th.

This was Strasburg’s first tweet in nearly two years and it used Trump’s favorite phrase when referring to the media.

A slightly longer clip posted later by the Washington Free Beacon’s David Rutz showed Strasburg shaking hands with both Trump and the First Lady.

Rudy Gersten, who issued the tweet that caught Strasburg’s attention tweeted that he is a “lifelong conservative Republican” who also works for a conservative organization and was just having some”lighthearted fun.”

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Author: Don Irvine

Michael Bloomberg 2020 Speculation Highlights DNC Primary Issues

Many Democratic strategists and some in the mainstream media agreed that former vice president Joe Biden would run away with the presidential nomination for the Democratic Party, therefore gaining the right to challenge incumbent President Donald Trump in 2020.

However, Biden’s fundraising woes, campaign trail gaffes, and past statements on busing and other race-related issues have weighed his campaign down. Biden’s campaign struggles led to a vacuum within the primary field, one which Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) seek the capitalize on.

Now, there apparently will be another wrench thrown into the 2020 campaign cycle: the possible entrance of billionaire, political activist and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. The reason behind the timing is that Alabama has an early filing deadline for presidential candidates.

Bloomberg is estimated to have wealth worth about $52 billion and will plan on self-funding his presidential campaign, while the rest of the DNC primary field focuses on fundraising.

But why is Bloomberg expected to file for a presidential campaign? Axios wrote that Bloomberg “increasingly became concerned that all the leading Democrats have weaknesses Trump could exploit in the general election.” A CNN analysis said that Bloomberg fears a Warren nomination, due to her progressive policies and rhetoric, and that his “candidacy is born of the perceived weakness of Biden’s run.” NBC News’s article said that his “rationale for getting in the race now would be that the field of Democrats isn’t strong enough to beat President Donald Trump.”

Bloomberg’s potential candidacy appears to be a lock, although the corresponding paperwork has not been filed yet. But the announcement came due to the Democratic Party’s divisive and crowded primary field. If the DNC primary did not feature a stark contrast of ideology, between the more moderate Biden campaign and the progressive Sanders and Warren campaigns, Bloomberg would have most likely sat out of the 2020 primary.

Because Bloomberg allegedly perceived Warren’s progressivism as a threat to American capitalism, and combined with Biden’s weak fundraising and polling, he felt the need to announce he is planning to run for president. Bloomberg’s announcement exposed the weak primary field for the Democratic Party, if not Biden’s weakness, and it will make the 2020 primary race much more interesting. The mainstream media will not openly blame the DNC primary field for Bloomberg’s entrance into the race, but the reality is that the DNC primary field is not as strong as the party would have hoped.

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Author: Spencer Irvine