Your government is being run by online trolls 

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Your government is being run by online trolls 
March 7th, 2018
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This is fine

So the big news yesterday, well, we repeat ourselves, but hoo boy, it’s a lot. We’ll start with the scoop from Kate Kelly, Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker at The New York Times, Gary Cohn to Resign as Trump’s Top Economic Adviser. If it sounds familiar, Max Slater-Robins observes, “this article reads very similarly to the Hope Hicks one.” Talia Lavin invites you to “imagine resigning because your boss supports tariffs... not because he supports nazis.” (The Onion also weighs in on this point with Gary Cohn Resigns In Protest Of Trump’s Bigoted Comments Towards Aluminum.)

In their coverage for The Wall Street Journal, Gary Cohn Resigns as White House Economic Adviser After Losing Tariffs Fight, Nick Timiraos, Peter Nicholas and Liz Hoffman write that one person being considered to replace Cohn is Andy Puzder — the same Andy Puzder who withdrew his nomination for labor secretary after allegations of domestic abuse against an ex-wife surfaced.

At The Washington Post, Damian Paletta and Josh Dawsey take a look at How the Washington establishment is losing out to little-known Trump advisers on trade. Tweets Dawsey, “Mattis has argued tariffs aren't needed for national security. Rob Porter tried to block Peter Navarro from Oval. Gary Cohn argued case every day and tried to tell POTUS the world had changed & his views were outdated. But Trump wanted tariffs.” Max Boot highlights the “Ignorance in action: ‘The president considered the advice, but said he was skeptical of economists and their data. He had promised this sort of policy as a presidential candidate, and it was popular with his base.’”

And according to new reporting this morning by Jonathan Swan at Axios, per two senior administration officials, Trump wants to start his trade war tomorrow.

President gets his wish

Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire of AP News write of West Wing turmoil with staff exits; no chaos, Trump says. “Come for the lead; stick around for the kicker: Great read from @zekejmiller @jonlemire,” says Nancy Benac.

Meanwhile, sources tell CNN that Trump is emboldening Anthony Scaramucci to publicly attack White House chief of staff John Kelly. That story, by Kaitlan Collins and Dan Merica, Trump complicit with Scaramucci attacks on Kelly. Tweets Jeff Stein, “President gets his wish. ‘I like conflict. I like having two people with two points of view,’ Trump said Tuesday when asked about internal strife during a news conference. ‘I like watching it, I like seeing it.’”

See you in court

And before you knew it, another story broke, and this one is “A first? Porn star sues sitting president,” as Jennifer Epstein tweets. That scoop, from NBC News’ Sarah Fitzpatrick, Stormy Daniels sues Trump, says ‘hush agreement’ invalid because he never signed. Edward-Isaac Dovere points out that “a porn star has been playing a months-long game of chess with the president of the United States.”

But Nick Miroff advises, “Forget Stormy: ‘As one of Trump’s closest advisers, Cohen played a role in at least two episodes involving Russian interests that have drawn Mueller’s attention.’” He links to the reporting by Rosalind Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post, Special counsel has examined episodes involving Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer.

In other Michael Cohen news, Betsy Woodruff and Spencer Ackerman of The Daily Beast found out that Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Received Inside Info From Russia Probe. Adam Serwer explains: “Republicans on the intel committee supposedly investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election have instead been feeding Trump's attorney information.” David Greenwald wonders, “did I miss the hour where there this was very important news and Nunes should resign.”

Three strikes, whatevs

MJ Lee of CNN reports, Office of Special Counsel: Kellyanne Conway violated Hatch Act. Richard Painter points out, “In any other White House, a single major ethics violation would result in dismissal. This is her third, and all three within the same year. She needs to go.” But Scott Shuey says, “Unfortunately, this isn’t from Mueller. That would actually have had consequences.”

Dots, connecting

Not to be overlooked in all of this drama, though, “This is an important development. A possible link between the United Arab Emirates and Trump is helping Mueller in a new phase of the investigation: The flow of foreign money to Trump World,” tweets Matt Purdy, who’s referring to Adviser to Emirates With Ties to Trump Aides Is Cooperating With Special Counsel (22,000+ shares), by Mark Mazzetti, David D. Kirkpatrick and Adam Goldman of The New York Times. “Not clear how this all adds up but a lot of movement on Mueller front recently,” says Nicholas Riccardi, and Lara Weber sees “Dots, connecting.”

“On top of everything else, Russian groups also tried to collect personal and business data from Americans by pitching business directories, getting people to sign petitions, and even paying ppl for self-defense classes (and collecting info about attendees).” Kevin Carty summarizes the latest from Shelby Holliday and Rob Barry at The Wall Street Journal, Russian Influence Campaign Extracted Americans’ Personal Data.

Joke, right?

In other news, “Your government is being run by online trolls…” notes Joshua Holland, who links to the story by Amanda Terkel of HuffPost, Ben Carson Removes Anti-Discrimination Language From HUD Mission Statement, stressing “self-sufficiency” instead.

But at least it’s “Nice to see the out of control regulatory agency that watches over predatory lenders has finally been reigned in,” says Nick Stockton. Ken Sweet of AP News has that scoop, Payday lenders, watchdog agency exhibit cozier relationship. He tweets, “SCOOP: Emails obtained by The @AP show the former CEO of a payday lending company personally asked CFPB Acting Director Mulvaney @CFPBDirector to be considered for a job. Her company had been under investigation by the @CFPB.” “Joke, right?” asks Herb Greenberg.

At POLITICO, Emily Holden writes that Climate change skeptics run the Trump administration, and it’s going to impact the world long after he leaves office. Tweets Emily Stephenson, “All the president’s climate skeptics: People who share his disbelief in climate change oversee disaster planning to national security to housing standards.” Jeremy Hance offers “Points for the must ‘duh’ headline today. But let’s not call them skeptics, they are paid deniers.”

Mr. Magoo sues California

“Now we know what Jeff Sessions will be talking about tomorrow,” tweets Todd Johnson, who links to the coverage by Katie Benner and Jennifer Medina at The New York Times, Trump Administration Sues California Over Immigration Laws (25,000+ shares). Yes, “Mr. Magoo sues California,” as Dennis Romero headlines it. And this seems a little . . . odd: “The GOP argument comes down to, wait for it, the idea that the federal government’s priorities supersede states’ rights,” notes Jose A. Del Real. Antoine Gara’s take: “There will be an ultra long economic tail to this stupidity.”

Bankers and bullets

John Lauerman tweets, “@business follows the gunmaker dollar and finds…” Wells Fargo Is the Go-To Bank for Gunmakers and the NRA. That’s from Bloomberg’s Shahien Nasiripour, Polly Mosendz and Brandon Kochkodin. “Bankers and bullets,” as Neil Weinberg puts it. “LOL, Wells Fargo can’t stay out of the news,” tweets Josh Brown.

In other finance news, Sinead Cruise and Arno Schuetze of Reuters file this exclusive: According to sources, Goldman puts London staff on notice for German move by June. Reuters tweets, “After months of private lobbying, Goldman Sachs decides it can no longer wait for #Brexit clarity.”

Media round-up

The Statesman is being sold to Gatehouse in $47.5M deal. Shonda Novak of the Austin American-Statesman has details.

As Nadia Khomami says, it’s the “End of an era. It was a joy to go from blu-tacking favourite NME covers to my bedroom wall to getting my first ever work experience and later working as a reporter there. Farewell✌🏼” Mark Sweney of The Guardian has the story as NME ceases print edition after 66 years. Mary Carson can “Remember when reading it was akin to a religion.” Adds Adrian Kennedy, “Sad Day. RIP NME I remember the day I returned from uni and realised my brother had thrown out my complete collection 1976 - 1978.”

On the other end of the spectrum, New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo reveals, For Two Months, I Got My News From Print Newspapers. Here’s What I Learned. Tweets Paul Monies, “@fmanjoo slow-jams the news: Get news. Not too quickly. Avoid social.” Alex Weprin likes it: “I've been doing a variation of this for the past few weeks and wholeheartedly endorse. It has also made me a happier person. Seriously!” Adds Karen Feagins, “All of this. Also I'm learning that when people say ‘the media isn't covering X,’ that really means ‘X isn't showing up on my social media feeds.’”

And we’ll end today with the “Headline of the year,” as Steve Greenlee dubs it, for the piece by Jonah Bromwich and Maggie Astor of The New York Times, It’s Going to Snow Again. How Much? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  That’s right, “NYT has jumped the shruggie shark,” says Nick Niedzwiadek.

Watercooler
Question of the Day

Yesterday, we asked: In the original draft of The Big Lebowski script, what was revealed to be The Dude’s source of income?

Answer: He was the heir to the Rubik’s Cube fortune.

Congrats to Ames Alexander, first to tweet the correct answer.

Your question of the day for today is…Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone on this date in 1876. What historic phone call did Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite make to U.S. Congressman Tom Bevill on February 16, 1968?

As always, click here to tweet your answer to @MuckRack.

Career Updates
Sanchez, Johnsen, McLaughlin on the move

Carlos Sanchez has joined Texas Monthly magazine as its news and politics editor, responsible for directing and reporting on Texas politics and other news with an emphasis on digital. He was most recently the executive editor of The Monitor (McAllen, TX). Prior to that, he was managing editor of the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s Baton Rouge hub for Nola.com. He has also worked in editor positions at the Waco Tribune-Herald and the Austin American-Statesman, and as a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Washington Post.

Britt Johnsen is joining the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal to cover residential real estate, manufacturing, food and beverage production, and diversity. Most recently, she was a multimedia reporter at Southwest News Media. She has also worked at 10 Missions Media and Patch and was a business editor at the St. Cloud Times.

And Jenna McLaughlin, a reporter for Foreign Policy Magazine, is joining CNN as a reporter covering national security. Before Foreign Policy, McLaughlin covered surveillance, digital espionage, national security law and the NSA at The Intercept.

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