Feb 28, 2017

Top Senate Dem: Making reporters the enemy is a "strongmen" strategy

U.S. government work via Flickr

Dick Durbin, a high-ranking member of Democratic leadership in the Senate, lit into President Trump Tuesday over his attacks on the media — comparing them to tactics used by dictators the world over:

"The kinds of attacks on the media we're seeing in America would have seemed very similar to people living in the Ukraine or the Baltics when those nations were under Soviet [rule]. And it would seem familiar today in a lot of authoritarian states like Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Turkey and Hungary. Turning reporters into enemies — not just adversaries, but enemies — is a strategy that strongmen use to silence critics."

The details: The Illinois Democrat said that the free press was under attack from the Russian government but also from the administration. He pointed to Trump's tweet earlier this month referring to the media as the "enemy of the American people" but was also rankled by oppositional comments made about the press by top White House staffers like Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.

Worth noting: Durbin says he's privately heard concerns about Trump's posture towards the press from Republicans. "They say to me things like, 'We know you're worried, we're worried too,'" he told reporters, but noted that "that's about the best I can get out of them in the Senate gym."

Key context: Durbin made the comments during a speech to local broadcasters where he said the government should maintain libel laws, support public broadcasters and pass a federal shield law to protect journalists' sources. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper

Situational awareness

Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Mike Bloomberg offers to release women from 3 NDAs
  2. Wells Fargo agrees to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges
  3. Bloomberg campaign says Tennessee vandalism "echoes language" from Bernie supporters
  4. Scoop: New White House personnel chief tells Cabinet liaisons to target Never Trumpers
  5. Nearly half of Republicans support pardoning Roger Stone

Wells Fargo agrees to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges

Clients use an ATM at a Wells Fargo Bank in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo: Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Wells Fargo agreed to a pay a combined $3 billion to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday for opening millions of fake customer accounts between 2002 and 2016, the SEC said in a press release.

The big picture: The fine "is among the largest corporate penalties reached during the Trump administration," the Washington Post reports.

Bloomberg offers to release women from 3 nondisclosure agreements

Mike Bloomberg. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg said Friday his company will release women identified to have signed three nondisclosure agreements so they can publicly discuss their allegations against him if they wish.

Why it matters, via Axios' Margaret Talev: Bloomberg’s shift in policy toward NDAs comes as he tries to stanch his loss of female support after the Las Vegas debate. It is an effort to separate the total number of harassment and culture complaints at the large company from those directed at him personally. That could reframe the criticism against him, but also protect the company from legal fallout if all past NDAs were placed in jeopardy.