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‘Ableist Propaganda’: Media Criticized for Negative Treatment of Fetterman’s Use of Closed Captioning Device After Stroke



Pennsylvania Democratic U.S.. Senate nominee John Fetterman has been very open about the stroke he suffered just days before the primary, and appeared in an interview Tuesday night with NBC News after asking for a simple accommodation: a speech-to-text device so he could read the questions, which he was more than able to answer.

But NBC News correspondent Dasha Burns, who interviewed Fetterman, is now being accused of misrepresenting Fetterman’s abilities.

“‘Because of that auditory processing, he still has a hard time understanding what people are saying,’ Ms Burns said, while explaining the use of closed caption technology for her interview,” The Independent reports.

“She added that ‘some of the conversations’ she had with the Democrat before his first sit-down interview post-stroke – which were without closed caption help – were a ‘challenge for a canddidate’ and that ‘it wasn’t clear he understood what I was saying’ without the use of captions.”

READ MORE: Dr. Oz Campaigned in Front of Hitler’s Car at a Fundraiser Hosted by Matt Gaetz’s In-Laws and Rick Scott’s NRSC: Report

Fetterman, a former mayor and current Lt. Governor, has never had a problem doing his job and there his no indication he does now.

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell put the entire situation in context.

“I have a confession to make. I used a teleprompter in this interview last night,” he tweeted, pointing to his interview with Fetterman which was after the NBC News interview with Burns.

“The truth is I am not able to do my show without a teleprompter. (That’s true of every TV news host who is discussing the way John Fetterman does interviews.)”

By many accounts the NBC News interview was good, but some, like now-former New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin took to social media to claim it did not go well for the Democrat, who is leading his GOP opponent, celebrity physician Dr. Oz, by a strong margin.

READ MORE: ‘What I Saw Was Abuse’: Allegations of Dr. Oz’s Experiments Killing Hundreds of Animals Fact-Checked by Whistleblower

“This is a rough clip for ⁦@JohnFetterman⁩, will only fuel questions about his health,” Martin tweeted, pointing to the NBC News interview.

Axios senior political correspondent Josh Kraushaar tweeted out the quote from Burns, writing, “NBC News’ Dasha Burns: ‘In small talk before my interview [with Fetterman], it wasn’t clear he understood what I was saying.'”

He, and Burns, were excoriated.

Journalist Molly Jong-Fast, who contributes to The Daily Beast and Vogue, among other top publications, responded to Kraushaar by tweeting: “This is bs.”

“I interviewed @JohnFetterman on @FastPoliticsPod two weeks ago,: she said, pointing to her podcast.

Kara Swisher, a noted journalist, contributing editor at New York magazine, and formerly of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, also responded to the Burns quote.

“Sorry to say but I talked to @JohnFetterman for over an hour without stop or any aides and this is just nonsense. Maybe this reporter is just bad at small talk.”

“Listen to the interview in which we did not edit the ums or ahs out as we typically do for everyone else. There were few slips — I had more — and at no moment did he seem distracted,” she also tweeted.

Swisher, who is highly respected, did not stop there.

“Lastly the most irksome thing for me when I had a stroke in 2011 is all Dr. Google folks who kept trying to give me advice (‘Slow down,’ they’d say; ‘Fuck you,’ I’d reply) or study my speech for signs of trouble. It is a slow recovery but many younger people do just fine,” she added.

READ MORE: Dr. Oz Trounced in Newsmax Interview as Host Demands Explanation for ‘Wegner’s’ and ‘Crudité’ Ad

New York magazine writer Rebecca Traister also pushed back – hard – against the mainstream media’s attacks on Fetterman.

“I wrote in my lengthy profile of Fetterman this week about how open he has been about his ongoing stroke recovery, and how awful it is to watch not just Fox but mainstream media push for ‘transparency’ even as he offers just that,” she writes, pointing to her article.

“Watching tv news/online pundits leer over clips of an interview in which he’s completely engaged and communicative is stomach-turning and a super depressing example of what I was trying to describe,” she adds, pointing to these excerpts:

“Every week, Fetterman’s public engagement has increased, & nothing about his increasingly frequent rallies & media interactions is at odds with what doctors suggest would be normal for a 53-year-old four months out from a serious stroke and expected to make a recovery.”

“Yet legitimate newspapers are pushing for further documentation with some of the energy once applied to Hillary’s emails, while the right-wing carnival barkers treat complete medical records as they did Obama’s birth certificate.”

And she adds, “Fetterman speaks about what it’s like to have a doctor (Oz) mock his recovery—a gross irony, yes. Also ironic is news media clamoring for transparency then themselves offering distortion: implying challenges are cognitive when they’re not, failing to contextualize accommodations.”

CBS News Senior White House & Political Correspondent Ed O’Keefe is also among those being blasted for attacking Fetterman.

“An important interview with top Senate contender. Will Pennsylvanians be comfortable with someone representing them who had to conduct a TV interview this way?” he tweeted, suggesting that using a teleprompter-like device was too much of an accommodation.

Benjamin Dreyer, the copy chief at Random House and the author of “Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style,” responded to O’Keefe by asking, “What in God’s name is the matter with you?”

Another Twitter user responded, noting: “FDR was crippled by polio and helped lead USA through unfathomable catastrophe and media would now turn him into a circus freak.”

Others on social media, like this attorney, are also blasting NBC News.

“NBC News is pushing ableist propaganda to imply John Fetterman isn’t well enough to be a Senator for Pennsylvania because he requested closed captioning. Meanwhile, Republicans believe Herschel Walker has brain damage and they are pouring millions in his Georgia race.”

Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic clinical instructor Alejandra Caraballo says, “It’s absolutely disgusting what the media is doing to John Fetterman. He has a hearing impairment as a result of his stroke and they’re treating it as a scandal. It’s one of the worst examples of ableism in politics I’ve ever seen.”

Even the retired former MSNBC host Chris Matthews made an appearance on “Morning Joe” and mischaracterized Fetterman’s abilities.

In his interview with O’Donnell, Fetterman has responded to critics, saying, “The truth is, is that I’m going to be feeling better in January, but [Dr. Oz is] going to still be a fraud!”


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Watch Live: President Biden to Deliver Rare Address to the Nation on Bipartisan Debt Ceiling Agreement



President Joe Biden will make a rare address to the nation Friday evening, to share with the American people the results of successful negotiations with Republicans to avert what could have been not only a national but global economic disaster had the debt ceiling crisis not been averted.

Biden is being credited for smart and savvy negotiations while keeping out of the public eye and allowing Republicans to control the narrative, while steering the agreement to one best for the American people.

Even Speaker Kevin McCarthy “conceded that he had been impressed with Biden’s negotiating team during the talks, calling them ‘very professional, very smart’ and ‘very tough at the same time,'” HuffPost reported Wednesday.

Many extremist House Republicans were hoping for a default, and over the past several weeks they made clear they did not understand what the consequences would have been.

RELATED: ‘Objectively Amazing’: Economists Cheer ‘Extraordinarily Robust’ and ‘Close to Unprecedented’ Jobs Report

Watch President Biden below at 7 PM ET, or at this link.

RELATED: ‘Republicans Got Outsmarted by a President Who Can’t Find His Pants’: GOP Congresswoman Throws Debt Ceiling Tantrum

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FBI Agrees to Brief Top House Oversight Leaders on Unsubstantiated Allegation Against Biden



Under threat of a contempt of Congress referral against FBI Director Chris Wray, the Bureau has agreed to allow a briefing for the top Republican and top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee on a years-old unsubstantiated allegation, which has been called a second-hand tip, accusing then-Vice President Joe Biden of a supposed wrongful act.

The existence of the lone, unclassified document, called an FD-1023 form, until recently was not even verified by the FBI.

Chairman Jim Comer (R-KY) and Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-MD) “will receive a briefing from the FBI and review the FD-1023 form behind closed doors in a secure SCIF, a sensitive compartmented information facility at the Capitol rather than going to FBI headquarters, as the bureau had initially offered,” CNN on Friday reported.

READ MORE: Classified Pentagon ‘War Plans’ Document Trump Bragged About in Audio Recording Is Missing: Report

“While the document contains the allegations made by an unnamed whistleblower, it doesn’t provide proof that they are true, people briefed on the matter said. The FBI and prosecutors who previously reviewed the information couldn’t corroborate the claims.”

Chairman Comer, who has been accused of using his position on the powerful Oversight Committee aid Donald Trump’s efforts to regain the presidency, late last month appeared to validate that accusation.

The unverified FD-1023 form “has origins in a tranche of documents that Rudy Giuliani provided to the Justice Department in 2020, people briefed on the matter said,” CNN notes.

“According to Comer,” CNN adds, the FD-1023 form, “dated June 30, 2020, says [a] foreign national allegedly paid $5 million to receive a desired policy outcome, based on unclassified and legally protected whistleblower disclosures.”

On Thursday, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who has teamed up with Chairman Comer, came under fire for admitting he does not care whether or not the accusations against President Biden are true or not, he wants to pursue them regardless.

READ MORE: Classified Pentagon ‘War Plans’ Document Trump Bragged About in Audio Recording Is Missing: Report

CNN earlier this week reported that even then-Attorney General Bill Barr questioned the validity of the alleged document.

“The allegations of wrongdoing by the then-vice president, many originating from sources in Ukraine, were dubious enough that Attorney General William Barr in early 2020 directed that they be reviewed by a US attorney in Pittsburgh, in part because Barr was concerned that Giuliani’s document tranche could taint the ongoing Hunter Biden investigation overseen by the Delaware US attorney.”

Ranking Member Raskin, a former constitutional law professor, in a statement this week characterized the FD-1023 as containing “unsubstantiated, second-hand claims,” and called it a “tip.”

Raskin has also accused Comer of being determined to send a contempt of Congress referral for Director Wray to the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

“It is increasingly clear that Committee Republicans have always planned to hold Director Wray in contempt of Congress to distract from the obvious fact that they do not have evidence to support their unfounded accusations against President Biden. This latest political maneuver underscores Chairman Comer’s determination to use the Committee to help former President Trump’s reelection efforts and pander to extreme MAGA Republicans.”

Last month, The New Republic reported, the “House GOP accused Joe Biden and his family … of engaging in business with foreign entities—but were unable to provide any actual evidence linking the president to any wrongdoing.”

“House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer released a 65-page memo detailing a sprawling investigation into Biden and some of his relatives, particularly his son Hunter Biden. Nowhere in the massive document was there a specific allegation of a crime committed by Biden or any of his relatives.”


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Decision to Not Charge Pence in Classified Docs Probe Is ‘Prelude to DOJ Seeking Charges Against Trump’: Legal Expert



Mike Pence will not be charged for being in possession of classified documents, found in his Indiana home, the U.S. Dept. of Justice reportedly has told the former Trump vice president in a letter. Some legal experts believe DOJ is wrapping up its investigations into classified documents found in Pence’s and President Joe Biden’s homes to clear the decks for a decision to seek charges against ex-president Donald Trump over his unlawful removal of hundreds of classified documents from the White House, and subsequent refusal to return them even after being served with a subpoena.

“The decision comes ahead of Pence’s planned announcement next week that he will run for president in 2024,” CNN reports, noting it has obtained and verified a copy of the DOJ letter. “It allows Pence to offer an additional contrast between himself and former President Donald Trump, his political rival who’s under serious investigation by the Justice Department and others.”

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, an MSNBC/NBC News contributor and professor of law, responded to the news Pence will not be charged.

“This is what happens when you voluntarily return items to the govt, don’t claim they’re yours, hide them & lie about,” she said, clearly referring to Donald Trump’s actions. “Also: showing them off to others.”

RELATED: Former DOJ Official Says Audio of Trump Admitting to Keeping ‘War Plans’ Makes it ‘Inconceivable’ He Will Not Be Charged

“Confident this is a prelude to DOJ seeking charges against Trump for those reasons,” she added.

NYU Law professor of Law Ryan Goodman, a former U.S. Dept. of Defense Special Counsel, apparently agrees.

“Discover classified documents at your home after leaving the White House, immediately acknowledge and turn the documents over to the FBI/Archives, and look what happens,” he writes.

Earlier this week, responding to news Special Counsel Jack Smith has an audio recording of Donald Trump admitting he kept a classified Pentagon document apparently detailing a possible attack against Iran, Goodman reiterated his belief that the ex-president will face not only obstruction charges but charges under the Espionage Act.

“War plans are among the most highly classified documents. Puts pressure on DOJ to indict, and a jury to convict,” wrote Goodman. “Make no mistake. This is squarely an Espionage Act case.”

“It is not simply an ‘obstruction’ case,” he added. “There is now every reason to expect former President Trump will be charged under 18 USC 793(e) of the Espionage Act. The law fits his reported conduct like a hand in glove.”

Watch CBS News’ report on DOJ’s decision to not charge Pence below or at this link:


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