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

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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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Burn Bags and Use of Personal Email: Justices’ Security Practices Even Worse Than Leak Investigation Showed

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Supreme Court employees raised security concerns that were not made public when an internal investigation was completed following the leak of a draft opinion reversing abortion rights.

Multiple sources familiar with the court’s operations told CNN that justices often used personal email accounts for sensitive communications, employees used printers that didn’t produce logs and “burn bags” to collect sensitive materials for destruction were often left open and unattended in hallways.

“This has been going on for years,” one former employee said.

Some justices were slow to adopt email technology — they were “not masters of information security protocol,” according to one source — and court employees were afraid to confront them over the security risks.

Supreme Court marshal Gail Curley in her investigative report noted that printer logs intended to track document production were insufficient, but a former employee said employees who had VPN access could print documents from any computer, and remote work during COVID-19 shutdowns and otherwise meant draft opinions could have been taken from the building in violation of court guidelines.

Curley’s report noted that court methods for destroying sensitive documents should be improved, but three employees said striped burn bags supplied to chambers were often left sitting out unattended, and each justice had their own protocols for disposing of court documents.

A source familiar with court security practices said some colleagues stapled burn bags shut, while others filled them to capacity and left them near their desks, and others simply left them sitting in hallways where anyone with access to non-public areas could have taken sensitive materials.

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Ethics Complaint Against Sinema Urges Investigation Into Staffers’ Duties and Her Possible ‘Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars’

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If you are hired to work in Senator Kyrsten Sinema‘s office on Capitol Hill there is a 37-page memo you’ll want to read detailing all the responsibilities her staffers are required to perform, from getting her groceries, calling Verizon and going to her D.C. home to wait for a repair person if the internet goes out, scheduling massages, and ensuring her very detailed airplane requirements are met.

“It is your job to make her as comfortable as possible on each flight,” the memo says, as The Daily Beast first reported in December.

But now a group of 13 non-profit organizations have joined to file an ethics complaint against Senator Sinema (I-AZ), a new Daily Beast report reveals Friday, including details from that 37-page memo which the newly-independent lawmaker directed to be drawn up. Dated Thursday, the complaint is titled: “Letter to Senate Ethics Committee Regarding Reports of Sinema Abusing Taxpayer Dollars.”

“Senate Ethics guidelines stipulate that staff should not be asked to perform personal errands for members. This is an unambiguous ethical boundary,” the group’s complaint reads.

READ MORE: Santos May Owe Thousands in Unpaid Traffic Violation Fines and Fees Across Two States: Report

It also points to that 37-page memo, which it says, “indicates that staff are required, as a condition of their jobs, to carry out numerous tasks that are outside the scope of public employment, including doing personal errands for the Senator, carrying out household tasks at her private residence, and advancing their own funds for her personal purchases. It makes unreasonably precise scheduling demands, and former staff have confirmed some of the allegations.”

The allegations continue.

“And, most troubling, it calls on staff members, who are employed and paid by the public and explicitly barred from campaign activity, to schedule and facilitate political fundraisers and meetings with campaign donors, presumably during the workday while they are on the clock and physically on federal property.”

“Senate staff are prohibited under your guidelines from engaging in political activity ‘on Senate time, using Senate equipment or facilities.’ While you have not prohibited campaign activity outside work hours, the plain language of the memo clearly implies that Sen. Sinema expects her staff to carry out these scheduling tasks during the workday. And these tasks may separately violate Senate Rule 41.1, which explicitly prohibits Senate employees from ‘solicit[ing]’ campaign funds.”

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The complaint also alleges that “Sen. Sinema required her staff to schedule three physical therapy and massage sessions a week related to her training for athletic competitions, and to tightly manage her dietary schedule — while allotting only a 30-minute period on Wednesdays for meetings with the constituents she represents.”

The carefully-worded complaint adds, “the allegations paint a picture of a Senator who is not only unresponsive to her constituents, but also disrespectful and even abusive to her employees and wholly unconcerned about her obligations under the law.”

The Daily Beast has posted a copy of the complaint here.

You can read The Beast’s full report here.

 

 

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Santos May Owe Thousands in Unpaid Traffic Violation Fines and Fees Across Two States: Report

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When he left for Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. George Santos also appears to have left a string of unpaid traffic violation fines and fees in two states, including red light, double parking, and overtime parking citations totaling thousands of dollars.

The embattled serial liar and freshman New York GOP lawmaker “may owe more than $3,400 in unpaid citations, according to records from New York City and Florida,” CBS News reports.

Included in that total is $1,299.10 from Florida for toll violations that “racked up late fees and were ultimately sent to collections agencies.”

READ MORE: George Santos Says Man Interviewed for Staff Position ‘Violated’ His Trust After Secretly Recording Conversation

It appears that in November of 2016, as soon as he got his New York driver’s license after having one in Florida, a car previously ticketed via a red light camera whose plates match one registered to Santos “began piling up citations in New York City — 29 in the next two and a half years, according to city government records, which do not identify the drivers of vehicles being ticketed.”

“More than $1,800 in payments were made for 17 citations, but another 12 remain unpaid, with $2,142.61 still due, according to city records.”

CBS News also points to a New York Post report from January revealing “a Nissan Rogue driven frequently by Santos in recent months had been issued speeding tickets at least five times since he was elected on Nov. 8, ‘including four times in school zones.'”

Santos is under numerous state and federal investigations that span the gamut from campaign finance to allegedly stolen charity funds donated to save the life of a veteran’s service dog. The dog died after the vet could not afford to pay for the operation.

READ MORE: ‘Bioweapons? FFS’: House Oversight Chairman Mocked for Pushing Unfounded Balloon Conspiracy Theories

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