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Morning Reads: Corporate Lobbyists Welcome Trump; Facebook’s Role in the Election

A roundup of some of the stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Morning Reads: Corporate Lobbyists Welcome Trump

Washington’s K Street – heart of the political lobbyist industry. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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The swamp says hello –> “On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump pledged to ‘drain the swamp’ — the capital’s pervasive influence industry that works the political system for its clients,” Kevin Bogardus writes for Environment & Energy News. “Yet after Trump’s shocking win last week, that ‘swamp’ of lobbyists and consultants, once wary of the Republican outsider, is now welcoming Trump to Washington DC, offering policy advice, joining his transition team and promising support to a candidate who once was considered scandalous even in many GOP circles.” Marc Lampkin, managing partner of the lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, tells Bogardus, “It is good for corporate America. It is good for lobbyists.”

Facebook renegades –> Fake and misleading news proliferating on Facebook may have had a hand in tipping the election, and the company, which has always claimed it is not a news source but a forum for sharing content, is having an internal debate about its ethical role in spreading false information. CEO Mark Zuckerberg seems determined to shrug off responsibility, but many of his employees disagree.

Sheera Frenkel reports for Buzzfeed: “Facebook employees have formed an unofficial task force to question the role their company played in promoting fake news in the lead-up to Donald Trump’s victory in the US election last week, amid a larger, national debate over the rise of fake and misleading news articles in a platform used by more than 150 million Americans. The task force, which sources tell BuzzFeed News includes employees from across the company, has already rebutted a statement made by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a conference last week that the argument that fake news on Facebook affected the election was ‘a pretty crazy idea.'”

In The New York Times, the University of North Carolina’s Zeynep Tufekci writes, “In holding fast to the claim that his company has little effect on how people make up their minds, Mr. Zuckerberg is doing real damage to American democracy — and to the world.”

Paris deal in jeopardy? –> At a news conference yesterday, Obama cast doubt that Trump would pull the US out of the Paris agreement to tackle climate change: “These international agreements, the tradition has been that you carry them forward across administrations, particularly if, once you actually examine them, it turns out that they are doing good for us and binding other countries into behavior that will help us.”

The Trump team is sending different messages, with one person on his transition team telling Reuters that they are “seeking quick ways to withdraw the United States.” Valerie Volcovici and Alister Doyle report: “Trump’s advisers are considering ways to bypass a theoretical four-year procedure for leaving the accord, according to the source, who works on Trump’s transition team for international energy and climate policy.”

Informed advice –> With last week’s election results, America is facing a congressional conservative majority of the sort it has not seen since 1928. The country is about to lurch right. One state knows what we may be in for: North Carolina, where ultraconservative politicians held both the state house and the governors’ mansion until Gov. Pat McCrory was ousted last Tuesday. At the Charlotte Observer, Peter St. Onge writes, “Here, when Republicans got power, they wanted more of it. They intruded on local government issues, even going so far as redrawing a school board voting district. The party of local control became exactly the opposite. Could that happen nationally with the party that cherishes states’ rights?”

Temporary victory for Dakota Access opponents –> Julia Carrie Wong for The Guardian: “The US Army Corps of Engineers has completed its review of the Dakota Access pipeline and is calling for ‘additional discussion and analysis,’ further delaying completion of a project that has faced massive opposition from indigenous and environmental activists. The statement comes amid heightened tensions between Native American activists and the surrounding community over the pipeline, which the Standing Rock Sioux tribe says could contaminate its water supply and destroy sacred sites. On Saturday, a man brandished a gun during a confrontation with protesters and fired his weapon into the air.”

In the long run, however, a Trump presidency does not look good for pipeline opponents, Antonia Juhasz reports for Grist. Protests against the pipeline are planned today in more than 100 cities worldwide.

Understatement –> The “alt-right” news source Breitbart, whose former chairman, Steve Bannon, is now Trump’s chief strategist, is planning to be “the best place for news on the Trump White House.” No surprises there.

Meanwhile, white supremacists are celebrating Bannon’s appointment as a sign that they can trust the new president, and that he means business. “You have an individual, Mr. Bannon, who’s basically creating the ideological aspects of where we’re going,” David Duke told CNN. “And ideology ultimately is the most important aspect of any government.”

RIP, our public television colleague Gwen Ifill –> Ifill was moderator and managing editor of Washington Week and managing editor and co-anchor of the PBS NewsHour. On last night’s NewsHour, her co-anchor Judy Woodruff described Ifill as “a supernova in a profession loaded with smart and talented people.”

Woodruff and Ifill were the first women to co-anchor a national newscast, one of many firsts in Ifill’s distinguished career. As an award-winning and highly respected African-American newswoman, both in print and television, she was an inspiration. “An extraordinary journalist,” President Obama said yesterday. “She always kept faith with the fundamental responsibilities of her profession, asking tough questions, holding people in power accountable, and defending a strong and free press that makes our democracy work. I always appreciated Gwen’s reporting, even when I was at the receiving end of one of her tough and thorough interviews.”


Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!



We produce this news digest every weekday. You can sign up to receive these updates as an email newsletter each morning.