Friday links! Put the T in the P edition

The official logo of the Trump-Pence campaign

The official logo of the Trump-Pence campaign

For a candidate who usually benefits from foreign tragedy, Donald Trump sure drew the deuce yesterday. He was all set to announce Indiana governor Mike Pence as his running mate, but then a truck driver killed 84 people during Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France. Newt Gingrich called on us to realize that we are at war with “people who seek to destroy our civilization,” which is about the level of insight he offers. Chris Christie refused questions from his front yard, after a storm knocked out his power and a former aide pled guilty to bribery charges. Similarly contending with forces beyond his control, Trump postponed his announcement of a running mate out of respect for Nice, then had to announce early this morning, apparently to beat Indiana’s deadline for gubernatorial candidates to withdraw from the race. Then he released the vaguely sexual logo above. Today is Friday, and even the luckiest people in the world get snakebit sometimes. Won’t you savor the comeuppance with me?

First, the good news: Opposition research on Pence is all ready to go. Buzzfeed has collected a series of op-eds he wrote 15 years ago, including a pretty exciting one lambasting a tobacco-company settlement as big government. Quote:

Despite the hysteria from the political class and the government, smoking doesn’t kill. In fact, 2 out of every three smokers does not die [sic] from a smoking related illness and 9 out of ten smokers do not contract lung cancer. This is not to say that smoking is good for you…news flash: smoking is not good for you. If you are reading this article through the blew haze of cigarette smoke, you should quit. The relevant question is, what is more harmful to the nation, second hand smoke or back handed big government disguised as do-gooder health care rhetoric.

As you can see from their many deviations from AP style, these aren’t the kind of op-eds that appear in a newspaper. Buzzfeed doesn’t say where any of them came from, as you might expect from the internet’s number-one aggregator of kitten videos, but they appear to be from his old Mike Pence for Congress website. How did Buzzfeed become aware of these 15 year-old screenshots from a website that no longer exists? We cannot know.

On a completely unrelated note, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting has concluded that Buzzfeed’s coverage of President Obama has been 99% uncritical. In addition to repeatedly abusing the slang term “goals,” the site’s Obama stories include a “ranking of the hottest US Presidents” that puts him at number one. FAIR implies that this favorable coverage owes to Comcast’s $200 million investment in the site. Comcast has also put $200 million into Vox and owns MSNBC. Eventually these business interest will come into conflict, as long loading times on Comcast cable internet put video-intensive news sites out of business.

People are watching too much video on the internet anyway. In North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory has taken the proactive step of making police body camera footage off-limits to the public. People who appear in the footage can request a copy, but it’s no longer part of the public record. Allowing the general public to watch body-cam footage can lead to problems, as Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison explained:

A lot of groups think we should show everything from start to finish, and we just can’t do it. They think we’re trying to hide something and that’s not what it is. But if we go into a house for a domestic (assault) and if the wife has been assaulted has been unclothed, we don’t want that on YouTube. We don’t want that out there.

Ah yes—the rash of controversial police videos that show naked women. That’s what’s got us protesting in the streets. I suppose when you’re sheriff, your bullshit doesn’t have to be convincing. You can pretty much do whatever you want, as long as no one sees you.

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