House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. speaks at her weekly news conference in Washington, D.C., Nov. 17, 2016.(Photo: Andrew Harnik, AP)
WASHINGTON Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was expected to winanother term Wednesday morning as the leader of House Democrats, turning back calls from some in recent weeks who said it was time for a change.
Democrats were meeting in a closed session before casting votes in a secret ballot.
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, had launched a long-shot bid to replace Pelosi two weeks ago after Democrats took a beatingon Election Day, failing to win the White House or control of the Senate or House. He had said on Tuesday that he was within striking distance of besting Pelosi.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., told reporters outside the meeting room where members were casting ballots Wednesday morning that he believes Ryan's challenge provided healthy competition.
"I think it's aired some issues that are, have needed to be aired," he said.
But Connolly stuckwith Pelosi.
"I, at the end of the day, believe we need stable leadership," he said. "With the impending Trump administration, Democrats need to be united and we need a shrewd strategist, and I think that's Nancy Pelosi."
Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., told reporters outside the meeting room that he supportedRyan because he said the Democratic Party has been in a "steady decline" for years and it's time to try something different.
"We've got some soul-searching to do here and I think we've got to change direction here and widen our base to include working people," he said.
Lynch said Ryan would more connect with them than current leadership who he said has swung tothe far left. "We talk about free-range chickens more than we talk about working people," he said
Pelosi sent several missives to colleagues in recent days, promising to shake up the way she oversees House Democrats, including providing more opportunities for more juniormembers to participate in leadership decisions.
As we continue to discuss how we communicate the values of liberty, justice and dignity for all Americans, many members have come forward eager to participate, she wrote in a letter Friday. I am energized by the enthusiasm of members and our outside allies who see the opportunities that lie ahead and the commitment we have to address the needs of Americas working families," she said.
Pelosi, 76, has been the House Democratic leader since 2003. Whileshe helped lead the party back to the majority in 2006 and became the first female speaker of the House she also oversawthe loss of that majority in 2010, and the three elections since have not improved Democrats' status in the chamber.
That led Ryan to launch his bid.
Ryan said Tuesday that there are fewer Democrats in the House now than at any time since 1929, and it is time to grow that number.
Weve really got to ask ourselves: What are we going to tell the American people? That what happened on (Election Day) and what weve not been able to do since 2010 is OK; Were going to keep going down the same path, he said on CNN. Or will we have a new messenger, a new message, a new brand and a new Democratic Party?
Pelosi hasmaintained from the start that she hadthe votes to remain Democratic leader, declaring on the day she announced she would run for another term that she already had the support of two thirds of the Houses 190-odd Democrats.
Once again, the more disciplined Donald Trump is giving way to the Twitter-wielding Donald Trump.
After a stretch of more low-key campaigning, Trump is spending the weekend under fire for comments aboutHillary Clinton that seem to invite violence against her,fighting with the media, and engaged in a dispute with a former Republican defense secretary allon top of a revival of the "birther" issue involving President Obama.
The Republican presidential nominee is also virtually tied with Clinton in recent election polls, and says voters are responding to his message about striking back at economic decline, foreign policy turmoiland specific issues like illegal immigration.
"A lot of people agree with me" on immigration, Trump said during a speech Saturday in Houston. "It seems everybody agrees. ...You almost say, what's not to agree with?"
Eric Schiffer, an independent political consultant, said Trump seems to revert to more aggressive form whenever he is doing well and his polls are up: "Something happens, and he seems to lose the discipline that has helped him."
Trump engaged in moretraditional campaigningSaturday, devoted in part to immigration. Speaking in Houston to The Remembrance Project, anon-profit that according to its website "advocates for families whose loved ones were killed by illegal aliens," Trump said that "notone more American life should be given up in the name of open borders."
The Houston trip came a day after Trump sought to put the birther issue behind him, reading a brief statement saying he finally believes Obama "was born in the United States, period." Aftermore that five years of claims that Obama may have been born in another country, Trump did not explain his change of position.
Hours later on Friday, Trump again raised the specter of violence against Clinton. Claiming that his Democratic opponentopposes gun ownershiprights, Trump suggested that her "bodyguards" drop their weapons and disarm: "Taketheir guns away, she doesn't want guns take them, let's see what happens to her."
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook called the comment "out of bounds,"and said "we've seen again and again that noamount of failed resets can change who Donald Trump is."
The Secret Service protects both presidential nominees.
The Clinton campaign and allies said this isn't the first time Trump has linked potential violence to the Democratic nominee. Last month, while discussing Clinton, gun rights and the Supreme Court, Trump said: "If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. ... Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I dont know."
Taking on Twitter early Saturday, Trump explained his latest comment in terms of the right to bear arms: "Crooked Hillary wants to take your 2nd Amendment rights away. Will guns be taken from her heavily armed Secret Service detail? Maybe not!"
Trump continued to stay busy on Twitter Saturday, striking back at former Defense Secretary Robert Gates for pointed criticism.
Gates, appointed to the Pentagon by President George W. Bush and retained by Obama, criticized both Trump and Clinton in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on challenges facing the next commander-in-chief. But while Clinton has "credibility issues," Gates wrote that Trump is in a "league of his own" and is unqualified for the job.
He has no clue about the difference between negotiating a business deal and negotiating with sovereign nations, Gates wrote.A thin-skinned, temperamental, shoot-from-the-hip and lip, uninformed commander-in-chief is too great a risk for America.
Trump counter-attacked by tweeting that "I never met former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He knows nothing about me. But look at the results under his guidance a total disaster!"
The Republican nominee also expressed displeasure with the media in a string of Saturday tweets.
For example:"@CNN just doesn't get it, and that's why their ratings are so low and getting worse. Boring anti-Trump panelists, mostly losers in life!"
For another: "Crazy Maureen Dowd, the wacky columnist for the failing @nytimes, pretends she knows me well--wrong!"
In recent weeks, the lower-keyTrump has engaged in outreach to African-American voters and to women voters, two groups that give him low ratings in part because of involvement with "birther" attacks on Obama.
While Trump and aides may be seeking to bury the issue, it is likely to surface during the series of three debates with Clinton that starton Sept. 26.
Clinton "should be able to score points on this with suburban women who will decide this election," said Schiffer, the political strategist and chairman ofReputationManagementConsultants.com.
Less than two months before the Nov. 8 election, some analysts see two Trumps: one who appeals to nationalist conservatives, another seeking to reach more moderate Republican suburbanites, particularly women.Nicole Hemmer,an assistant professor at the University of Virginia's Miller Center, said it seems like he's "telling people what they want to hear."
Hemmer added: "I would guess we're going to see these two Trumps throughout the rest of the campaign."
I think we saw last week that Facebook Live could become the most intelligent cable news network ever built, said Jonathan Klein, a former president of CNN, who now runs a digital media company called Tapp. With more than 1.65 billion users, he said, Facebook effectively has one and a half billion news bureaus to capture news, and theyre capable of doing things that a cable news network could only dream of doing.
Yes, Mr. Klein is speculating about Facebooks potential path. At this point, neither Facebook nor Twitter is anything close to a TV news network. Facebook Live was started just a few months ago in partnership with several news organizations (including The New York Times, which receives payments from Facebook for producing Live videos). Until last week, it was best known for gonzo journalism involving weird tricks with food. Twitters live service, Periscope, is older, but it too is better thought of as a series of one-off clips than a comprehensive source of news.
But you can bet both services will expand their horizons. Twitter announced this week that it was streaming the Democratic and Republican conventions in partnership with CBS News. It also announced a plan to stream Bloombergs TV shows, and it has a deal to show National Football League games later this year.
Photo The CNN anchor Don Lemon preparing to go on television after the mass shooting last month at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Cables grip on breaking news is under threat by apps like Facebook Live and Periscope, from Twitter. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times Its not clear yet what shape Facebooks plans for Live will take, especially since the company has been reluctant to think of itself as a news company. Yet it wouldnt take many deals and product changes to turn Facebook into a worthy substitute for one of the cable news networks.
Soon you might log on to Facebook and see, right at the top of your feed, a collection of videos produced by professionals and amateurs and tailored to your interests breaking news and analysis related to topics you like, all of which load instantly in your feed, ad-free, and without any of the constant, interminable waiting for stuff to happen that characterizes traditional cable news.
As a business matter, this might be a danger for TV. As Matt Rosoff explained last week in Business Insider, live coverage was supposed to be the industrys steadiest bulwark against the internet. Thanks to online networks like Netflix, people are dropping cable subscriptions as if they were toxic; one of the few remaining reasons to keep paying a monthly fee is to watch live news and sports, which are both difficult to get online.
Continue reading the main storyNow that rampart is disappearing. If you turned on one of the cable news networks last week, you would have most likely seen videos lifted straight from streaming apps playing in endless televised loops. If you watched for more than a few minutes, you would have been forgiven for wondering, Wait, if all this video is coming from Facebook, why am I watching TV?
Then theres TV newss demographic cliff. People who regularly watch cable news are old. According to statistics compiled at the end of last year, CNNs prime-time audience was the youngest in cable news with a median age of 59. The median age of Fox Newss prime-time audience is 68. (TV news isnt alone here. The median age of a subscriber to The New York Timess digital edition is 54; for print subscribers, its 60. But of course, we all know that with age comes sophistication.)
In the past, an aged audience might not have raised red flags, because it was generally the case that younger people grew into their parents news habits. But as online alternatives improve, the less likely that is to happen.
The next generation just doesnt ever intend to watch the 6 oclock or 11 oclock or any other newscast, said Andrew Heyward, a former president of CBS News who is now a visiting researcher at the MIT Media Lab.
Its possible to make too much of the threat that live streaming poses to TV news. Citizen journalism has gotten a lot of attention from techno-optimists in the last decade, but blogging, tweeting, podcasting and everything else havent replaced traditional journalism so much as they have expanded its tone and range. Thats likely to happen on TV too; streaming apps wont kill CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, but as the apps become more popular, they will force TV news providers to shift their approach to coverage.
The more chaotic and unstructured the world of online live video becomes, the more important the curator, analyst or honest broker of information can be, Mr. Heyward said.
In the best situation, TV news could become just such an honest broker: Instead of showing you only the news of the day and the most superficial hot-take debates surrounding it, TV networks could respond to the internet by pumping more resources into in-depth reporting, analysis and explanation, cultivating a wider range of perspectives.
As Mr. Klein put it, Maybe all these years, the importance of scintillating video has been overblown, and the mission for news outlets could be to help viewers understand what all that video really means.
Fox News Chairman-CEO Roger Ailes(Photo: Alex Kroke, AP)
Its been said that Roger Ailes runs the influential, highly rated Fox News Channel like a feisty political campaign, quick to respond in no-holds-barred fashion to real and perceived critics.
The 76-year-old executive will need to muster all his bluster and fight as he faces one of hisgreatestchallenges since assuming the helm at the network as itsfounding CEO in 1996.
Gretchen Carlson, a former host of The Real Story and Fox & Friends, sued Ailes in a state court in New Jersey on Wednesday, alleging that Ailes sabotaged her career because she refused his sexual advances and that she was subjected towhat her suit said was severe and pervasive sexual harassment at work. The lawsuit has a sole defendant, Ailes, Fox News CEO, but it also citesher former Fox & Friends colleagueSteve Doocyfor allegedly treating her in a "sexist and condescending" way.
Carlson, a Minnesota native and a former Miss America, left Fox on June 23 when her contract was not renewed. Carlson also alleged that Ailes ogled her and asked her to turn around so he could view her posterior, and commentedabout Carlsons figure and legs.
The lawsuit depicts a combustible mix of gender politics and workplace harassment, simmering againstthe backdrop of a controversial, hard-charging TV news operation now wincing at a bold charge from the most unlikely source a former employee who seemed to be the model of a loyal solider.
For Fox critics and many liberals, it is a satisfying dose of comeuppance for an operation that hasnever been shy about sharply criticizing the Obama administration and leftist politics in general. Fordefenders of Fox, the dominant force in cable news and a powerful player in Republican politics, the lawsuit isa play by a sour-grapes ex-employee who lost key assignments because she was no longer drawing the ratings needed to compete with rivals.
So what does it all mean for the future of AIles, the architect of the cable juggernaut?Its premature to jump to any conclusions, saysKerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University in Georgia and author of Dark Genius: The Influential Career of Legendary Political Operative and Fox News Founder Roger Ailes. Hes a survivor. If anything, he proved that he can remake himself over and over in different contexts.
But the lawsuit is also occurring at a time of interesting changes at Fox's parent company, 21st Century Fox, and some analysts say that may not be an insignificant factor in how the saga plays out.
Ailes has kept his corner office at Fox News largely because the network continues to overwhelmits competitors in the ratings wars as well as his close association with 21st Century Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch.
About a year ago, Murdochs sons, Lachlan Murdoch and James Murdoch, assumed greater control of the company. Lachlan became executive chairman along with his father, while James runs day-to-day operations as CEO.
One of the first issues that surfaced after the corporate shake-up was the chemistry, rumored to be less than chummy, between the younger generation of Murdochs and Ailes. Carlsons lawsuit, some analysts say, could be the opening the parent company needs to turn the page on Ailes profitable but controversial reign.
The younger guys have never been as comfortable with Ailes, says Gabriel Kahn, a former Wall Street Journal editor who is now a journalism professor at the University of Southern California. Theres a suite of corporate assets that would either potentially be reshaped or moved around.
The fact that 21st Century Fox and Ailes issued separate responses to Carlsons lawsuit was interpreted by some as a sign that the parent company is seeking to distance itself from the scandal. 21st Century Foxs statement, while expressing full confidence in Ailes and Doocy, also said it takes these matters seriously and that an internal review has started.
The wording and timing of the press release signal that Ailess standing with the Murdochs is precarious, wrote Gabriel Sherman, a New York magazine editor who wrote a critical book on Ailes, The Loudest Voice in the Room, in an article for the magazine.
Ailes statement was unequivocal. He said Carlsons allegations are false and her lawsuit is a retaliatory suit for the networks decision not to renew her contract, which was due to the fact that her disappointingly low ratings were dragging down the afternoon lineup."
Lawyers for Ailes also filed a motion to have the lawsuit arbitrated in federal court, saying her contract states any employment dispute regarding her tenure at Fox News must be done via confidential arbitration.
In a statement, Carlsons lawyers said she never agreed to arbitrate anything with (Ailes) and the contract on which he relies does not mention him and is not signed by him.
Scott Collins, TV editor at media news site TheWrap and author of Crazy Like a Fox: The Inside Story of How Fox News Beat CNN, notesthat the evident and apparent tension between the parent company and one of its most successful units is interesting and bears close watching.
That 21st Century Fox was not named as a defendant also raises questions. Collins saysCarlson may not be after money, but some sort of public vindication given her allegations.
Typically, if youre representing an employee, you want the corporation held responsible, saysJay Holland, an attorney at Joseph, Greenwald & Laake,who has tried sexual harassment cases. She may not want to burn her bridges, so to speak. But this is unusual. Its a very personal lawsuit that involves his personal behavior.
The case will ultimately hinge on the credibility of the combatants, and whether Carlson's allegations are buttressed by evidence, including documents and witnesstestimony, Holland said.
Ailes previously was accused of sexual harassment. According to Sherman's book, Ailes was negotiating a salary with Randi Harrison, a TV producer, in the 1980s when he offered her an additional $100 each week if you agree to have sex with me whenever I want.
Fox has said that the charges in Sherman's book are false.
Sherman of New York magazine also reported Saturdaythat more than a dozen women have come forward with detailed allegations of sexual harassment by Ailes over a 25-year period. Six of the women spoke to Sherman, two of them on the record.
"It has become obvious that Ms. Carlson and her lawyer are desperately attempting to litigate this in the press because they have no legal case to argue, said Barry Asen of Epstein, Becker & Green, who is representing Ailes. The latest allegations, all 30 to 50 years old, are false."
In his research for his book on Ailes, Swint sayshe didnt see anything of a sexual nature or this kind of entanglement.
Several of Ailes female colleagues have come to his defense. Jeanine Pirro, a Fox News host, told The Wrap that Ailes is a decent man.
I have spent my career fighting for women. I have no bones about criticizing someone when they deserve to be criticized. But this is ridiculous, Pirro said.
Fox News host Greta Van Susteren was also skeptical about Carlsons claims. People talk. You hear a lot, and I never heard this, she toldThe Daily Beast. Im telling you, based on my experience, Ive never seen it or heard it or suspected it.
Others have also raised eyebrows at how Carlsons lawsuits jibes with the comments about Ailes she made in her book last year. She wrote that Ailes was the most accessible boss Ive ever worked for, and that shes come to value our time together over the years.
She was still an employee there (when she wrote the book), Holland says. You dont want to anger your employer. But if the book contains statements that contradict her lawsuit, then that could create some hurdles for her.
Fox has said Carlsons contract wasnt renewed because her ratings at the 2 p.m. slot were weak. She saw the move to the new slot from Fox & Friends as a demotion and says she had competitive ratings, including a 33% spike in total viewership so far this year.
Fox News rebutted her claim. Her program was beaten by CNN in June in the important 25- to 54-year-old demographic and "had the narrowest margin of victory over CNN of any (Fox News Channel) show for the second quarter of 2016," it said.
TheWraps Collins agrees that Carlson was not doing as well as some of her competitors.
She was seeing increases, but all cable shows are seeing increases due to the election, he says. Since Gretchen left, the substitute host has done better in the time slot. That doesnt argue well for her side.
Kahn expects Fox News to remain its defiant self as the saga unfolds. A lot of their talk and their on-air talent exude this anti-politically correct, cultural warbattle cry that would make you think that the culture of the place is to take an extreme position of innocence until proven guilty on something like this, Kahn said.
When the dust settles, Fox News may or may not remain what it is. But the legal battle may open a windowinto the workplace cultureof one of the most insular, aggressive newsrooms in the country. And perhaps provide more clarity on what happened between the most powerful cable TV newsman in America and a spirited journalist who once seemed to embody the ethos of the network.
Beyond making this a blood sport, there could be a real victim here, Kahn says. That should be the first element of the story.
Follow USA TODAY media reporter Roger Yu on Twitter @ByRogerYu.
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