Why Democrats Are Terrified of 'Woke Kanye'

Turns out, when you’re a famous musician with 28 million Twitter followers people are going to sit up and pay attention to what you tweet, regardless of the topic.

So when rapper Kanye West, a man who got over 41,000 likes for tweeting the word “decentralize,” lit the social media world on fire last week with a series of tweets seeming to support President Trump, the world was quick to take notice. Is one of the most successful recording artists of our generation actually ‘waking up’ to the folly of liberalism? Has Kanye actually been red-pilled?

On the one hand, conservatives understandably but a little hypocritically took an altogether different approach with Kanye than the “shut up and sing” imploration they typically would take were such a celebrity spouting off the usual liberal nonsense.

As for liberals - along with the usual hysterics, name-calling, and denigrations of “mentally ill” that are generally doled out as a matter of course to those who even partially leave the Democratic thought plantation were implorations to, well, essentially “shut up and sing.” 

Thursday exchange between Fox News co-hosts Juan Williams and Kimberly Guilfoyle on The Five illustrates the divide.

“[Kanye’s] done nothing,” the liberal-leaning Williams said. “When it comes to substance, this guy has nothing. This is the guy in fact who said Cosby was innocent. This is the guy who condemned George W. Bush. You guys are suddenly flocking to him because it’s convenient but why you would take him seriously I have no idea.”

“That’s your opinion, but he’s actually a serious businessman,” Guilfoyle shot back. “He’s hugely successful … and he’s entitled to have his opinion like anybody is. You’re trying to diminish him because he’s a singer, a rapper.”

Of course they’re both right, to a degree. Kanye may be an enormously talented artist and a successful businessman in his own right, but that doesn’t make him a political expert, nor does he pretend to be. “I'm not even political,” Kanye tweeted. “I'm not a democrat or a republican.”

And yet, by tweeting a picture of himself wearing a red MAGA hat, perhaps the most iconic and enduring symbol of the miraculous 2016 presidential campaign (and thus of glorious liberal butthurt), Kanye seared an image into the public consciousness that’s unlikely to go away anytime soon.

In truth, whether he’s is an unstable, “mentally ill” celebrity, a budding Heritage Foundation policy expert, or somewhere in between, one would make a huge mistake to underestimate the astounding significance of West’s actions. Because even by acknowledging President Trump, someone who is literally the devil incarnate to liberals, as a “brother,” by advocating free thought, and especially by wearing that glorious red hat, West just opened the door to the exact kind of thought that has the potential to change lives by the millions - conservatism.

Even if he’s not a conservative himself.

Sure, maybe Kanye will get there eventually (listening to Candace Owens is a great start!), but he’s not there yet - not by a long shot. You may have missed it, but West also tweeted that he loves “Hillary too,” insisted at the behest of his wife that he doesn’t “agree with everything Trump does” (obviously, one doesn’t have to agree with Trump on all issues to be a conservative, but the point is that West was catering to the ‘haters’ a little with that tweet), and even tweeted a picture of Parkland gun control activist Emma Gonzalez under the words “my hero.”

In other words, even ‘woke Kanye’ has a long way to go before he’s the next Thomas Sowell.

Still, the image of someone like Kanye West wearing that iconic red hat encouraged conservatives just as much as it triggered liberals. At least it encouraged me. ‘Woke Kanye’ is way cooler than Taylor Swift and George Bush-bashing ‘SJW Kanye,’ by a yuge margin. Could this be the long-hoped-for crack in the armor of the black Democratic voting bloc? Could Kanye West, simply by his acknowledgment if not his endorsement of “our” side, pave the way for conservatives to finally get past the noise and reach black people with a message that’s sure to help them far more than liberalism ever has?

Pro-Trump singer Joy Villa seems to think so. “West has shattered the stereotype and myth that ‘all Republicans are racist,’” Villa writes in a Fox News op-ed. “He has challenged the music industry’s identity politics. He’s a hero to free-minded individuals of all colors.”

Liberal outlet The Atlantic is certainly concerned. “Now, were [Kanye’s] tweets to go ignored in the press they, indeed, would hold less power,” writesSpencer Kornhaber. “But they do hold power, already … ‘I love the way Candace Owens thinks,’ has likely already sent a lot of his followers, many young and impressionable, to the conservative pundit’s YouTube channel where she rails against the ‘losers’ in Black Lives Matter. It’s not unreasonable to think that his tweet may well have a measurable effect on this country’s politics.”

For a group that hasn’t voted GOP by any margin over 15 percent since Jackie Robinson campaigned for Richard Nixon in 1960, any “measurable effect” at all could be disastrous to a party all out of ideas yet hellbent on keeping all hands inside that ‘Democratic plantation.’ 



More women sign up to defend Brokaw and tension in NBC grows

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More than 100 women have signed a letter defending former "NBC Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw following a sexual harassment allegation by a former colleague.

Among the names defending Brokaw are some high-profile personalities, including MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Mika Brzezinski, White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, and NBC special anchor Maria Shriver.

"As professional women, we fully endorse the conversation around abuse of power in the workplace. In the context of that conversation, we would like to share our perspectives on working with Tom Brokaw," the letter reads.

"Tom has treated each of us with fairness and respect. He has given each of us opportunities for advancement and championed our successes throughout our careers. As we have advanced across industries — news, publishing, law, business and government — Tom has been a valued source of counsel and support. We know him to be a man of tremendous decency and integrity," the letter says.

Linda Vester's allegations about Brokaw's behavior were first reported Thursday by Variety and The Washington Post.

Several dozen women signed on to the letter the next day. The total number of signees has doubled since then. "People keep emailing, asking to add their names," said Liz Bowyer, one of the signees.

The current total is 115 names, including producers, anchors, directors, executives and others in the media business.

Brokaw is a towering figure at NBC and a role model for many in the television news industry. Many women and men at NBC credit him with advancing their careers, and that's why some people wanted to write the letter.

But there is considerable tension behind the scenes at NBC about the letter and the broader effort to defend Brokaw.

Sources described debates between friends and within peer groups about whether to sign on and what message the letter was intended to send.

As one of the sources put it: "What does it mean if your name is not on the letter?"

Vester's attorney, Ari Wilkenfeld, had no new comment on Saturday.

On Friday he said Vester spoke out because she feels "NBC needs to prioritize actually listening to and protecting their employees who have been victimized."

Vester was a young reporter at NBC in the early 1990s when, she says, Brokaw "groped and assaulted" her.

Brokaw angrily denied the claims in a letter to colleagues on Friday. The letter was subsequently published by news outlets.

He called Vester a "character assassin" with a "grudge against NBC News.

"She has unleashed a torrent of unsubstantiated criticism and attacks on me more than twenty years after I opened the door for her and a new job at Fox News," Brokaw's wrote.

He added that he played a key role in introducing Vester to former Fox News boss Roger Ailes, who later hired her.

Ailes, who died in 2017, left the network amid sexual harassment allegations.

NBC News had no comment on Saturday about the supportive letter.

Vester left the TV news business in 2006. She told The Washington Post Thursday that she chose to speak out now "because NBC has failed to hire outside counsel to investigate a genuine, long-standing problem of sexual misconduct in the news division."

The network promised to conduct an internal review of its workplace culture after "Today'" host Matt Lauer was fired last year. He faced claims of "inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace."

NBC News chair Andy Lack said in a memo on Friday that the "review is nearing its conclusion."



Trump’s Ever-Mounting Scrap Heap

“Everything he touches,” Fred Trump once said of his son, “turns to gold.”

That was in 1973. Things are … a little different now.

Ronny Jackson is only the latest to join the ever-growing scrap heap of the Trump administration—people who volunteered or were summoned to serve, only to find themselves discarded and disgraced. The Trump-adjacent damage ranges from blaring-siren legal woes (Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, and poor-man’s-Roy-Cohn, fixer-attorney Michael Cohen) to reputational taint (Sean Spicer, Reince Preibus, Anthony Scaramucci, Steve Bannon, global-CEO-turned-spurned-Secretary-of-State Rex Tillerson) to unexpected political collapses (Luther Strange, Roy Moore, Rick Saccone) in which the president’s support proved to be less Midas touch and more kiss of death. Rear Adm. Jackson was the mostly anonymous White House physician. Now, largely as a result of Trump’s decision to put him forth to be to be Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs, he’s better known, fairly or not, as an ill-tempered, drunk-driving drug-dispensing “candy man.”

There’s always been a Trump World scrap heap—in particular in the moments in his life of maximum stress and duress—but it’s never been like the past 15 months.

“It’s something new,” Louise Sunshine, a former Trump Organization executive who’s known Trump for more than 40 years, told me.

“It’s a whole different world than he’s used to. What he did as a CEO, if he hired somebody, who’d question it? That’s not true on the world stage. He just wasn’t ready for it,” longtime New York lawyer and lobbyist Sid Davidoff said in an interview. “He was a CEO of a privately held corporation that did what he wanted to do. … It’s no news that he wasn’t prepared for what was ahead of him. And obviously the learning curve isn’t as sharp as it should be.”

And others, far more than Trump, are paying the price. That much, at least, is not new.

Three and a half decades ago, he bought the New Jersey Generals of the upstart United States Football League. Riding high thanks to the new Trump Tower, Trump was dead-set on being a George Steinbrenner-like professional sports team owner. “Creating illusions, to an extent, is what has to be done,” he told a reporter. Instead, it took him fewer than three years to effectively extinguish the USFL. One of his fellow owners, John Bassett of the Tampa Bay Bandits, threatened to punch Trump “right in the mouth” in a letter he wrote to Trump in 1986. “You are not only damaging yourself with your associates,” he said, “but alienating them as well.” Michael Tollin, the film director and producer, made a documentary for ESPN about the USFL. He called it Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL. The answer to the question in the title was Trump. “He killed the USFL,” said Tollin.

Four years after the Trump-led death of the football league, in early 1990, when his marriage was exploding and his finances were cratering, Trump let go or forced out most of his small cadre of key aides on Trump Tower’s 26th floor—public-relations wizard Howard Rubenstein, government-relations point man Tony Gliedman, shrewd attorneys like Gerald Schrager and Harvey Freeman.

At the same time, down in Atlantic City, in the wake of the snafu-riddled opening of the debt-heavy Trump Taj Mahal casino, he raged through another round of firings and demotions, calling his top managers there “scum,” “jerkoffs,” and “incompetent shit,” according to former Trump casino executive Jack O’Donnell’s 1992 book, Trumped! “I want people in here who are going to kick some ass,” he fumed in one meeting. “I want pricks. What I need are more nasty pricks in this company. Warriors.” He went on CNN and degraded one of the fired executives as “a Type C personality”—in retrospect a bit of an antecedent to the dig of “low-energy” Jeb Bush. “Type C is low key, you know, people that fall asleep,” Trump told Larry King.

“The truth is now I'm running my business the way I once used to, which is basically doing it all myself," he told Newsday in 1991.

“A loner,” said a longtime adviser.

On Thursday, former Trump Shuttle president Bruce Nobles recalled Freeman, one of Trump’s most important attorneys. “I never went to a meeting that Harvey wasn’t in,” Nobles told me. “And he was sort of his sounding board. And when Donald got into his real financial trouble, he fired everybody—including Harvey.”

“He certainly doesn’t ever seem to be loyal to anybody except himself,” Trump biographer Gwenda Blair added.

Then and since, Trump has left in his wake small-business wreckage, people who were harmed in measurable ways by their interactions with Trump. Ditto for casino bondholders—they lost money on Trump. Creditors at the collection of banks to which he owed money lost money on Trump. Trump is the one who made money on Trump—literally on the remarkably durable strength of his name. Bankers didn’t force him to personal bankruptcy because he was worth more to them alive than he was to them dead. “Every dollar of value that Donald has created since 1990,” one of those bankers told American Banker in 1994, “has been created for us. He will work for the banks forever.”


By 2015, of course, he was running for president. The scrap heap started fly-trapping new victims, and at an increasingly rapid pace. Former political aide Sam Nunberg was up first—fired, re-hired, fired again. “I haven’t spoken to him in a very long time—I don’t think he cares that much,” Nunberg told me in January before his televised multi-channel meltdown last month. Nunberg says “the wall” was his idea. “And I lost business working for him!”

There are of course exceptions. Plenty of people have benefited from his business-oriented lessons or just the reflected glow of his celebrity. Sunshine, for instance, split with Trump in the mid-80s and became a wealthy woman in her own right. Former Trump Organization employee Billy Procida took his experiences with Trump in the ‘90s to start something for himself. “He gave me an opportunity as a 26-year-old to take on a very significant role,” Procida told me in 2016, and “after working for him for that year, my career catapulted.” More than a decade later, some of the more spot-lighted “Apprentice” candidates turned their 15 minutes into more—Troy McClain, Kwame Jackson, Omarosa. Mark Burnett used Trump to turbocharge his reality-TV cred just as much as Trump used Burnett to shake off the last of his ‘90s doldrums and engineer an amped-up star turn that looks now like the start of a runway to his presidential candidacy.

And the antithesis of the scrap heap? The longtime loyalists. Secretaries Norma Foederer and Rhona Graff. Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg. Body-guard-cum-chief-operating-officer Matt Calamari (“Would you kill for me, Matty?”). “The people who were with Trump were with him for 15 and 20 years,” Sunshine said.

What’s different now is this: He always had publicity. He seldom had scrutiny.

“He’s now under a microscope. Instead of giving the story, he is the story,” said Davidoff, the longtime New York lawyer and lobbyist. “It’s a world that he doesn’t accept. He’s fighting that world.”

And other people again are paying the price. It remains to be seen, of course, whether or not Trump himself will, too.

“I think it’s this way now because Donald is not a politician,” Sunshine told me. “He doesn’t play the political games. He’s very outspoken, very forthright, and he doesn’t play the way they play in Washington.”

I asked her if she thinks he eventually will adjust.

“No—I think everybody will adjust to him,” Sunshine said. “The people who adjust to him are the people who survive.”


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