Monday's HOT MIC

Introducing HOT MIC, PJ Media's new daily liveblog. Join our editors and contributors for news updates and conversation throughout the day, and add your thoughts to the mix in our comments section. Scroll down or click here for Liz Sheld's morning update.

We're introducing some new features today on HOT MIC. First, due to popular request, we've created a permanent URL that will take you directly to our daily liveblog. Be sure to bookmark this link so you can easily find us every day.

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Good Monday Morning!

Here's what President Trump is up to today:

  • 9:45 a.m. East Egg Roll Breakfast
  • 10:30 a.m. Official Easter Egg Roll
  • 1:30 p.m. Meeting with Secretary of State Tillerson

Easter candy hangover

Is Easter candy a little too "Easter" for you? Cadbury has got your back (and the Church of England isn't happy about it).

In the United Kingdom, the Cadbury candy company, the world-famous maker of “Cadbury Chocolate Easter Eggs,” and Nestle have reportedly removed “Easter” from the packaging used to house many of its Easter-themed candy. Products once called “Easter eggs” are now labeled “chocolate eggs.”

Cadbury denies trying to remove "Easter" from its candy. A company spokesperson said:

“There is NO policy or any effort to remove or phase out the word Easter from our marketing or packaging and to suggest otherwise is wholly untrue.”

“Our packaging includes the word Easter on pack and, importantly, for many of our Easter eggs it is even engraved on the egg itself,” the spokesperson added.

Easter candy consumers aren't buying it because it's not just the candy getting de-Eastered.

Cadbury also removed “Easter” from the advertising of its annual “Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt,” a popular event in England. According to a report by CBN News, the name was changed to “Cadbury’s Great British Egg Hunt.” The event is organized by the National Trust, England’s largest membership organization tasked with preserving and protecting “historic places and spaces—for ever, [sic] for everyone.”


Other companies have taken similar action. The Liberty Counsel, a non-profit based in Florida, told CBN news that many companies have removed "Easter" from their Easter candy.

I don't know what the point of this is. Is there market research to suggest that people would buy more Easter candy if it wasn't labeled "Easter"?

Flag under fire

The American flag is taking fire on multiple fronts.

First we have some California college students who wanted to make the flag's presence at their student government meetings "optional."  The student organization at the University of California, Davis voted to change its bylaws to read “It should be at the discretion of the Senate whether presenting the flag is presently necessary,” the bill explains. “Considering that the flag is seldom present at Senate meetings, it should not be mandated by the Bylaws as a codified practice.”

Previously, presenting the flag was mandatory.

“We don’t have to have this show and demonstration of patriotism everywhere in our society,” one student senate member, Itmar Waksman, told KOVR.

Another student told KOVR, “The flag to a lot of people represents capitalism, colonialism and the genocide of indigenous people, and this is why we don’t want the flag in meetings.”

To "a lot of people"?

Do you notice how the certain cultural symbols "don't have to be demonstrated everywhere" but other symbols, those deemed worthy by the cultural elite, are always shoved in everyone's faces all the time? Curious.

Second, NBC baseball writer Craig Calcaterra was annoyed that the "political symbol" of the flag is present at sporting events.

Is the flag a political symbol? I don't see it as a political symbol. What do you think? Calcaterra took plenty of heat for his remarks on Twitter.

A quick entertainment round-up:

The new season of Doctor Who began last Saturday night. This will be Capaldi's last season as the Doctor.  The episode was titled "The Pilot" and there was a Dalek cameo, which is always nice.  The Doctor has a new companion, played by Pearl Mackie, who is getting some buzz because her character is gay. The Daily Mail said the introduction of the gay companion was "embarrassingly overdue."

But the advent of The Doctor’s first gay companion was hardly a seismic, subversive, social statement – not so much a radical breakthrough as embarrassingly overdue. (It had taken a gay woman to get the esteemed position FORTY years longer than it had a metal dog to be given it.)


But in some exciting Doctor Who news, "sonic screwdriver" has been added to the Oxford Dictionary. The announcement coincided with the new season premiere.

"Although the revised, third-edition text of the OED entry for sonic adj. won't be published until June, we can travel forward in time to take a sneak peek at this Whovian entry," a blog post on the dictionary's website revealed Saturday.

Other Doctor Who words in the OED include TARDIS, Dalek, and Cybermen but not "timey-wimey." Maybe next year.

The new season of Veep premiered on Sunday night, if you like that show. My friends always ask me if politics and Washington, D.C., business is like House of Cards. I always tell them things are much closer to Veep.

Finally, the third and final season of The Leftovers started on Sunday night. This is one of the best shows that has ever been on TV. If you don't watch it, give it a shot, but start at the beginning.  The show is based on the book of the same name and the premise is that 2% of the earth's population instantly vanished one day (the "sudden departure"); the show is about how humanity copes with that event. The writers made clear from the beginning that the audience will never find out why the sudden departure happened; it's not a mystery series.  The second season is better than the first and possibly the best writing, music editing, and acting ever to be on television. Take a chance and watch.

Here's the trailer for season 1:

Season 2:

Season 3:

And that's my post-Easter, slow news weekend update. Cash me ousside, how 'bout dat?

All together now: a criminal organization masquerading as a political party:

While on home detention in 2015 for looting his campaign fund, former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. told prosecutors of other possible crimes “by him and others” and offered to secretly record conversations as part of a federal investigation, according to a Justice Department letter obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Mr. Jackson has informed the government of potential violations of law by him and others,” reads the Aug. 16, 2015, letter from Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel C. Richenthal in Manhattan to Jackson attorney John Colette.

Jackson “has indicated that he desires to undertake certain actions, including participating in monitored and/or recorded telephone and/or email conversations and meetings, with the intention of providing the government with additional information regarding these potential violations of law,” the letter also states.

It wasn’t immediately known what the other investigation entailed, what possible crimes Jackson might have told prosecutors about or whether the cooperation deal was formally entered into. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment.

JJ, Jr., snitch. I wonder what information into political/criminal behavior in Chicago he might have...

Is Obama back from Tahiti yet?

This is (as my kids would say) *STEAST.

* The combination of "stud" and "beast," meaning awesome, bada$$, good, masculine, or basically any other positive comment.

My oldest son and his friends invented the word when they were in high school. I don't think it's ever been used outside his circle of friends. It is meant to be a supreme compliment.

Michael, before we get too excited about the demise of the MSM, let's keep in mind that they still dominate the market. While CBS Evening News had 6,249,000 viewers with 1,366,000 in the key demo in December, here are some numbers from the cable news shows from last week (in millions) via Adweek:

(Note that MSNBC is beating CNN in nearly every time slot now.)

Matthew Sheffield wrote an excellent piece at Praxis last year parsing out the numbers and warning of the dangers of overestimating the influence of what he calls the "conservative echo chamber." The bottom line is that most Americans still get their news from MSM outlets, and despite the great strides we've made in recent years, we've still got a massive hole to dig ourselves out of. This chart (from August of last year) gives you an idea where we stand in terms of the media landscape:

via Matthew Sheffield at Praxis

Least Surprising Good News of the Day:

President Donald Trump is very unpopular, but an even smaller percentage of Americans approves of the job House Speaker Paul D. Ryan is doing, a new poll shows. The Pew Research Center survey released Monday shows that just 29 percent of Americans approve of Ryan’s performance. In contrast, 39 percent approve of Trump, whose approval ratings rank among the lowest of recent presidents at this point in their terms.

Even among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, only 51 percent approve of the job Ryan is doing, with 75 percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents disapproving. Democrats have not been able to capitalize on those low approval numbers for Ryan and Trump, the poll found.

Trump's approval numbers in the most recent Rasmussen poll, by the way, hit 50-50 today.

Sigh. Pop life.

Warrants Detail Pills Found All Over Paisley Park.

What's this strange relationship?

An autopsy determined he died of a Fentanyl overdose, but the documents do not indicate if authorities have pinpointed the source of the killer dose of the synthetic opioid. No one has been charged with a crime in connection with Prince's death.

The warrants say that controlled substances were found in bottles all over the Paisley Park complex, often in vitamin bottles. Some were in a suitcase labeled with a Prince alias, Peter Bravestrong.

Several medications were prescribed to Prince under the name of Kirk Johnson, his longtime bodyguard, assistant and personal friend. The doctor who prescribed them said he used Johnson's name "for Prince's privacy," one warrant says.

Perhaps the most toxic element in our celebrity culture is that after stars reach the pinnacle of fame and fortune, they usually reach a place where nobody is willing and able to tell them "no" and make it stick.

The result is usually a rapid diminishment in the quality of their work, drug addiction, early death, or all three.

For those of you who can't stand the constant sneering from the MSM (and the #neverTrumpumpkins), this item about Scott Pelley, whoever he is, of CBS News will warm your heart.

The sad sack CBS Evening News has long trailed its network competitors in ratings, but following Donald Trump’s election things have gotten markedly worse — and anchor Scott Pelley is as bizarrely emboldened as ever. Since last November, the Evening News managing editor and chief 60 Minutes correspondent has shrugged off any hint of objectivity in his cheap shots and barbs at the president.  Maybe Pelley has seen too many episodes of The Newsroom, but he seems to think his nightly news program is an opportunity to lecture the country on why the president is terrible and why Pelley is such an insightful genius.

Unfortunately for CBS, it doesn’t seem like the country enjoys Pelley’s nightly lectures.  A look at Evening News ratings from December to April show a massive slide in viewership. During the week of December 5, CBS was (as usual) dead last among the three broadcast evening news programs, at 7,621,000 viewers with 1,702,000 in the key demo.  By comparison, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt had a total 9,182,000 viewers.

Fast forward to April, however, and you’ll see a precipitous decline among all networks, notably with Pelley’s show getting hit the hardest.  For the week of April 3, Pelley raked in a mere 6,249,000 viewers with a pathetic 1,366,000 in the key demo — almost 1.7 million fewer viewers than leader ABC’s World News Tonight. Of course, anyone paying attention to Pelley’s show shouldn’t be surprised by the ratings plunge. CBS depends on heartland viewers far more than NBC and ABC … and Pelley seems to disdain the heartland’s values and voters.

To be fair, it's not just Pelley, whoever he is, who scorns Real America -- it's almost the entire, Ivy League-educated Manhattan and DC-dwelling swamp things of the MSM, who will die loathing the country that made their cushy living possible.

Today, America Rising PAC announced an initiative to make Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren's "life difficult."

With U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) embarking on a book tour as the soft launch of her 2020 presidential run, America Rising PAC is announcing, “The Elizabeth Warren Initiative” (EWI).

EWI will have two very clear goals:

1. Make Warren’s life difficult during her 2018 Senate re-election contest;

2. Continue developing the long-term research and communications angles to damage her 2020 prospects.

Warren likely has her eyes on the prize, and shows no fear of going wo-mano-a-mano with President Donald Trump.

Read more about the launch here.

Regarding Turkey, all the reports cited by Steve come from the same source - Reuters - which in turn come from sources inside Ergodan's regime. So exactly what transpired we do not know.

In any case, all eyes - and I'm sure administration attention - are on North Korea now.  Erdogan, despicable as he is, can wait a day or two.  As far as we know anyway, he doesn't have any nukes.


The anatomy of an anonymouse, or four:

A review of the surveillance material flagged by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes shows no inappropriate action by Susan Rice or any other Obama administration official, Republican and Democratic Congressional aides who have been briefed on the matter told NBC News.

President Donald Trump told the New York Times he believed former National Security Adviser Rice broke the law by asking for the identities of Trump aides who were mentioned in transcripts of U.S. surveillance of foreign targets. Normally, the identities of Americans are blacked out in transcripts circulated by the National Security Agency, but they may be "unmasked," if their identities are relevant to understanding the intelligence.

Members of the House and Senate intelligence committees from both parties have traveled to NSA headquarters to review the relevant intelligence reports. "I saw no evidence of any wrongdoing," said one U.S. official who reviewed the documents, who would not agree to be identified further. "It was all completely normal."

His assessment was shared by a senior Republican aide who had been briefed on the matter but declined to speak on the record. The finding by lawmakers of both parties was first reported by CNN.

Time was when real reporters were allowed to cite "anonymice" -- that is to say, axe-grinding cowards or wholly fabricated individuals -- except in exigent circumstances and then only with extreme reluctance. Not any more. And the media wonders why nobody except their coevals on Twitter believes them.