News & Politics

The Morning Briefing: WikiLeaks, 2020 Update, Climate Change, and Much, Much More

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Good Wednesday morning!

Have I got some doozies for you…

One more Senate seat goes Republican.

WikiLeaks sues The Guardian.

So, yesterday Britain’s liberal newspaper The Guardian reported that Paul Manafort — just before he became Trump’s campaign chairman in 2016 — had met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Manafort denied it, but WikiLeaks went much further.

The Guardian altered their story shortly after publication, weakening the language.

But WikiLeaks had the truly notable response. “Remember this day when the Guardian permitted a serial fabricator to totally destroy the paper’s reputation,” the organization tweeted. “[WikiLeaks] is willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor’s head that Manafort never met Assange.”

Betting the editor’s head is a serious matter, but WikiLeaks wasn’t done. It started asking for money to file a libel lawsuit against The Guardian.

The fund has only raised $18.5K of its $300K goal, but WikiLeaks’ denunciations were uncompromising:

These claims are completely false and the story has been fabricated. But it has gone viral, repeated uncritically by media outlets around the world.

The Embassy’s visitor logs – maintained by Ecuador – show no such visits, since they did not occur.

This is not the first time that the Guardian, and in particular its writer Luke Harding, have fabricated a story about Assange.

Manafort himself called the story “libelous.”

Things do not look good for The Guardian. The lack of embassy visitor logs, compounded with the utter denials from both sides and The Guardian‘s own softening of its language should set off alarm bells as to the story’s credibility. At this point, The Guardian needs to provide evidence — which Manafort and WikiLeaks say does not exist. WikiLeaks is putting its money — and its editor’s head, apparently — where its mouth is.

2020 update: Beto in, Cuomo out.

On Monday, the man who would have turned Texas blue — Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke — said he wasn’t ruling anything out when it comes to 2020. CNN’s Chris Cillizza argued that O’Rourke should run, because this opportunity will only come once.

He started the 2018 election as a relatively unknown member of Congress from Texas who was tilting at the political windmill that is Ted Cruz because, well, no one else would. He ended it as a national Democratic rock star. He raised more than $70(!) million for his race. Polls showed him surprisingly competitive with Cruz.

And then, yes, he lost. And no, losing Senate candidates are not usually at the front of the line to run for president.

But O’Rourke’s loss was narrow — 200,000 votes out of more than 8 million cast — and that slender defeat has done little to quell the heat he is producing among Democratic activists. The amount of energy and money O’Rourke was able to generate during the 2018 campaign has, without question, created an opportunity.

It is almost certainly in O’Rourke’s interest to actually launch a campaign. The 2020 Democratic primary is going to be chock-full of candidates, and “B-E-T-O” has a strong claim to fame. Cillizza says he would be in the top five, which is a much better prospect than Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

As of now, top contenders may include: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and maybe even Hillary Clinton (yes, she still seems open to it). Then again, it seems like everyone with a “D” after his or her name is considering a run for president.

Everyone except Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.). Yesterday, the governor flatly ruled it out. The New York Daily News‘s Kenneth Lovett:

“I am ruling it out,” Cuomo said during an appearance on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.” “I ran for governor (in November). I have a full plate. I have many projects. I’m going to be here doing the job as governor.”

During an August Democratic gubernatorial primary debate with actress Cynthia Nixon, he said he planned to serve a full four-year term if reelected to a third term unless “God strikes me dead.”

As for Bernie Sanders, he said he hasn’t made up his mind yet.


So, last week a climate change report came out. Liberal media outlets have been repeating, over and over again, that it is the Trump administration’s report — although it was assembled in part during the Obama administration and the assessment has been in the works for three years.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders attacked the report as “not based on facts,” Newsweek‘s Alexandra Hutzler reported.

“The president is certainly leading on what matters most in this process and that’s on having clean air and clean water. In fact, the United States continues to be a leader on that front,” Sanders told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. The White House press secretary was responding to a question on the president’s recent comments that he did not believe his own administration’s climate report.

“Even Obama’s undersecretary for science didn’t believe the radical conclusions of the report that was released,” she added. “You have to look at the fact that this report is based on the most extreme modeled scenario which contradicts long-established trends. Modeling the climate is an extremely complicated science that is never exact.”

Fact check: mostly true. Steven Koonin, a New York University professor who served as undersecretary of energy for science during Obama’s first term, took to The Wall Street Journal to explain why the headlines of horrible doom are gross misrepresentations of what the report actually said.

Even the report — which focused on an extremely unlikely worst-case scenario [as explained by Judith Curry here] — predicted a 4 percent decrease in the U.S. economy … in 2090. Koonin put that in perspective:

To place a 4% reduction in context, conservatively assume that real annual GDP growth will average 2% in the coming decades (it has averaged 3.2% since 1935 and is currently 3%). That would result in a U.S. economy roughly four times as large in 2090 as today. A 4% climate impact would reduce that multiple to 3.8—a correction much smaller than the uncertainty of any projection over seven decades. To put it another way, the projected reduction in the average annual growth rate is a mere 0.05 percentage point. The U.S. economy in 2090 would be no more than two years behind where it would have been absent man-caused climate change.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders was right to reference Koonin, and she was also right to cast doubt on these climate prediction models. Thirty years ago, climate alarmists predicted that the Maldives would be under water by now. News flash: they aren’t.

The truth is, it’s very difficult to predict exactly how burning fossil fuels will impact the global climate. Yet alarmists insist not only that they knowwith 100 percent certainty — exactly how it works, but that there is a consensus all the way through. That’s just not true, even if those in power are attempting to quash dissent.

Photo of the day.

The auditorium of a high school for printing is partially filled with members of the Photoengravers Union and newsmen before the delayed start of meeting to ratify contract proposals with newspaper publishers in New York, March 27, 1963. (AP Photo/John Lindsay)

On this day in 1953, six of New York City’s seven newspapers went on strike, starting 11 days without The New York Times, thanks to a photoengravers’ strike. Imagine that, eleven whole days without The New York Times.

Other morsels.

Christine Blasey Ford explains use of GoFundMe money in rare public statement

Special Report on Sea Level Rise

State Department Continues Its Cruel War On Adoption Agencies

Half of Younger Millennials Think Barack Obama Had a Bigger Impact Than George Washington

Yes, some liberal thought “The Lord of the Rings” is racist: Lord of the Rings Slammed for Perpetuating Racism through Depiction of Orcs

Debunking 3 Myths About Trump Border Enforcement

Atheist Lawsuit Would Force Churches to Ask the IRS for Permission to Exist

Flawed Media Coverage of Obama Hurts America Still

The Real-World Consequences of Submitting to the Transgender Zeitgeist

When attempts to fight racism are rebranded as racist: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Is Deemed ‘Racist’

Evolution’s silver bullet: Justin Bieber. To Bolster Belief in Evolution, Study Recommends Celebrity Endorsements

SPLC Influence Waning? Facebook, PayPal Match ‘Giving Tuesday’ Donations to ‘Hate Groups’

2018 National Climate Assessment Report is Full of Dubious and Junk Science