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The New York Times’ decision to draw a line in the sand against Donald Trump’s threat to file a libel suit may come back to haunt the news organization.

The issue involves a story about two women who allege that the presidential candidate groped or kissed them without their consent. In a letter asking for a retraction, Trump’s attorney claimed the article was libelous, reckless and defamatory. The Times’ attorney fired back: “…[I]f he believes that American citizens had no right to hear what these women had to say and that the law of this country forces us and those who would dare to criticize him to stand silent or be punished, we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight.”

The Times’ response is extraordinary in that most news organizations, when facing such a threat, issue the appropriate response: “We stand by our story.”

As an expert witness in nearly 30 defamation lawsuits, I have never seen a news organization take such a combative and public stance except in the courtroom. But The Times’ lawyer seemed pleased with the response. See http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/18/insider/i-hardly-expected-my-letter-to-donald-trump-to-go-viral.html

This immediate and rather vitriolic letter places The Times with both feet in the presidential muck that this campaign has become. No longer is the news organization standing above the fray.

In an editorial, The Times lectured Trump on constitutional law. “it should come as no surprise that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, is as ignorant about constitutional law as he is about every other matter pertinent to the nation’s highest office.”

The editorial noted Times v. Sullivan, the important case that defined the tenets for a successful libel suit against a public official, which was extended to a public figure in a later case. Trump would have to prove the Times engaged in reckless disregard of the truth.

What The Times failed to mention is another important libel case: Herbert v. Lando.

Anthony Herbert was a U.S. Army officer in Vietnam who claimed he witnessed war crimes that his commanding officer refused to investigate. In a 1973 report on 60 Minutes, correspondent Mike Wallace and producer Barry Lando argued that Herbert had lied and was himself guilty of war crimes. The Army officer filed a libel suit.

Even though CBS eventually won the suit, the U.S. Supreme Court provided plaintiffs like Herbert, and potentially Trump, the ability to investigate the “state of mind” of journalists while they are reporting a story.

“When a member of the press is alleged to have circulated damaging falsehoods and is sued for injury to the plaintiff’s reputation, there is no privilege under the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of the press barring the plaintiff from inquiring into the editorial processes of those responsible for the a publication.”

I doubt the news organization wants to have its editorial process placed under a microscope. The Times may win the battle and lose the war. To wit, I do stand by my story.


Christopher Harper, a recovering journalist with The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times, teaches media law

 

I’m not going to get a chance to see the entire debate tonight because of work but here is what things are going to come down to one thing: Will the caricatures of the two candidates be confirmed or refuted.

1. Trump: Is he crazy, is he presidential?

These two questions are what the American people want the answer to. Hillary Clinton the media and the left (but I repeat myself) has been trying to sell Donald Trump as an uncontrolled loon for the last year or so, completely unprecedented and unable to deal lead. That caricature took a huge hit thanks to his mexican trip whose live feed completely disappointed the left has the Donald not only sounded strong but competent. While this was no surprise to me as a person who is running business on an international scale has to know how to deal with foreign leaders this is totally contrary to what the MSM has said.

The goal for Donald Trump therefore is to appear presidential enough on TV to make a lie of this. I predict that he will have very little trouble doing so due to his massive TV experience.

2. Clinton: Is she corrupt, is she well?

There have been two memes with Hillary Clinton that has been out there, the first is corruption, while the email scandal has not had legs with the MSM it HAS with voters. Clinton needs to give answers that suggest there is no there there. This should actually not be a hard thing to do as she has decades of experience dissembling before reporters, however it is the viewing audience and not the press that she has to sell this too. My gut says she should be able to do this but the real question is, have her consultants prepped her for the press or the people? That will be the determining factor.

The second factor can’t be wargamed. Clinton’s health. I’m sure that Hillary has rested herself to the max and her medical and makeup team will have put out full effort to make sure that she is in the best physical shape possible or tonight.

All that being said if she starts coughing, if she starts to fall, if anything happens that says “unwell” that will be the final nail in the coffin for her. This is the overriding factor above all else. Can she manage to stand there for 90 minutes without seeming ill?

I predict she will manage to do so but the reality is we have no idea on this. It is the wild card in this debate.

The Clinton advantage MSM: The biggest advantage for Hillary Clinton is the MSM. As long as Hillary Clinton doesn’t cough up a lung, start drooling on the stage or physically collapse, the media will pronounce her well and declare her the victor in tonight’s debate. It doesn’t matter what she says or how she says it this is going to be the media narrative that the press will be selling.

The Trump Advantage the audience: It appears this is going to be one of the most watched debates in the history of history. A large amount of people who would not normally bother will politics will be drawn to it. Furthermore I suspect most of those people will not be bothering with much of the pre-debate or post-debate coverage. This means that Trump will have an excellent change to make his case directly to the people, particularly those who will not be bothering with the post-debate spin. If he doesn’t commit an obvious gaffe, and by gaffe I mean something that normal people, not the media, not the media, consider a gaffe. He will be fine.

My prediction. Barring a physical collapse by Hillary, this debate is going to be pretty much a wash by normal debate standards. However a wash in the debate is a win for Trump because the main question in the mind of people who don’t like Hillary is: Is Trump Qualified. If he passed that bar, he win…

…it should be pointed out that the MSM is going to declare Hillary the victor in this debate (again barring a physical collapse) I wouldn’t be surprised if most of those stories have already been written and just need the odd bit of space filled in. Howie Carr has nailed it:

Whatever happens on Long Island, Hillary will immediately be declared the winner by 98 percent of the press. The headlines are already written, the phony-baloney polls and focus groups are ready to roll.

Hillary has to accomplish only two feats in Hempstead. The first one is to get off a couple of canned zingers for her adoring fans in social media to run with Tuesday morning.

What’s the over/under on how many minutes it will take her to say, “I’m a grandmother”? Comrade Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell will lap it up with a spoon. Oh, she so humanized herself, blah blah blah.

Hillary’s second task may prove more daunting: She has to remain vertical for 90 long minutes, with no oxygen mask or iron lung up there on the stage.

Alas for the Clintons we live in an age where people will have already formed their opinions and shared them online long before the pundits are able to push these stories.

Update: PowerLine reports they are getting panicked fundraising requests and says

with a hundred million people set to tune in to tonight’s debate, the Democrats have even more to worry about: what if millions of those viewers don’t find Trump scary or dangerous, and they see no reason to consider him a “racist, sexist bigot”? If I were a Democrat, I’d be worried too.

I’m enjoying this much too much.


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I can’t imagine how Bernie Sanders voters feel today.

If you were a Bernie bro the home stretch of this season had promise.  Your man was still fighting even after Donald Trump had clinched and unlike Trump, Hillary had not managed to secure enough bound delegates to win the nomination meaning that the superdelegate who by the rules were completely free regardless of past pronouncements or media statements to vote for whatever nominee they wanted.

Furthermore with the FBI investigation still having over her and polls consistently  showing Bernie beating Trump, there was always the chance that the tide at the convention would turn.

There was HOPE!

And more important than hope, as long as Sanders did not concede they had leverage.

As long as the threat of a move to Bernie at the convention existed, Hillary Clinton was forced to entertain progressive choices for VP, to give lip service to your issues.  To very publically be a sister to the left.

That leverage ended the moment Sanders left the race and endorsed and the ultimate express of that loss of leverage is the pick of Tim Kaine.

Once Bernie was out the fix was in (and not just in terms of VP with no alternative Democrat as a threat suddenly Bill Clinton was meeting with Lynch, the FBI was crying “careless” but unwilling to enforce the law and suddenly Justice was uninterested.) and you progressives could be tossed under the Clinton bus, and ironically thanks to the Wikileaks disclosures you know that has been the desire from day one.

In one message dated May 5, 2016, with the subject line “No s–t,” the chief financial officer of the Democratic National Committee, Brad Marshall, plotted how to portray Sanders, who was raised Jewish in Brooklyn, as an atheist.

“It might [make] no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief,” Marshall wrote, apparently referring to Sanders and upcoming Kentucky and West Virginia primaries.

“Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage,’’ Marshall asked.

“I think I read he is an atheist.”

“This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and atheist.”

The chief executive officer at the DNC, Amy Dacey, responded with a single word: “Amen.”

Or to put it another way, Putting aside my own feelings as a Conservative Catholic or opinions on Hillary’s options, do you really believe, dear Bernie fans, that a “pro-life” senator and governor with a religious background and an affinity for the trade deals you despise, a former DNC chair, the ultimate insider, a straight white male, would be the Democrat choice for VS if they actually cared what you think?

You may have have “felt the burn” before but now you really know what it is to be burned

Well there’s always Dr. Jill Stein & the Green Party.

Exit question for Bernie fans:  Given these facts how jealous are you of the Never Trump folks.  They at least had a champion who was willing to go before the convention and at great risk to his political future not endorse.  Who will be your champion at the Democrat Convention?

Update: added DNC quote


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If you read my morning post you know that in my opinion Ted Cruz’s speech at the Republican Convention was the only honorable response for him in this situation and I applaud him for it.

However you might noticed that while I think Ted Cruz was totally justified in what he said at and after the speech as you can see by the title of this post I think Donald Trump played Ted Cruz and won, and I would even say won brilliantly.

The reason is apparent when you ask a very basic question:

What advantage does Donald Trump get with a Ted Cruz endorsement?

The answer is almost none.

Donald Trump spent the entire campaign (falsely) referring to Ted Cruz as “lying Ted”, the media, which hates Ted Cruz MUCH more than they do Trump and have been attacking him since the day he was elected, played it up a year.  He would get no love from the GOP establishment which hates Ted Cruz as much as the media does from an endorsement and the number of NeverTrump people from the GOP who would vote for Trump after a Cruz endorsement is so minimal that it’s not worth thinking of.

In fact a Ted Cruz endorsement might even HURT Trump who is still trying to win over Bernie Sanders fans who believe Ted Cruz is the devil and seriously could you imagine the gift to Hillary Clinton a Ted Cruz endorsement would be?  I can see the ad now:

Mythical Cruz Endorsement speech:  “Donald Trump is a great leader”

Cut to old Donald Trump “We call him lying Ted”

Mythical Cruz Endorsement speech “Donald trump will make America Great again”

Cut to old Donald Trump speech: “He lies lies and lies”

I’m Hillary Clinton & I approve this message

Donald Trump knows media and knows visuals, he isn’t dumb enough to let this happen.

There is also no advantage for NOT having Ted Cruz speak.  He won 11 states and made a strong case if he was denied a speaking spot or stayed away it would draw into question the “Big Tent” business and “party unity” meme that Trump was playing on.  There is no visual no media no nothing.  Nothing at all, no advantage.

Instead consider what we saw at the GOP convention last night.

Images of the delegates on the GOP floor booing Cruz in support of Trump

A contrast between Cruz’s attack and the pro-trump speech from Mike Pence (who endorsed Cruz before the Indiana primary) causing Cruz grief from all over.

A contrast between Cruz’s “attack” and people reporting Trump thought Cruz’s non-endorsement was “No Big deal

(Even as I type this Rudy Giuliani was on MSNBC calling Trump the “bigger man”.)

And reporter after reporter talking down Ted Cruz both that night and even the next day

And remember all of this is taking place with a GOP convention that is drawing millions more viewers than usual and sets up tonight as an even bigger potential TV audience.

And doesn’t even take into account all the social media radio etc this generated or the fact that it took MSM attempt to go wild Meliana “plagiarism” business off the tube.

All this was made possible because Trump is good at reading people.  He understands who Ted Cruz is and knew that despite all that “lying Ted” BS that Cruz is an honorable man and used that to his advantage.

Trump also knows media, he knows the audience and played to them manipulating the situation, the visuals and the media because he understands that the audience for any counter argument will be only a tiny percentage of this and consists mostly of political geeks like you and me dear reader.  If Mitt Romney had 1/10 of the Trump media savvy he’d be president today.  It was absolutely brilliant.

And remember each of these conflicts at the convention that the MSM thinks are so damaging helped build audience to draw people who would normally never watch this stuff and give Trump free access to make his case.

And now that Bernie has dropped out what drama is there in the Democrat convention?  What person who has not already made up their mind will be watching it?

Nobody.

Trump won the case and the night and will likely win the competing conventions even with the MSM doing all they can to knock him off and prop up Hillary.  Furthermore his actions maximize the potential vote increase from persuadable voters while keeping any damage localized to voters he had already likely lost.

You can debate Trump and his morality all day and all of the night but in my opinion this is pure LBJ class political genius.

And I submit and suggest that’s not debatable .

One final thing, the fact that Ted Cruz did the right thing and deserves praise rather than blowback he is getting is totally irrelevant to this analysis, but it all comes down to what matters most as this tweet says:


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State Sen Jim Rubens in Hollis
State Sen Jim Rubens in Hollis
While all the focus right now is on the National convention there is still local politics going on and there are plenty of divides there.

In NH former State Senator is putting up a primary challenge to Senator Kelly Ayotte. He made an appearance in Hollis NH and I managed to get there to cover some of it before I had to head for work and got the tail end of his speech

He then took questions on political promises and the clash between establishment vs grassroots

On Race Relations

On the 2nd Amendment and guns

I think that’s critical along with this question on life and planned parenthood

I’m committing to you on camera.

one from me on targeting police

On illegal immigration and sanctuary cites and had an interesting take on the effect

and then sat for an interview with me before I had to run to work

as a rule such a primary is an uphill climb and while my opinion on Senator Ayotte is not as harsh as many in the room it’s my opinion that as Scott Brown learned if you don’t have the pro-life and the pro 2nd amendment conservatives turning out in a general election you lose.

Mr. Rubens web site is here.


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In less than two weeks, when Massachusetts voters elect Martha Coakley to the US Senate — let’s not pretend that Republican state senator Scott Brown has any chance of pulling off the monumental upset — they will trigger a massive domino effect that has the state’s political class buzzing with anticipation. 

The Boston Phoenix Jan 8th 2010

The latest poll from Rasmussen has to be filling both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders fans with glee:

Donald Trump has now grown his lead over Hillary Clinton in Rasmussen Reports’ first weekly White House Watch survey.

Trump earns 42% support to Clinton’s 37% when Likely U.S. Voters are asked whom they would vote for if the presidential election were held today.

This is the 2nd straight poll showing Trump ahead of Hillary, it’s a result that nobody in the MSM would have dreamed of six months ago.

There are two ways of looking at the Hillary campaign:

The Clinton campaign & their media allies are analogous to the French army before World War 2.  Completely prepared to fight the last war but unable to cope with a foe prepared to do the unexpected.

But I think the real answer is this:  Hillary Clinton is the worst Democrat candidate for national office since Martha Coakley.

She has all the unappealing qualities of Ms. Coakley in terms of temperament and presentation, Her campaign also has the same air of entitlement that Coakley had.

That is bad enough but she also has one disadvantage that Coakley for all her ineptness did not.  The Email Scandal, Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation and more.

Hillary Clinton has become a byword dishonesty and corruption.  It’s no coincidence that the Donald’s Tag line for her is #corrupthillary

And we haven’t even gotten to Bill

As I wrote last year the press recognized (but did not publicly admit) Hillary’s Coakleyness very early:

The media are liberals first and Hillary fans 2nd.  They understand that the rise of streaming technology means their power and influence are on the wane as the low info voter’s choices increase. They dropped her for Obama like a rock once it became clear she was losing in 2008 and are terrified of a GOP victory in 2016 that combined with control of the congress could mean a fundamental shift of power.

The MSM will do all they can to prevent this from happening.

The moment they can get a viable candidate in they will throw Hillary under the bus so fast it will make your head swim.

But thanks to the intervention of President Obama there is no longer a Biden card to play so unless the Democrats are willing to take a chance with Bernie Sanders the entire nation is going to see the 2010 Martha Coakley campaign repeated on a national scale.

 

That’s going to be fun.

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Yesterday at Hotair there was a post that seemingly didn’t make a lot of sense:

There’s been something missing from the Trump campaign recently and I don’t mean displays of steaks, champagne or Yuge private jets. While he’s been on TV and radio on a daily basis, The Donald hasn’t held a single public rally in more than a week. Given his overall strategy through the entire primary this seems an odd turn of events. Zeke Miller at Time Magazine took note of this curious development in his daily brief without much in the way of an explanation.

I didn’t understand it until I watched CNN last night.

The conversation was all about the “violence” at the Democrat convention in Nevada.  You had Wolf Blitzer trying to put threats made by Sanders supports on the candidate.

It was very telling, there have been huge splits in the Democrat party and since Iowa there have been interesting things being done by the Hillary Clinton supporting establishment.

but if you are a viewer of the MSM you have not seen any of it as they have been too busy pushing the “Trump evil” “Trump violent” memes.

But with Trump not holding large rallies, suddenly the MSM doesn’t have protesters to cover and spin, suddenly the problems that have been taking place in the Democrat party since the start of the primaries are breaking through and as polls continue to show Trump competitive with Clinton (something the MSM has said was simply not possible) suddenly the arguments in favor of Bernie Sanders are looking better and better.

I think Trump is doing all he can to force the Hillary/Bernie divide out into the sunlight.

That’s smart, very smart.

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If you are spending any time on twitter you will find that the vitriol between conservatives/republicans on the “Never Trump” side and supports of the victorious Donald has if possible gotten worse with an almost religious fervor.

In one sense I understand the problem, it comes down to this:

Strong fiscal/social conservatives like myself had literally our dream conservative in Ted Cruz. Young, God fearing, intelligent, a person who had fought for us. He would also have also been the first Hispanic American to lead a national ticket putting our liberal friends on the defensive. He got to the very brink of the nomination outlasting more than a dozen other strong accomplished competitors…

…and yet in the end the votes choose a reality show star with very um…flexible positions and beliefs who is actually OLDER than Hillary Clinton who was complementing both her and Obama as late as 2008.

Meanwhile on the other side you have people, perhaps not as ideological as myself, who saw the GOP nominate equivocating losers over and over again while watching the gop submit again and again to Obama in congress. Then they see a man come up, challenge both the GOP & the MSM very publicly on both Radical Islam and Illegal Immigration, not back down despite constant attacks, go forward and rally GOP votes with a promise that he will make America Great again. They back them man, watch him win state after state in a crowded field…

…and then when he finally reaches the point when the nomination is his thanks to overwhelming support of the votes, they see a large amount of both the GOP establishment and conservatives that they supported in the past, decide they would rather see Hillary in the White House than support the man they voted for.

Let me remind everyone of a few things.

1. Christianity is a religion, CONSERVATISM IS NOT:

If you start worshiping Conservatism or consider Christianity as good because it helps lead to conservatism, you’re worshipping a different God than me. Let our secular liberal friends treat their politics as a religion I’m not doing it.

2. Elections are all about marketing:

The voter is the customer base and the candidate is the product, if your favored candidate failed to sell themself to the voters. Rather than blaming the voters who preferred someone else you had better start getting to work to either
A: Find a candidate you support who can OR
B: Help your previous candidate improve their pitch for the next time around.

3. Voting is a proactive action:

In order to win an election you have to get people to proactively go out and vote for you. This means that you need to convince them to turn out rather than stay home. If you treat the voter as someone who owes you support rather than a customer you have to make the sale to, you will lose and deserve to do so.

3a. You don’t win voters over with threats or smug declarations:

If you want your candidate to win an election, particularly after a bruising primary, you need to give those voters who had gone elsewhere a reason to vote for you. You need to assure them that you have their best interests at heart. As a general rule this can not be accomplished by threats and Insults.

Both sides need to decide what their goals are and act accordingly:

Doctrine conservatives had better remember that this is not going to be the last election or political fight in America and this election cycle has unfortunately proven we are not even the majority of GOP primary voters. So if your goal is to advance our agenda and beliefs for the good of America on everything from religious freedom, to guns to Obamacare to radical Islam we are going to need allies. I suspect none of those allies are going to be found in the ranks of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders voters.

Donald Trump supporters while legitimately celebrating their victory had better remember that while the top 4 GOP candidates who managed to win states have outpolled the Democrats (25 Million to 21.7 Million) as of right now Donald Trump has received 1.8 Million LESS votes than Hillary Clinton  (10.6 Million to 12.4 Million). So while it might be fun to tweak a Paul Ryan, a Mitt Romney or a Lindsey Graham, if your goal is to elect Donald Trump president, you are going to need most of those Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich voters to turn up and vote for your man.

Everyone needs to take a deep breath and do it soon.

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On Tuesday Jake Tapper showed once again that is one of the few actual journalists in journalism.

One of the most frustrating things about the contest between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump for the GOP nomination was the MSM’s almost compete willingness give a pass to accusations by Mr. Trump concerning Senator Cruz that had no basis in fact and instead note how effective they were. That’s what made Tapper’s statement so extraordinary, it was the exception rather than the rule for the media.

But that was during the days when Donald Trump was hitting Ted Cruz now that his primary target is Hillary Clinton we now have headlines like this:

Trump Blames Hillary for Birtherism, Wolf Blitzer Summarily Fact-Checks Him

And stories like this:

Original birther Donald Trump today tried to push birtherism on Hillary Clinton, but Wolf Blitzer didn’t go to commercial break without fact-checking that little claim.

That is a bit ironic because while it was completely necessary to take liberties with the facts for Mr. Trump to hit Ted Cruz all that will not be necessary for Trump to attack Hillary Clinton is to tell the truth as in this case since the reality of course is that Hillary campaign of 2008 were the first people who brought up the question of Barack Obama’s birthplace

But that is not relevant to the media. From this point on the media will question Mr. Trump with ruthless abandon and anything Donald Trump says about Hillary Clinton will be presumed false by them until proven otherwise, and perhaps not even then.

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Brett Maverick: Now he did everything a man shouldn’t do, but he’s still alive, looks like he’ll be elected sheriff and I know he’ll end up with the biggest ranch in the territory. I’m broke. Nobody even knows I’m leaving or cares. Could I be wrong?

Maverick: The Saga of Waco Williams 1959

One of the things that leaped out at me after the Indiana Primary results was the sudden pivot of the MSM.

Before the Indiana Primary the media was covering both the GOP race between Donald Trump , Ted Cruz and apparent Trump surrogate John Kasich  and to a lesser degree the Democrat Race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

After the Primary when Senator Cruz was decisively defeated by Mr. Trump & Both Senator Cruz and Trump surrogate John Kasich pulled out of the race the MSM quite rightly stopped covering the GOP primary race as there was no longer a race to be covered.

However the MSM also suddenly decided to stop covering the Democrat race even after Bernie Sanders scored an upset win over Hillary Clinton in a state she previously won in 2008.

This is a cause of consternation among supporters of Bernie Sanders

And without a question there is one person that you need to blame for this situation with the MSM

That person is of course Senator Ted Cruz

You see Donald Trump still can’t mathematically clinch before the primaries on June 7th so as long as Ted Cruz kept his campaign active there was, in theory still a chance that Mr. Trump could fail to get the required delegates before the GOP convention. That would have given the media a reason to cover the GOP nomination race.

And because they were covering the GOP race they had to cover the active Democrat race where Bernie Sanders continues to give Hillary Clinton a run for her money putting their desire to support Hillary Clinton as their (and by “their” I mean the Democrats with bylines that compose the media) nominee.

However Ted Cruz’s withdrawal completely changes the dynamic.

Now there is no longer a GOP race the ratings machine that pays the bills, namely Donald Trump, is now completely focused on attacking Hillary Clinton.

This give the media a ratings and a financial incentive to do what they would like to do anyway, completely ignore Bernie Sanders despite his impressive win in Indiana and excellent prospects in upcoming states and crown Clinton because doing so involves covering Trump.

In fact the only hope of Bernie getting any coverage is if Trump keeps tweeting stuff like this:

Because even if Bernie sweeps the rest of the remaining states, the only substantial coverage he is going to get is if Donald trump brings him up.

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