Midterms, what midterms? The big election is in the rear-view mirror. Talk of the blue wave or the red wave has faded. Chatter about President Trump’s encounter with CNN reporter Jim Acosta at a White House press conference has dulled to a din. All have been swept off the popular press radar with the long-awaited exit of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday, replaced for now by Matthew G. Whitaker, his chief of staff.
Tempting implications beckon.
For better or worse, the press has gone into instant interpretation mode. Mr. Sessions either resigned or was fired, ousted or forced out, depending on the news organization. Coverage immediately focused on the potential impact on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion.
“Sessions has resigned, ending a tortured relationship with President Trump and opening what could be historic fight over the sprawling criminal investigation that has clouded Trump’s White House tenure,” noted The Los Angeles Times.
The Mueller investigation is now “imperiled,” said The Daily Beast.
“Sessions was pushed out as the country’s chief law enforcement officer after enduring more than a year of blistering and personal attacks from President Trump over his recusal from the Russia investigation,” said The Associated Press.
Democrats echoed the opinion with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, who called Mr. Whitaker a “Trump acolyte,” and the circumstances a “gross abuse of power and extremely dangerous to the rule of law,” which did not “pass the smell test.”
Mr. Trump, however, already has moved on, swiftly adjusting his trajectory as he sees fit, no matter how much noise comes news coverage or political rivals.
“We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well! A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date,” the president tweeted late Wednesday.
‘NONE OF THE ABOVE’
Well, so much for 2020 standouts. An early bird survey of Democratic and independent voters asked them to choose their preferred presidential candidate among former Vice President Joseph R. Biden; Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernard Sanders of Vermont, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala D. Harris of California; former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The poll found that 30 percent of the voters said “none of the above.”
A quarter favored Mr. Biden, 18 percent gave the nod to Mr. Sanders and 12 percent to Mrs. Clinton. Ms. Harris, Ms. Warren and Mr. Bloomberg each garnered 4 percent of support. The HillTV/American Barometer survey of 1,000 registered Democratic and independent voters was conducted Nov. 3-4.
THE PRESIDENT: MAN OR SUPERMAN?
The presidency, some say, is evolving from a leadership role into something much larger in scope. On Thursday, the Cato Institute will host an event titled “The Rise of the Superhero President,” which parses this phenomenon.
“Healer in chief, national redeemer, father figure, leader of the Free World — the modern president is required to be all those things and more. It’s a radical — and dangerous — departure from the Founding Fathers’ vision of a chief magistrate with limited powers, charged with faithfully executing the laws. The demands we’ve placed on the office have transformed it into a constitutional monstrosity with powers too vast to entrust to any single, fallible human being,” the organization notes.
The event will debut a documentary film addressing this, plus a discussion hosted by Cato Vice President Gene Healy and film director Rob Montez. Things get underway at 6 p.m. EST, streamed online at Cato.org/live.
THE PRO-LIFE VICTORY
“The midterm elections revealed a clear victory for the pro-life movement. The Senate once again has a pro-life majority — a ringing affirmation of President Trump’s pro-life agenda from the American people, who have seen him deliver on a key promise by appointing two outstanding Supreme Court justices,” says Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.
“In competitive battleground states, pro-lifers who don’t typically vote in midterm elections delivered victory for pro-life Senate candidates. Senators-electKevin Cramer, Marsha Blackburn,Josh Hawley, Rick Scott,Mike Braun, among others, went on offense for life throughout the campaign,” Mrs. Dannenfelser continues.
“In 2010, there was not a single pro-life woman in the U.S. Senate. Next year there will be at least four pro-life women senators. We thank Leader Mitch McConnell for his work to secure this new pro-life majority and ask him to put one of these outstanding pro-life women on the Judiciary Committee,” she suggests.
THE MIDTERMS GET FOXIFIED
Fox News Channel was a winner in the midterm elections, besting all broadcast and cable news competition Tuesday night, according to Nielsen Media Research. Fox News averaged 7.8. million viewers. NBC came in second with 5.7 million viewers, followed by ABC (5.2 million), CNN (5 million) and MSNBC (4.7 million). CBS landed in last place with 3.9 million viewers.
Fox News remains the No. 1 cable news network, as it has for almost 17 years and also has marked 42 consecutive weeks as the most-watched network across the entire cable realm.
Fox News also drew 125.6 million page views at its website on election night — its largest online tally this year. Fox News was also “the most engaged news brand on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,” according to Socialbakers, which tracks such trends.
Fox Business Network, meanwhile, continued its reign over CNBC for the 38th consecutive week, with a 24 percent ratings advantage over its rival.
POLL DU JOUR
• 56 percent of U.S. voters say addressing political bias and censorship in social media should be a priority for Congress; 57 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of independents and 57 percent of Democrats agree.
• 24 percent say this is “not too important a priority”; 22 percent of Republicans, 20 percent of independents and 29 percent of Democrats agree.
• 11 percent are undecided; 11 percent of Republicans, 16 percent of independents and 8 percent of Democrats agree.
• 8 percent say Congress should not address the issue; 9 percent of Republicans, 10 percent of independents and 6 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A Politico/Morning Consult poll of 1,963 registered U.S. voters conducted Nov. 2-4.