October 8th, 2021: The Growing Political Divide, Trouble for Facebook, and the Infrastructure Bill
This week, White House Correspondent Paul Brandus goes into detail about the turmoil surrounding Facebook, the growing political divide between Americans, Stephanie Grisham's recent comments about former president Donald Trump and the continued struggle for Biden to pass his Infrastructure Bill. Featuring Kyle Kondik from the UVA Center for Politics.
President Biden’s big proposals remain stalled in Congress.
Not a good week for Donald Trump — one of HIS closest associates is
bashing her former boss.
Dsturbing new data on America’s growing political divide —
And Facebook won’t share this — a former top employee tells
Congress that the social media giant — is a danger to democracy
I’m Paul Brandus — you’re listening to West Wing Reports— it’s
Friday, October 8.
Not much progress this week on two big pieces of legislation that will
help define the Biden presidency. Last week I mentioned how his
infrastructure bill has passed the Senate — but is being held up in the
House — by fellow Democrats who FIRST want action on the
president’s giant social spending bill — that covers everything from
pre-school for kids, to hearing aids and eyeglasses for seniors, and
everything in between — renewable energy, community college,
border security, job training — and so much more.
The president is disappointed that these far-left Democrats — they’re
called the “Progressive Caucus” — has dug in. In Michigan this week
he said folks need to look at the big picture:
So the president presents this as a binary choice — either you’re FOR
progress or you’re not.
And you know that the president’s social spending bill was originally
$3.5 trillion dollars. But one key Democrat in the SENATE says it’s too
much. West Virginia’s Joe Manchin — again he’s a Democrat — says
that three-and-a-half TRILLION should really be maybe ONE-and-a-
half TRILLION. And now the President agrees that his giant bill needs
to be chopped down to size. So a lot of things on his wish list are
going to go away — or at least be whittled down.
You know it’s been said that getting bills passed is like making
sausage — it’s messy and you don’t wanna know all the details.
And that’s pretty much where we are.
Former President Trump in the news this week — blasting his former
press secretary Stephanie Grisham. Why? Because Grisham is out
with a book that torches her former boss. She’s been on tour all week
describing the Trump White House as, among other things, a “clown
car on fire” whose response to Covid killed people — AND that Trump
WAS trying to start a coup during the January 6th insurrection.
For his part the former president says quote "Stephanie didn't have
what it takes and that was obvious from the beginning.”
That’s not what he said back on June 26, 2019 — lets’s go to the tape:
Trump LOVED Stephanie Grisham — so much that he made her his
press secretary. Melania Trump loved her too.
What’s interesting here — is that those who knew the Trumps best —
are the ones who have the worst things to say about them. Grisham
worked for Trump — for six years — and says she’s quote “terrified”
of him being president again — and adds quote “he will line his
pockets” and quote “I think he would foment more violence.”
And you know Facebook wants you to share things with your friends
— well, here’s something the social media giant doesn’t want
ANYONE to share — namely THESE views from a FORMER product
manager at Facebook — Frances Haugen. Here’s what she told
Congress this week:
Haugen covered lots of ground — and did so in a conversational,
non-technical way that’s likely to resonate with both Republicans and
Democrats. Both parties — in a rare display of bipartisanship — agree
that more must be done to protect teenagers on Facebook. How-gen
floated one idea: Why not increasing the minimum age for any person
using social media to 17 years old from 13?
How-gen, who’s 37 — has been working in the tech industry for 15
years — and claims that Facebook is ALSO hurting America’s national
She adds that Facebook is NOT doing enough to protect against
threats emerging from China, Iran, Russia and other countries.
What’s the Facebook response to all this? CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a
blog post — says quote — “At the heart of these accusations is this
idea that we prioritize profit over safety and wellbeing. That’s just not
true,” Zuckerberg says.
He adds — and I’m quoting here: “We care deeply about issues like
safety, well-being and mental health. It's difficult to see coverage that
misrepresents our work and our motives. At the most basic level, I
think most of us just don't recognize the false picture of the company
that is being painted.”
This is a long-running issue that will continue to play out in the months
Couple of quick observations to chew on — just some unrelated tidbits
I find interesting.
One reason President Biden was elected last year is because he won
independents by 13 points. But a slew of new polling — Gallup, AP,
and ABC—Ipsos — shows him losing tons of ground with this key
group. The data shows independent support for the president — now
in the upper 30s.
The other thing that caught my attention concerns Florida Governor
Ron DeSantis. You know lots of people can’t stand DeSantis —
understandable given how he’s played fast and loose on Covid,
vaccines and masks. And it’s no coincidence that the death toll from
Covid has hit the Sunshine State badly on his watch. But now his wife
Casey has breast cancer — but some people can’t get beyond their
disgust with HIM to wish HER well. Breast cancer is horrible and
frightening; I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy — and to be
unable to show empathy to Mrs. DeSantis because you don’t like MR.
DeSantis — shows a lack of decency and civility. I think folks can do
better. My two cents.
Money and economic news affecting you:
194-thousand jobs were added to the economy in September, the
Labor Department says. The unemployment has now fallen to four-
For millions, the dream of owning a home remains just that — a
dream, and a distant one at that. That’s according to the Federal
Reserve — which says home prices have risen much faster than
incomes over the past year — nearly eight times faster.
Now let’s open up the West Wing Reports archives — and take a look
at what made history this week in the past:
One of the greatest coverups in American history began this week in
1919 — when Woodrow Wilson suffered a near fatal stroke. First Lady
Edith Wilson found him sprawled on a bathroom floor and when the
White House doctor saw him — he cried out “My God, the president is
dead!” Wilson was alive, but paralyzed and unable to speak. For the
remainder of his presidency, his condition was hidden from the
American public — Edith Wilson often reviewed papers and made
decisions on her husband’s behalf—becoming, some historians
contend, an acting president. An amazing coverup — no way that
could happen today.
Stone carvers began working on Mount Rushmore this day in 1927.
Took 14 years. As you know it features Washington, Jefferson,
Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt. What if YOU could add someone else?
A recent survey said Republicans would pick Reagan — and
The Supreme Court's first black justice - Thurgood Marshall - sworn in
this day, 1967
Want more presidential and Washington history? Check out my books
on Amazon — I’ll sign ‘em for you too — just shoot me an email. I’ll
give the address in a minute.
I like to end each week with a quote — something you might find
thoughtful: This week it’s from John Adams:
Quote: “Facts are stubborn things — and whatever may be our wishes, our
inclinations, or the dictates of our passion — they cannot alter the state of
facts and evidence.” Unquote.
Think about it.
That’s all for this week. Here’s my email —
That’s p-b-r-a-n-d-u-s. [email protected][ podcasts.com
I try my best to answer all emails — all I ask is keep it civil — disagree
all you want — but keep it civil. Please include your full name and
town — and thank you.
West Wing Reports is a production of Evergreen Podcasts.
Special thanks to CSPAN for the audio clips.
Our producer and sound designer and engineer: Noah Foutz
Executive producers: Michael D’Aleoia and Gerardo Orlando.