“How can you drain the swamp if you’re the one that keeps muddying the water?” Cavuto asked. “You didn’t know about that $130,000 payment to a porn star until you did.”
Cavuto, one of the few hosts on Fox News whocalls out the president, said Trump cannot criticize the press for reporting “fake news” when he repeatedly makes false statements without correction.
“Your base probably might not care,” Cavuto added. “But you should. I guess you’re too busy draining the swamp to ever stop and smell the stink you’re creating. That’s your doing. That’s your stink. Mr. President, that’s your swamp.”
“A job that was taken by a robot 30 years ago ... is not coming back, no matter what the president of the United States says.”
Flint Can Teach The U.S. About So Much More Than Poisoned Water
In a diner just down the road from the factory where he works, Art Reyes is talking about assembly line jobs and the robots that have taken them over.
He pauses to order a couple of the city’s signature Coney dogs (hot dogs topped with chopped onion and a mixture of fine-ground beef hearts and spices). Coneys and the restaurants that still serve them are survivors of a more prosperous era, when Flint was known as a hub of industry and the automaker General Motors employed half the city.
Today, Flint is better known for violence, economic strife and an ongoing water crisis that exposed tens of thousands of residents to lead-tainted drinking water. It’s a far cry from the city’s heyday in the 1960s, when Flint was the epitome of the American dream and people flooded in for well-paid, secure manufacturing jobs. Even those without a college education could expect GM to provide them with what Reyes describes as a “good, solid, middle-class life.” Today, he notes, for the most part, “those jobs no longer exist.”
Arguments abound in the Rust Belt as to where the manufacturing jobs went. Some support the narrative, spun loudly by Donald Trump, that free trade has allowed countries like China and Mexico to steal jobs; others blame unions.
There’s no easy explanation for what happened to places like Flint. But the influence of technology, particularly automation, is conspicuously absent from many debates taking place at the highest levels. Trump never mentions it when talking about reversing manufacturing job losses. His Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, questioned last year about the threat of automation and artificial intelligence, said they were “so far in the future” that they were “not even on my radar screen.”
For Reyes, 50, a lifelong Flint-area resident who has worked at GM for 30 years, there’s no question that automation played an outsize role in changing the city permanently. He has watchedtens of thousands of manufacturing jobs leave. He has also watched with dismay the appearance of “Make America great again” hats on the heads of his colleagues, stunned that they would buy Trump’s promise to bring back manufacturing jobs, which Reyes says are gone forever. While heavy industry still has a presence in the city, much of the work in factories like GM’s Flint Assembly Pant, where he is an electrician, is done by robots.
A2015Ball State University studysupports Reyes’ view. Led by economics professor Mike Hicks, researchers found that U.S. manufacturing is, in fact, enjoying healthy growth. The problem? It isn’t benefiting human workers. Hicks and his co-authors found that productivity increases, largely driven by automation and technology, were responsible for almost 88 percent of manufacturing job losses in recent years. Machines allow factories to produce more with fewer people.
The upside, Hicks said, is that technology tends to create more jobs than it kills, and he thinks that will continue to be the case. But he cautions against confusing job creation with a return to old employment trends. “The new job will come about, but it may take two or three years, it might not be in the same place, and it certainly isn’t going to require the same set of skills,” he said.
As researchers like Hicks sound the alarm about a coming wave of machines and AI likely to upend many medium- and low-skill jobs, Flint could serve as an indicator for challenges to come. That is, if America would only pay attention.
In hindsight, there were warning signs about how machines might alter Flint. Back in 1960, the city was the setting for a speech by then-Sen. John F. Kennedy, who spelled out the potential effects of automation. He spoke of deserted industrial towns across West Virginia, Oregon and Wisconsin and of people reliant on meager government food handouts. This could be the future for many more people, he predicted, “unless we recognize that machines should provide a better life for people and not a life of desperation for men who are 45 years and 50 and who can’t find a job.”
At its peak in the 1970s, GM employed some 80,000 people in Flint; it now employs about 7,200. The company significantly curbed its operations in the city in the ’80s, shuttering plants or moving them to the suburbs or to other countries. As the auto industry declined, so did Flint’s population, from almost 200,000 in 1960 to roughly 100,000 today.
From 2005 to 2013, Reyes, in his role as a union leader,helped former GM factory employees through programs like Michigan’s No Worker Left Behind, a free tuition program to help people acquire training or degrees. Where people ended up, he says, “ran the gamut.” He knows of one man who worked with marketing giant Amway and retired with a solid living in Florida. But he also knows a man who, already burdened with family struggles, killed himself.
Reyes was helping people, but he was helping them through bleak times. He remembers going home one day and telling his wife that he’d had the worst day of his life, then arriving home the next day and saying the same thing again.
Overall, he says, people who went into training programs tended to make a better adjustment. “They had something to look forward to,” he says, adding that people who weren’t willing to move on “ended up very bitter and had a harder time.”
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, retraining workers will be a continuing ― and needed ― trend. A 2017 poll by the company found that about two-thirds of public, private and not-for-profit organizations saw “addressing potential skills gaps related to automation/digitization as at least a top-ten priority.”
Looking back, Reyes says, he finds it interesting that a lot of the people he helped find new jobs and skills didn’t go into technology or full-time work for big companies like GM. He saw a lot of them become independent contractors or entrepreneurs.
“They’d been burned by a major corporation,” he recalls. “The more time they seemed to have had in the shop, the more likely they went into business for themselves.”
If Flint has a lesson to teach about automation, it might simply be, “Get used to it.”
The new normal for manufacturing is on full display at the GM Flint Assembly Plant paint shop, where the drab aluminum shells of vehicles go to get their eye-catching colors. There are hardly any people on the floor. And yet the place is a whirl of activity. An assembly line moves parts past small herds of robotic arms that spray on the paint. A few workers at various stations add finishing touches while electricians sit at a lone desk monitoring the machines’ vital signs.
For two decades, Reyes tried to resist just this kind of automated workplace. He held various offices with the powerful United Automobile Workers union, bargaining on contracts at a time when automation was a chief concern. The attitude in the 1980s was that the robots were taking away jobs — and it was true. Thirty years on, however, his attitude toward technology has changed, even if he remains unhappy about what it has done to so many of his former colleagues.
“It’s not even an acceptance. It’s an acknowledgment that there’s a proper place for technology,” he says.
Though he no longer bargains for the union, he doesn’t want his fellow union members to kid themselves about the reality of modern manufacturing.
“I will continue to try to convince them that a job that was taken by a robot 30 years ago ... is not coming back, no matter what the president of the United States says,” Reyes maintains.
Nevertheless, manufacturing still has a future in Flint. It’s just a different kind of future, with a smaller workforce. GM seems to be hanging on to its few remaining workers in the city. Since the recession, the company has poured nearly $3 billion into its facilities here, modernizing and automating where possible. But the 300 people employed in the paint shop before a $600 million revamp two years ago have kept their jobs.
Plus, the improvements to the shop mean that people no longer have to climb into enclosed spaces and apply noxious chemicals to the car frames — which makes for a healthier work environment. In the 1960s, by contrast, humans performed every job, no matter how dirty or dangerous.
Some union leaders recognize they need to adapt to new technology. Eric Welter, the UAW Local 598 shop chairman, is a full-time bargainer and says his job is to make sure workers aren’t left in the dust. “It’s really important that we embrace technology and figure out how to be a meaningful part of it rather than fight it,” he says. “Because UAW and General Motors have a good partnership and my people make good wages, I need to make sure we are also efficient, otherwise we’ll price ourselves out of the market. Part of that efficiency is automation.”
As the face of Flint’s industry continues to change and it grapples with its water crisis, it is trying to distance itself from the image of a crumbling Rust Belt city. Its small downtown is undergoing a revitalization project and is now home to a number of trendy restaurants and shops.
Reyes wants to play a role in what’s next. In 2016 he was elected to the board of trustees at Flint’s Mott Community College, saying it needed to play a role in diversifying Flint’s economy. “I may not have been able to stem the flow as it happened so long ago,” he says, “but I sure as hell can help the next generation of workers feel less of the sting.”
More women sign up to defend Brokaw and tension in NBC grows
More than 100 women have signed a letter defending former "NBC Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw following a sexual harassment allegation by a former colleague.
Among the names defending Brokaw are some high-profile personalities, including MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Mika Brzezinski, White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, and NBC special anchor Maria Shriver.
"As professional women, we fully endorse the conversation around abuse of power in the workplace. In the context of that conversation, we would like to share our perspectives on working with Tom Brokaw," the letter reads.
"Tom has treated each of us with fairness and respect. He has given each of us opportunities for advancement and championed our successes throughout our careers. As we have advanced across industries — news, publishing, law, business and government — Tom has been a valued source of counsel and support. We know him to be a man of tremendous decency and integrity," the letter says.
Linda Vester's allegations about Brokaw's behavior were firstreportedThursday by Variety and The Washington Post.
Several dozen women signed on to the letter the next day. The total number of signees has doubled since then. "People keep emailing, asking to add their names," said Liz Bowyer, one of the signees.
The current total is 115 names, including producers, anchors, directors, executives and others in the media business.
Brokaw is a towering figure at NBC and a role model for many in the television news industry. Many women and men at NBC credit him with advancing their careers, and that's why some people wanted to write the letter.
But there is considerable tension behind the scenes at NBC about the letter and the broader effort to defend Brokaw.
Sources described debates between friends and within peer groups about whether to sign on and what message the letter was intended to send.
As one of the sources put it: "What does it mean if your name is not on the letter?"
Vester's attorney, Ari Wilkenfeld, had no new comment on Saturday.
On Friday he said Vester spoke out because she feels "NBC needs to prioritize actually listening to and protecting their employees who have been victimized."
Vester was a young reporter at NBC in the early 1990s when, she says, Brokaw "groped and assaulted" her.
Brokaw angrily denied the claims in a letter to colleagues on Friday. The letter was subsequently published by news outlets.
He called Vester a "character assassin" with a "grudge against NBC News.
"She has unleashed a torrent of unsubstantiated criticism and attacks on me more than twenty years after I opened the door for her and a new job at Fox News," Brokaw's wrote.
He added that he played a key role in introducing Vester to former Fox News boss Roger Ailes, who later hired her.
Ailes, who died in 2017, left the network amid sexual harassment allegations.
NBC News had no comment on Saturday about the supportive letter.
Vester left the TV news business in 2006. She told The Washington Post Thursday that she chose to speak out now "because NBC has failed to hire outside counsel to investigate a genuine, long-standing problem of sexual misconduct in the news division."
The network promised to conduct an internal review of its workplace culture after "Today'" host Matt Lauer was fired last year. He faced claims of "inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace."
NBC News chair Andy Lack said in a memo on Friday that the "review is nearing its conclusion."
“I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things because they are completely alien to me,” Reid said, “but I can definitely understand based on things I have tweeted and I have written in the past why some people don’t believe me.”
Reid added that the cybersecurity experts she hired to investigate the alleged cyberattack have not been able to prove that her blog had been hacked.
“I’ve not been exempt from being dumb or cruel or hurtful to the very people I want to advocate for,” Reid said. “I own that. I get it. And for that I am truly, truly sorry.”
Reid already apologized in December for writing homophobic posts about former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (D) between 2007 and 2009 after Twitter user @Jamie_Maz shared screenshots of the posts.
Last week, @Jamie_Maz tweeted dozens more screenshots, also allegedly from Reid’s old blog, that included statements such as “most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing” and “adult gay men tend to be attracted to very young, post-pubescent types.”
Yet this time around, Reid had steadfastly denied writing the posts, claiming on Monday her blog was hacked and that a cybersecurity expert had identified “unauthorized activity.” This appears to contradict with her Saturday comments alleging the outside experts were unable to prove she was hacked.
Reid did not address on Saturday her seemingly contradictory statements about the alleged hacking or detail whether cybersecurity experts were continuing to investigate the matter.
A representative for MSNBC did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment about Reid’s differing statements.
Jonathan Nichols, Reid’s hired cybersecurity consultant, said in a statement Tuesday that he “found evidence Joy Reid’s now-defunct blog, The Reid Report, was breached after a review of suspicious activity.” He did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on Reid’s comments Saturday that appeared to state otherwise.
As HuffPost and otheroutlets have reported, only a pretty bizarre course of events would have led to those allegedly fraudulent homophobic blog posts.
Reid, who has been noticeably silent on social media since claiming her blog was hacked, shared a post on Instagram about heading “back to work.”
Reid opened her show Saturday ― the first episode since news broke on Mediaite of the screenshots on Monday ― by addressing the scandal and apologizing for past homophobic and transphobic comments on her blog and in her tweets.
She then dedicated the next 30 minutes or so of her two-hour show to discussing how “hurtful speech” affects marginalized communities with a panel of LGTBQ activists.
“I can only say that the person I am now is not the person I was then,” Reid said. “I like to think I’ve gotten better as a person over time ― that I’m still growing.”
Her attorney, John H. Reichman, said in a statement Wednesday that her team had “received confirmation the FBI has opened an investigation into potential criminal activities surrounding several online accounts, including personal email and blog accounts, belonging to Joy-Ann Reid.”
The FBI would neither confirm nor deny the existence of such an investigation when asked by HuffPost.
Here’s What 11-Year-Old Activist Naomi Wadler Wants Adults To Know
“I hope by the time I’m your age, we would have educated our children ... on today’s issues and we wouldn’t have kept them in a bubble.”
Before she entered middle school, Naomi Wadler had gone viral.
On March 24, the 11-year-old fifth-grader was onstage speaking at the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. During her three-minute speech, she spoke decisively about the lack of sustained media attention that girls and women of color receive when they are impacted by gun violence. “I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential,” she said. “I am here to say Never Again for those girls too.”
Her speech was quickly circulated online, earning her fans like Sen. Kamala Harris, Shonda Rhimes, Tessa Thompson and Ellen DeGeneres. When I spoke with Wadler three weeks after her launch into the national conversation, she said the whole experience had been “weird,” but was still ready to use her new platform to give me and my fellow journalists some strong advice.
“The media can pay attention. I feel that a lot of them are very ignorant,” she told me, stressing that this ignorance is particularly clear when it comes to white journalists perpetuating racial stereotypes about black and brown people. “It’s the racial imbalance in the reporting that starts a chain reaction where then other people start to believe that.”
Wadler is certainly extraordinary. The fifth-grader first made headlines when she and classmateCarter Anderson planned a walkout at their elementary school in Alexandria, Virginia, in the wake of the Parkland shooting in February. (Wadler’s mother, Julie Wadler, who identifies as a moderate Republican according to The Guardian, went to high school with the father of Parkland victimJaime Guttenberg.) On March 14, more than 60 students joined Wadler and Anderson in an 18-minute protest ― one minute for each victim of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and an extra minute for Courtlin Arrington, a 17-year-old black high school student shot and killed in an Alabama classroom days earlier.
But Wadler is also still a kid. She giggles over the phone, does her interviews with her mother nearby, and has big, beautiful dreams not yet encumbered by the cynicism that so often accompanies getting older.
During our phone conversation ahead the summit, Wadler and I spoke about her newly expansive platform, her hopes for the future, and her advice for us adults ― especially adult journalists. Us olds often forget just how smart kids are in general ― and how thoughtful, knowledgeable and opinionated we might have been at 9 or 11 or 15.
As Wadler explained, it’s on adults to check ourselves, step back and listen to young people. They “see the world through a different set of eyes,” she said.
How does it feel to have so many adults obsessed with you right now?
Naomi Wadler: Weird … I live in my house and I have my two dogs and my sister who I fight with and my mom who picks out dresses with me ― and people don’t know who I am, and now they do. So it’s a little weird!
Do you consider yourself to be an activist?
Julie Wadler:[Laughs] She’s thinking about that one.
NW: Well, I haven’t really thought about it. I feel like I’m just standing up for what’s right. I’m not really, like, “Ah, I’m an activist!” I’m just making the change. I’m not going onto the streets of D.C. and screaming for my causes.
Black women don’t get as much media attention when they’re shot and killed. They don’t get trending Twitter hashtags, they don’t get Facebook posts dedicated to them, they don’t get whole Facebook pages dedicated to them.Naomi Wadler, 11
Did you always believe you had the power to make the world a better place, or did you have a moment where you decided that that was what you were going to do?
NW: I’ve grown up in an environment where I’m told that I can be what I want to be and do what I want to do. And for a period of time, I had a piece of blue duct tape in my mirror that said, “You can do anything.” I’m very thankful to have two parents that encouraged me as much as they did, causing me to probably have more confidence in my voice.
That is very lucky. Your parents sound awesome. Can you talk to me a little bit about how you got involved with March for Our Lives?
NW: Yes, I can. So I organized a walkout [after the Parkland shooting] for my school with my friend Carter. And it was well and good. We did the walkout. And then The Guardian did an article about me and Carter and they wanted to know why we’d added an extra minute for Courtlin Arrington… and our answer was that she was black. And that black women don’t get as much media attention when they’re shot and killed. They don’t get trending Twitter hashtags, they don’t get Facebook posts dedicated to them, they don’t get whole Facebook pages dedicated to them. So I thought this would be a good way to get a message across, and inspire.
And you really have gotten that message across. In your March for Our Lives speech you called out “the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper.” Why was that the message that you really wanted to drive home to people who were listening on that day?
NW: Because, I mean, it’s my story. I don’t think that a white girl could have gotten up there and explained how this was unjust and how this is unfair and that she felt so bad. Because she hasn’t lived it, she doesn’t know what it’s like. So I think it was my story so it was a lot easier for me to put into words.
I’m a journalist, and I work with a lot of other journalists. What advice do you have for those of us who are in the media? How can the media do better?
NW: The media can pay attention. I feel that a lot of them are very ignorant, and they don’t know what’s going on around them. They believe everything they hear. And so that causes them to report that ― they hear that black men are dangerous, so then the next time it just happens to be a black man robbing that bank, they’re gonna say “black” in a concerned tone [when they report on the crime].
I feel that also when they report a story, if it was a black man who shot somebody, they’re animals, they’re barbaric, they’re terrible, they’re dangerous and you should stay away from them. If it’s a white man, he was mentally unstable. It’s gonna be OK, we’re gonna send him to a treatment center. He didn’t mean to. He was a nice man, I don’t know where this came from. So it’s the racial imbalance in the reporting that starts a chain reaction where then other people start to believe that.
What do you say to adults who try to dismiss young people because of their age?
NW: Be the bigger person. I don’t wanna go out onstage and say, “They say I don’t know what I’m talking about so I’m gonna tell them all the ways that they’re wrong.” Because by doing that, I’m the little person and I am proving them right. I’m being immature. I’m not having the mature, strong persona that I’m trying to put across if I go out onstage and start whining about how wrong they are. So I’m gonna go up there, I’m gonna be mature. I’m going to tell my story and I’m gonna make a difference, because that’s proving them wrong without addressing them.
In general, how do you think us adults can do a better job of listening to kids and following kids?
NW: They can realize that ... they’ve made their progress. It’s gotten better, it really has, since the 1950s and 1960s, but there are still these giant leaps that we need to take. So since I feel that young people see the world through a different set of eyes, they can really give a different point of view and say what they’ve been through and adults should listen.
So, I’m 30. You’re 11. What do you hope has changed in this country before you turn 30?
[At this point Wadler’s mother apologized, because they had to put me on mute so she could “hack up a hairball.” They both laughed a lot.]
NW: By the time I’m your age, I would like to hope that we would have made a lot more progress. I know that not everything’s perfect, and even though we might get stricter gun laws, there’s always going to be a problem. And so I hope by the time I’m your age, we would have educated our children, our grandchildren, the children after that on today’s issues and we wouldn’t have kept them in a bubble, so that they can do what we did. So that they can make a difference in the world they live in.
Are there any specific things that you’re like, I want that law to change, or I want to see this happen in our government or in our schools?
NW: I want to see stricter gun laws. You shouldn’t be able to walk into a store and buy an assault rifle without an ID, without a background check, without registering it. And we should make it harder to get the accessories that make semi-automatic rifles fully automatic rifles. And I would like further recognition and awareness of racism in the media.
And also, one other thing ― to help ruin the school-to-prison pipeline, so that black children, Hispanic children don’t go to school thinking “I am less than any white peer, and that I’m nothing more than a criminal.” Since they might drive past all these wealthy white schools that have uniforms and MacBooks and perfectly polished hallways, and so [children of color] think that they’re nothing better than a criminal and therefore that’s what they amount to.
I hope that girls, especially black girls, realize that they have worth and they can do whatever they want to do.Naomi Wadler, 11
Your message has already had such an impact. You’ve effectively gone viral. What do you hope other girls who saw your speech or saw you on “The Ellen Show” take away from seeing you in that position?
NW: I hope that girls, especially black girls, realize that they have worth and they can do whatever they want to do. And they’re not restricted by the lines of poverty or racism, and they can amount to as much and more than I’ve amounted to. They can give speeches, they can become activists if they choose to identify that way. They can read books, they can empower other girls. They should know that they’re worth something. They’re not worthless and they can make a difference too.
I have a feeling that we’re going to see a lot of greatness from you ― we already have. But what do you hope to be and do when you grow up?
NW: When I grow up, I want to be a politician-slash-activist who runs my own business and is an entrepreneur who lives in my giant penthouse in New York City and/or Chicago and has a brown Siberian husky named Sheila. And I want to be executive editor and president of the New York Times ― the first black woman. Or the first Ethiopian woman.
Well, I would love to see you do all of those things.
JW: We’re laughing because she has a lot of options. If there’s already been the first black woman, she can be the first Ethiopian-American.
NW: First Ethiopian woman. And then on and on until we get to Ethiopian Jewish woman. And then I can be the first immigrant.
JW:[Laughs.]There’s a lot of adjectives she could use to be the first.