The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Daily 202: Rust Belt Dems broke for Trump because they thought Clinton cared more about bathrooms than jobs

A closed steel plant in Youngstown, Ohio. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

with Breanne Deppisch


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio—Back in May, the longtime chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party sent a private memo to leaders in Hillary Clinton’s campaign warning that she was in grave danger of losing not just Ohio but also Pennsylvania and Michigan unless she quickly re-tooled her message on trade. His advice went unheeded.

“I don’t have to make the case that blue collar voters are, to put it mildly, less than enthusiastic about HRC’s positions on trade and the economy,” David Betras wrote in his 1,300 word missive, citing her struggles in recent primaries.

Donald Trump’s protectionist message was already resonating very strongly in this epicenter of the Rust Belt. Gov. John Kasich may have won Ohio’s Republican primary as a favorite son, but Trump whipped him in more than a dozen counties along the Ohio River. More than a quarter of the people who voted in the March Republican primary in Mahoning County were previously registered as Democrats. In fact, Betras had to kick 18 members off his own Democratic central committee for crossing over to back Trump.

“More than two decades after its enactment, NAFTA remains a red flag for area voters who rightly or wrongly blame trade for the devastating job losses that took place at Packard Electric, GM, GE, numerous steel companies, as well as the firms that supplied those major employers,” Betras, a practicing attorney, tried to explain to the Clinton high command. “Thousands of workers in Ohio … continue to qualify for Trade Readjustment Act assistance because their jobs are being shipped overseas.”

The local chairman feels very strongly now that Clinton could have won Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan if she had just kept her eye on economic issues and not gotten distracted by the culture wars.

“Look, I’m as progressive as anybody, okay? But people in the heartland thought the Democratic Party cared more about where someone else went to the restroom than whether they had a good-paying job,” he complained. “‘Stronger together’ doesn’t get anyone a job.”

Youngstown is the county seat of Mahoning County, which is home to about 232,000 people. The population was more than 300,000 in the 1970s, but then the steel mills closed and the area has never really recovered. Obama won the county by 28 points in 2012, a larger margin than he had won it by in 2008. Clinton wound up carrying Mahoning by just three points. That is largely thanks to a sizable African American population. She lost neighboring counties that had not gone Republican since 1972. Even amidst his 1984 landslide, Ronald Reagan lost Mahoning by 18 points.

Betras forwarded me a copy of his memo this weekend as we talked during The Ohio State University-Michigan State football game, which was playing on TV in the background. The Clinton campaign never responded, he said. “I tried,” Betras sighed, six months to the day after he sent it. “I should have yelled louder.”

With a mix of sadness and anger, he expounded: “We weren’t offering them anything for their souls. When people are thirsty, they’ll drink dirty water. When people are hungry, they’ll eat bad food to get sustenance. … That is why the great blue wall became the great blue paper wall. … We were so off message that a guy who (poops) in gold-plated toilets is connecting with these people!”

This mentality is what has motivated Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who represents Youngstown, to challenge Nancy Pelosi for minority leader. “No Democrat in my area feels like Nancy Pelosi represents them,” Betras said. “She’s like a distant cousin where you really don’t know her. Yeah, we’re related, but… The coastal elites don’t understand the struggle. It’s like we’re foreign to them, and as a result the people here feel like the Democratic Party is now foreign to them.”

-- Looking back at the May memo, and spending two days chatting with voters, it is crystal clear that the national narrative underplayed the full extent to which Trump’s anti-trade jeremiads were loosening the knots that had kept so many non-college-educated, working-class whites moored to the Democratic Party.

“Given the fact that this is a contemporary issue, the HRC campaign should disabuse itself of any notion that it can convince voters that trade is good,” Betras wrote at the time. “Clearly, HRC lacks credibility on the issue—at least in the minds of blue collar voters. Bill Clinton gave us NAFTA and HRC changing her positions on the TPP will make it easy for Trump to paint her as a flip-flopper on this critically important issue.”

Democratic members of Congress also lacked credibility to make the case that Clinton would fight for their jobs because they were seen as too political, the chairman explained. He wanted Hillary to talk more about protecting pensions in her stump speech, and he said real workers should record testimonials and vouch for her on stage during campaign events.

“The messages can’t be about ‘job retraining.’ These folks have heard it a million times and, frankly, they think it’s complete and total bulls**t,” he continued. “Talk about policies that will incentivize companies to repatriate manufacturing jobs. Talk about infrastructure … The workers we’re talking about don’t want to run computers; they want to run back hoes, dig ditches (and) sling concrete block. … Somewhere along the line we forgot that not everyone wants to be white collar.”

-- Three members of the Clinton campaign team pushed back yesterday when asked about Betras’s critique. They stressed that they always knew there was a problem and acted accordingly. Hillary came twice but never went to the Dayton media market, for instance. Youngstown was her first stop in Ohio after the Democratic convention, and she was joined by Tim Kaine. Bill later made four stops in the Youngstown media market during a solo bus tour. Labor Secretary Tom Perez visited for a fish fry.

“Is there a messaging aspect that could have been done better? I’m sure there could be,” a senior campaign official said, speaking on background to reflect candidly on what went wrong. “But no one took Youngstown for granted. No one didn’t think it was important. … It’s more of the fact that we were unable to tap into economic anxiety (nationally) than that we were not paying attention.”

Clinton actually performed slightly better than Obama in both Columbus and Cincinnati, but she underperformed around Cleveland and got blown out in rural areas. “We thought we were going to be able to peel off more suburban Republicans who were going to be so influenced by Trump’s divisiveness. And then we thought the working class would come home,” an adviser explained, “when they heard that Clinton supported the auto bailout and Trump opposed it, when we hammered him for using Chinese steel in his construction projects and when we highlighted how workers in the building trades had been stiffed after working on Trump’s projects. … We weren’t able to accomplish either one.”

-- Glenn Holmes is the Democratic mayor of nearby McDonald Village. He just got elected to an open state House seat with 60 percent of the vote, even as Trump carried the district. Holmes, who is African American, said it was more than just trade. Many Democrats in his district voted for Trump because they believed that Clinton wanted to confiscate their guns, supported late-term abortion and would not stop un-vetted Syrian refugees from pouring into the country. “I was able to speak more specifically to the fears and calm the fears” than Clinton could in the context of a national race, the 58-year-old explained in an interview. “Did Trump deal in misogyny and fear mongering? Sure he did. There was fear. He saw it and captured it. He won. It worked. Democrats didn’t address the fears. They dismissed them and thought people would see right through it. But that just sent the message that they didn’t care.”

-- I asked Ryan, the congressman challenging Pelosi, whether Trump won the election or Clinton lost it. “It may have been equal parts both,” he replied during an interview at a Starbucks near his house. “Trump really understood who he was marketing to, and he connected with them. His shtick worked. He traded on his brand. He had this reservoir of commonality. They used to fly flights out of the Youngstown airport to Atlantic City, and people would go to gamble at his casinos. We have a lot of boxers come out of Ohio. They go to Atlantic City.”

“While they look at us as trying to appeal to the donor class and the elites and the coasts and all that stuff, (Trump) said, ‘I don’t need anybody’s money,’” Ryan added. “If you want to resonate with people here who want to change the system, that one line did it.”

Ryan complained that Democrats lack the kind of core economic message that they had for a long time. “You look around here, and I can’t tell you how many people have lost their pensions,” he said. “It’s not a sexy issue. It’s a bread and butter issue, especially in the Great Lakes states. And no one was talking about it.”

-- Trump moved last night to show that he’s serious about following through on his promises regarding trade. He released a video statement on YouTube in which he outlined a series of executive actions he intends to implement immediately after taking office. First on the list is issuing formal notice of the United States’ intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

A story in today’s Wall Street Journal also looks at his early plans to push for big changes to NAFTA:Among the likeliest would be special tariffs or other barriers to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico and new taxes that would hit U.S. firms that moved production there,” William Mauldin and David Luhnow report. “His team says it may also seek to remove a Nafta provision that allows Mexican and Canadian companies to challenge U.S. regulations outside the court system.”

Bruce Springsteen's powerful ballad "Youngstown" was inspired by the story of a laid-off steelworker named Joe Marshall Jr. Marshall, a lifelong Democrat, voted for Trump...

-- Is the Mahoning Valley ever coming back to the Democratic Party? Will Ohio be a swing state in 2020? These are questions many Democrats in D.C. are pondering. Both before and since the election, scores of liberals have complained about how much attention the 202 has given to the Rust Belt; they argue privately that these blue-collar, non-college-educated, white-working-class Democrats are dinosaurs. The future of the party, they think, lies in the Sunbelt, and they think Trump’s win has only accelerated this realignment. Colorado and Nevada were relatively easy holds for Clinton. Trump won Ohio by 8.6 points and Iowa by 9.6 points. But he won Arizona by 4.1 points, Georgia by 5.7 points and Texas by 9.2 points.

-- Ohioans of both parties say that’s hooey, and that the state will remain a battleground in the future. The key reason is that Trump is an outlier, and voters did not perceive him as a conventional Republican.

Consider this remarkable nugget from the exit polls: Kasich, who refused to support Trump and traveled to the White House before the election to evangelize for TPP, was viewed favorably by 50 percent of voters on Election Day and unfavorably by 40 percent. Clinton actually won among those who viewed the Republican governor positively, 51 percent to 43 percent. But Trump won the voters who viewed Kasich negatively, 58 percent to 37 percent.

-- Democrats expect that Trump won’t be able to deliver on his big league promises, and they bet that voters will punish Republicans for that in the 2018 midterms and then Trump himself in 2020. “These voters aren’t lost,” said one of the Clinton advisers. “We just have to demonstrate why we’re economically relevant to these voters. Trump is going to help make that case for us.”

Cathy Hogue, 64, helps maintain the presses at a brick factory outside Youngstown. She’s been a member of the United Steelworkers for 39 years. Many of her coworkers have only ever voted Democratic, but she said they backed Trump this time because of his position on trade. “I don’t know,” she said when asked if they’ll ever vote Democratic again. “If it’s better, then it’s better. If it’s not, then they’ll come back.”

-- Larry Gestwicki, 72, served in the Navy during Vietnam and then spent 30 years working on the assembly line at the Lordstown GM factory outside of town. He guesses that three-quarters of the current employees at the plant, where they make the Chevy Cruze, voted for Trump. “If it weren’t for the bailout, they’d all be out of jobs! It’s mind boggling,” he said. “Maybe Hillary just didn’t talk about it enough.”

He volunteered for the Clinton campaign almost every day for six months. He knocked on thousands of doors. “A lot of people told me, ‘I just want a change.’ I’d say, ‘He’s not going to bring your job back.’ But a lot of Democrats, lifelong Democrats, would reply, ‘I just want change so much,’” Getswicki recalled. Many other registered Democrats who he talked with at their doors told him they were undecided. He now believes they were lying to his face and planned to support Trump all along but just didn’t have the nerve to say so.

Sitting by the aquarium at the mall in Niles, the proud UAW member fretted that Trump is now about to appoint Republicans who will pursue policies that endanger his pension. “I’m afraid as hell,” he said. “I can’t even sleep.”

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter.
With contributions from Elise Viebeck (@eliseviebeck).

Sign up to receive the newsletter.


-- D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will name Oakland's superintendent as the new chancellor of District schools today, tapping Antwan Wilson to bring fresh eyes and perspective as educators work to address the city’s wide achievement gaps. (Emma Brown)


  1. The driver of a school bus that crashed into a tree in Chattanooga, Tenn., killing at least five elementary school children, was arrested. At least 24 children, in grades kindergarten through fifth grade, were transported to hospitals after the crash. (Sarah Larimer)

  2. San Antonio police arrested a man wanted in the ambush-style killing of an officer on Sunday, ending a sprawling manhunt after a 20-year veteran detective was slain while writing a traffic ticket in his car. (Mark Berman)
  3. Japan’s Fukushima region was rocked by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake, triggering tsunami warnings and a wave of evacuations along the coastal stretch. Officials said they were continuing to monitor the area’s nuclear plant, which suffered a triple meltdown after a 2011 earthquake. (Anna Fifield)
  4. The Obama administration moved to block mining claims for two years outside the entrance to Yellowstone National Park, issuing a temporary 30,000-acre prohibition while officials evaluate whether to designate the Montana land off-limits to new mining claims for an additional 20 years. (Brady Dennis)
  5. U.S. judges struck down Wisconsin’s legislative map as “illegally partisan,” an unusual ruling that requires the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue of political gerrymandering for a second time. While the High Court often hears cases of racial gerrymandering, it has never struck down a plan on the basis of partisanship. (Robert Barnes)
  6. Officials investigating the killings of three U.S. soldiers in Jordan earlier this month say the troops were “deliberately” fired at as they returned to their base from a training mission. But with the shooter still in a coma, it remains unclear whether the attack was an act of jihadist-inspired terrorism or was triggered by a grudge or mental illness, authorities said. (Joby Warrick and Thomas Gibbons-Neff)
  7. A Maryland company that reaped immense profits from cutting deals with victims of lead-paint poisoning has been accused of breaking federal law. Feds say the company “aggressively” pursued lead paint poisoning victims – many of whom were mentally impaired – and persuaded them to sell large payouts for a fraction of their value. (Terrence McCoy)
  8. Kanye West was hospitalized for exhaustion in L.A. The visit comes after a bizarre weekend in which the singer delivered a long, stream-of-consciousness rant at one concert and abruptly canceled another with just hours notice. (Travis M. Andrews)


-- The president-elect's company has partnered with Indian developers to create more business ventures than in any other foreign nation or territory, our Annie Gowen reports from New Delhi: “In doing so, the Trump Organization has forged deals with leading moguls here, and with a billionaire politician. One Trump-branded project is under investigation for land-acquisition irregularities, among several projects in India now prompting conflict-of-interest concerns. The president-elect, who has called India a ‘great country,’ is involved in at least 16 partnerships or corporations here. Those business interests — and the financial relationship with a leading member of the governing party — will be a significant backdrop to Trump administration policy toward the world’s most populous democracy — and toward its warily hostile neighbor, Pakistan. Experts say that the Trump name is likely to remain marketable for the Trump family in India and that this could result in millions in future licensing fees. 'The Trump name is already associated with high-end, luxury buildings. Now it will be even more so,' said property consultant Anshuman Magazine." 

-- A spokesman for Argentinean President Mauricio Macri shot down press reports that Trump asked for help in approving stalled permits for Trump buildings when he called to congratulate him. The rumor appears to have been started by a talk-radio host in Argentina, who admitted he was “half joking, half serious,” but it caught fire on social media. From Nick Miroff: “Ivan Pavlovsky, a spokesman for Macri who was present in the room during their call, said the claims were false and that ‘nothing like that ever happened.’ ‘They didn’t talk about any investments or any tower,’ said Pavlovsky, reached by phone in Buenos Aires. ‘They talked about good relations between Argentina and the United States and the time they first met each other, more than 20 years ago’ in New York City, said Pavlovsky." Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller also denied anything improper, too. “Not true,” Miller wrote in an email.

-- “Trump’s Business Dealings Test a Constitutional Limit,” by New York Times Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak: “Not long after he took office, President Obama sought advice from the Justice Department about a potential conflict of interest involving a foreign government. He wanted to know whether he could accept the Nobel Peace Prize. The answer turned on the Emoluments Clause, an obscure provision of the Constitution that now poses risks for [Trump] should he continue to reap benefits from transactions with companies controlled by foreign governments. Mr. Trump’s companies do business with entities controlled by foreign governments and people with ties to them. The ventures include multimillion-dollar real estate arrangements — with Mr. Trump’s companies either as a full owner or a ‘branding’ partner — in Ireland and Uruguay. The Bank of China is a tenant in Trump Tower and a lender for another building in Midtown Manhattan where Mr. Trump has a significant partnership interest.  Experts in legal ethics say those kinds of arrangements could easily run afoul of the Emoluments Clause if they continue after Mr. Trump takes office."

-- “With a Meeting, Trump Renewed a British Wind Farm Fight,” by the New York Times's Danny Hakim and Eric Lipton: “When [Trump] met with the British politician Nigel Farage in recent days, he encouraged Mr. Farage and his entourage to oppose the kind of offshore wind farms that Mr. Trump believes will mar the pristine view from one of his two Scottish golf courses … Mr. Trump has long opposed a wind farm planned near his course in Aberdeenshire, and he previously fought unsuccessfully all the way to Britain’s highest court to block it.” “He did not say he hated wind farms as a concept; he just did not like them spoiling the views,” said media consultant Andy Wigmore, who attended the meeting alongside insurance executive and Brexit campaign financer Arron Banks. In an email, Wigmore said he and Banks would be “campaigning against wind farms in England, Scotland and Wales.” “Mr. Wigmore said that Mr. Banks had previously opposed wind farms … However, he said, Mr. Trump ‘did suggest that we should campaign on it’ and ‘spurred us in and we will be going for it.’”

-- Trump is starting to push back on the growing number of stories that highlight the potential legal challenges of his investments:

And, speaking of Farage, Trump last night urged the U.K. to make him ambassador to the U.S.:

-- “Giuliani abroad: Selling Latin America on his crime-fighting policies,” by Matt Zapotosky and Karen DeYoung: “[Rudy] branded himself the man who cleaned up New York City, and not long after he left the mayor’s office, he insisted on seeing some of the most dangerous neighborhoods of Mexico City … to assess how he could do the same there.” The work — which Giuliani would go on to shop around Latin America — made him a wealthy man. There is no complete public accounting of all of Giuliani’s clients, and it is difficult to assess just how much money he has made — and from whom — throughout the years.” In 2007, a source said its staff had quadrupled in its first five years, and that it had grossed more than $100 million. And Giuliani Safety & Security says on its website that it has “affiliations and engagements” in 63 countries across six continents. “But now — as [Trump] considers whether to appoint him to a Cabinet post — government ethics analysts and even a prominent Republican senator are questioning how Giuliani might be able to set aside financial entanglements with foreign interests should he return to public office."


-- Trump spokesman Jason Miller declined to back James Comey on Monday, saying the embattled FBI director would meet with Trump “at some point.” “There hasn’t been any official statement with regard to Director Comey,’’ Miller said during the transition team’s daily briefing. When asked if Trump would call for his resignation, Miller said only: “I would imagine that at some point, the two will meet.” His remarks come after Comey drew biting criticism from both parties during the campaign. Trump told “60 Minutes” after his victory that he hadn’t decided whether to ask Comey to step down. “I haven’t made up my mind. I respect him a lot. I respect the FBI a lot,’’ he said. (Jerry Markon, Sari Horwitz and Elise Viebeck)

-- Transition officials insisted Trump is seeking to build out a “diverse” administration, seeking to quell speculation after the first five people named for major jobs have been white males. From Karen Tumulty and Jerry Markon: Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said that assuring diversity — both in backgrounds and political philosophy — is a “priority” for Trump. “And diversity means meeting with people across the aisle who are traditionally more Democratic, who are coming together and wanting to offer him advice, perhaps vie for a spot in his Cabinet,” Conway said. “But willing to give him counsel and willing to share experiences and have candid conversations about their views and their backgrounds.”

-- Could Fox News be a talent pool for the Trump administration? From CNN Money’s Dylan Byers: Paid Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham is in talks to serve as Trump's press secretary, while contributor Richard Grenell is being considered for U.N. ambassador. Scott Brown, who met with Trump yesterday, is said to be “in the mix” to run the VA. Network hosts are also under consideration: Eric Bolling has "discussed the possibility" of taking a Department of Commerce post. And Jeanine Pirro was spotted at Trump Tower last week, leading to speculation that she too is under consideration.

-- He is considering retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly and ex-Bush official Frances Townsend for Department of Homeland Security secretary, Jerry Markon reports: “Kelly, a widely respected military officer who served for more than 40 years, opposed the [Obama] administration’s failed plans to close Guantanamo and has strongly defended how the military treats detainees … He also publicly expressed concerns over the Pentagon’s order in December that for the first time opened all jobs in combat units to women. … Townsend, who served as assistant to Bush for homeland security and counterterrorism, also held senior positions during 13 years at the Justice Department, including counsel to the attorney general for intelligence policy. If selected for DHS, she could also help Trump counter allegations that his Cabinet picks so far have lacked diversity."

-- Trump also met with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat and former Sanders supporter on Monday. In a statement after the meeting, Gabbard praised their “frank and positive conversation,” saying they discussed “current policies regarding Syria, our fight against terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS,” and other foreign policy challenges. A spokeswoman for Gabbard said she “did not meet with [Trump] seeking a job, nor did he offer her one.” (Karen Tumulty and Jerry Markon)

-- Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) also met with Donald, saying she discussed “a wide range of issues” with the president-elect but was not offered a position. “It was just an initial meeting to discuss a wide range of topics,” Fallin said. Other leaders scheduled for talks with the president-elect on Monday included former Texas governor Rick Perry, former House speaker Newt Gingrich; former senator Scott Brown, and Elaine Chao, a former labor secretary and wife of Mitch McConnell.

-- Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) said he will not serve in a Trump administration: "I am not going to go to the White House," Scott told CNN's Jim Sciutto, after meeting with the president-elect last week."I have a great job. I have a little more than two years to go in this job. I've got a lot of good things to get done. ... I've got a lot of things to do here." The Florida governor praised Trump’s transition efforts, saying the two “had a good meeting.”

-- Liberty University president and longtime Trump backer Jerry Falwell Jr. said he met with the president-elect and several advisers to discuss education. “It was a very good discussion,” he said afterwards. (Nick Anderson)

-- “The secretive brain trust of Silicon Valley insiders who are helping Trump,” by Elizabeth Dwoskin: “Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel is putting together a brain trust of Silicon Valley insiders to share ideas with the transition team for [Trump]. But he’s having trouble finding takers. In recent days, the Facebook board member and PayPal cofounder - who is also a member of the Trump transition - has been appealing to fellow entrepreneurs of all political stripes to share their best ideas and possibly join the incoming administration. But in the liberal bastion of Silicon Valley — where Trump is despised and even admitting you’re a Republican can hurt your candidacy for a job – that coveted opportunity has been fraught with challenges. The reaction in Silicon Valley reflects a broader dilemma for the incoming administration: Many of the best and brightest are wary of contributing to the incoming government because they fear the ramifications of having ties to Trump.”


-- “What will the White House be like with first lady Melania Trump living in New York?” by Krissah Thompson: “It’s one of the most enduring rituals of the presidential transition: On Inauguration Day, one first family returns to its home town, while the next moves into the White House. But come January, this tradition will be dramatically upended, as [Trump’s] wife, Melania, plans to continue living in Manhattan with their young son Barron, at least until he completes the school year. It could create a striking disconnect in Washington, where, in another break with tradition, the Obamas are setting up their new home only a few miles away, similarly delaying an out-of-town move to allow their daughter Sasha to finish high school here. Michelle Obama has signaled a desire to stay engaged in advocacy work, and her presence in the capital could overshadow Mrs. Trump, who … will be something of a first lady in absentia. “The White House adjusts to its occupants, and the occupants adjust to the White House,” said former Bush adviser Anita McBride. “It’s different, but … the role of first lady is really defined by each occupant.”

-- Trump repeatedly vowed to dump the Paris climate deal as president, but his future administration could encounter unexpected pushback if they try to fulfill that pledge. A new Chicago Council survey finds 71 percent of Americans support the Paris deal – including 57 percent of Republicans. (Chris Mooney)


-- Trump canceled a meeting with New York Times editors and reporters at the last minute, contending that the paper changed the ground rules at the last minute to put it on the record. The Times says it learned the session was scrapped via social media. "With reporters and editors set to go, the president-elect announced via Twitter around 6 a.m. that he would not be taking questions from editors and reporters with The New York Times, which were to be mostly on the record, unlike his meeting with television news executives on Monday."

The latest fracas between Trump and the Times, which he often calls "failing" in his Twitter feed, is only likely to play into the hands of Trump and his supporters, who hate the mainstream media. Liz Spayd, the paper's public editor, wrote in a column yesterday that complaints to her office are coming in at "five times the normal level" regarding the publication's coverage of Trump. Letters to the editor are comparable to the period following 9/11, Spayd writes, and customer care calls are coming in at "multiple times the usual rate." "The paper says quite the opposite is the case: It reports having the largest one-week subscription increase since the first week of the digital pay model, in 2011," Spayd writes. "I assume that The Times has more accurate data than Trump. But I hope any chest thumping about the impressive subscriber bump won’t obscure a hard-eyed look at coverage. Because from my conversations with readers, and from the emails that have come into my office, I can tell you there is a searing level of dissatisfaction out there with many aspects of the coverage."

Meanwhile, here's what Trump had to say about the NYT meeting:

Several reporters pushed back:

-- During a private session with TV executives and on-air reporters at Trump Tower yesterday, Trump told attendees that their reporting about him has been “unfair” and “dishonest.” From Paul Farhi: “Participants in the meeting ... described it as a contentious but generally respectful gathering. But if the media elite attended in hopes of improving relations with the forthcoming Trump administration, that wasn’t quite in the cards. The president-elect specifically called out reporting by CNN and NBC that he deemed unfair … Instead of striking a harmonious tone to build rapport following the election, Trump was combative, participants said. In a calm and deliberate voice, he told the group sitting around a conference table that they had failed to provide their viewers with fair and accurate coverage, and told them they failed to understand him or his appeal to millions of Americans. … He also shrugged off the need for a constant pool covering him, the people said, though he did not delve into specifics. The participants variously described Trump as ‘combative,’ ‘proud,’ and ‘dismissive’ toward the news organizations present.”

Attendees included executives and presidents from the five major television networks, as well as a spate of top media figures: Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett of CNN; Lester Holt and Chuck Todd of NBC; George Stephanopoulos, David Muir and Martha Raddatz of ABC; and John Dickerson, Gayle King, Norah O’Donnell and Charlie Rose of CBS. (Elise Viebeck)

  • How Kellyanne Conway described the meeting afterwards: “Very cordial, candid and honest."
  • How an attendee described it to the New York Post: “a f—ing firing squad.”

-- Important: Farhi questions whether Trump’s “Hamilton” tweets are simply “weapons of mass distraction” (spoiler: they are...): “He’s out there, lurking, his fingers poised on the buttons. At any moment, he may strike. News, inevitably, will follow. As he illustrated with tweets about the musical ‘Hamilton’ over the weekend, [Trump] knows how to change the subject — and the entire news cycle. Just as questions were mounting about Trump’s appointments, his business conflicts, his $25 million fraud-case settlement — bam! — Trump had everyone talking about something else. In this case, a Broadway show. Whether inadvertent or part of a calculated media strategy (there’s evidence going both ways), Trump has proved he’s very, very good at hijacking the national conversation. All politicians want to talk about their issues, but Trump is a cruise missile when it comes to butting in. He’s the Distractor in Chief.”


-- Nearly two weeks after the election ... this is how divided America has become: People have moved beyond staring at the vast gulf that divides them and proceeded to arguing over who is to blame for it, what to do about it and even whether it exists at all,” William Wan, Tanya Sichynsky and Sandhya Somashekhar write.

  • Korey, a student at the Georgetown University Law Center, said he is skipping Thanksgiving altogether because of lingering resentments in his family over the election. After he posted an anti-Trump message on Facebook, his father stopped talking to him, and his mother’s ex-husband threatened to write him out of his will.
  • Before this election cycle, Shannon Coulter, a PR consultant, said she tried to understand Republicans. Not anymore. “There are two Americas now,” she said “I am not part of one of those Americas, and I realized I shouldn’t bother trying to be.”

-- A new Gallup poll finds that a record-breaking 77 percent of Americans believe the nation is divided on the most important values, while just 21 percent say they think it is united and in agreement. Meanwhile, a slightly larger 49 percent think Trump will do more to divide the U.S. as commander-in-chief, while 45 percent think he can united the country.

-- A federal judge presiding over a U.S. citizenship ceremony in San Antonio used the celebratory occasion to tell new citizens they can “go to another country” if they don’t like Trump. He also lashed out against NFL player Colin Kaepernick, saying he “detested” his choice to take a knee instead of standing during the national anthem. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)

-- A Maggiano’s restaurant in D.C. is apologizing after hosting an alt-right, white nationalist group event on Friday. The Italian restaurant, which came under fire after an attendee tweeted a picture making a ‘Sieg Heil salute’ in support of Hitler, said it is donating profits from the event to the Anti-Defamation League. (Justin Wm. Moyer)

-- A Massachusetts college has stopped flying the American flag after it became the flashpoint of Trump-related disputes on campus. Some students lowered the flag in protest, others demanded it fly at full height, and another group of students burned the flag the following night. (Susan Svrluga)

--The Michigan middle school whose students led “build the wall” chants in the cafeteria after Election Day made headlines once again – this time, after a noose was found in the school’s bathroom. School officials said the responsible student has been “removed” from the middle school until further notice. (Sarah Larimer)


-- Middle East rights activists, dismayed by Obama, fear Trump will be much worse,” by Erin Cunningham: “Human rights activists fighting a wave of repression across the Middle East are bracing for an American president they fear will empower autocrats and roll back U.S. support for democracy initiatives in the region. The Obama administration — which sold arms to despots in the region even as it cracked down on opponents — has disappointed many rights advocates. But President Obama has also pressed Middle East governments to curb abuses and enact democratic change. Trump, by contrast, has not only lauded some of the region’s strongmen but also called for torturing terrorism suspects and killing the families of Islamic State fighters … His rhetoric has alarmed local human rights defenders who say their situation is tenuous enough already.” “The most repressive times we lived through have been while Obama was president,” said Gamal Eid, a rights activist in Cairo. But now that Trump has been elected, Eid said, “what is coming is worse.”

-- “Can China overtake the United States to lead the world? That was the question posed by the state-run Global Times tabloid in Beijing on Monday,” Simon Denyer reports. “If the United States under [Trump] gives up its global leadership and withdraws into isolationism, will the rising superpower China replace it? … Ironically, in the past week, China has defended the system of global governance that the United States has done much to build. China’s influence will also expand if Trump fulfills his campaign promise to walk away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. … China, meanwhile, has lost no time in pushing forward its vision for free trade in Asia, through a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a potential deal it has long championed that involves 14 Asian nations, plus Australia and New Zealand."

-- A newly unearthed letter from a German archive shows how Trump’s grandfather Friedrich Trump begged authorities in southern Germany to revoke an expulsion order for avoiding military service as a teenager. From Ishaan Tharoor: In the letter, reportedly penned in 1905, Trump beseeches the “well-loved, noble, wise and just” Prince Luitpold of Bavaria not to deport him. His plea proved unsuccessful, and he was formally stripped of Bavarian citizenship and forced to begin a new life across the Atlantic.


-- “For Obama, a bittersweet farewell from the world stage,” by  Juliet Eilperin: “One local radio host declared President Obama’s motorcade ‘impressive,’ and Peruvians gathered along the streets to watch it roll by. But for the most part, the crowds turning out to see the outgoing American president on his final foreign trip were smaller and quieter than on his previous outings. Those crowds were just one sign that Obama’s week-long valedictory journey had turned into less of a celebratory goodbye tour and more of a bittersweet farewell for a president whose worldview is now under siege. The president voiced optimism about the “strong handoff” he’s giving Trump ... But he also fretted about the rise of a “crude nationalism” that has gained currency worldwide, and the fact that social media discourse makes no distinction between fact and fiction. [In many ways], Obama faced the same predicament as both of his immediate predecessors: He hoped to make one final mark on the world stage even as a very different president, from the other party, waited in the wings.”


This was the video heard around the Internet on Monday:

The Holocaust Museum released this statement:

Here's what Trump's transition had to say:

And one reporter's response:

A terrible chyron on CNN drew immediate backlash:

From pollster Frank Luntz:

WaPo media critic Erik Wemple exchanged tweets with former Bush White House Press Secrerary Ari Fleischer about Trump's off-the-record meeting with television executives and hosts:

-- Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a candidate to lead DHS, carried a written proposal for how he'd lead the department out of his Sunday meeting with Trump. It was captured by an AP photographer. Zoomed in photos of the documents show that Kobach wants to “update and reintroduce” the controversial NSEERS screening program created after 9/11. “All aliens from high-risk areas are tracked,” his plan says. The document also calls for “extreme vetting questions” for high-risk foreign nationals. Questions included support for Sharia law, jihad and the equality of men and women. (David Weigel)

Al Franken addressed the use of water hoses against Dakota Access pipeline protesters:

Tommy Thompson can still do 75 pushups:

Scott Walker is enjoying the start of hunting season:


In Trump's world: Trump starts the day at Trump Tower, then departs for Mar-a-Lago for the Thanksgiving holiday.

At the White House: Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ellen DeGeneres, Robert De Niro, Richard Garwin, Bill and Melinda Gates, Frank Gehry, Margaret Hamilton, Tom Hanks, Michael Jordan, Maya Lin, Lorne Michaels, Newt Minow, Eduardo Padron, Robert Redford, Diana Ross, Vin Scully, Bruce Springsteen and Cicely Tyson. Biden attends the ceremony, then he and Jill head for Nantucket, Massachusetts in the evening.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate convenes at 11 a.m. and the House at 2:30 p.m. in pro forma sessions.


-- Our first colder-than-normal period of the season lingers a bit longer today and tomorrow. From the Capital Weather Gang: "Gradual warming continues through Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, Turkey Day may also be a bit of a turkey itself with clouds and showers. Showers and slightly warmer weather hold into Black Friday and maybe Saturday before we manage some sunshine again, especially by Sunday. .... Today: Much like yesterday, but just slightly warmer with sunny skies. Pesky winds from the northwest at 10-15 mph with gusts to 20-25 continue to hound us and offer some wind chill, especially in the morning hours. Highs hit the middle to upper 40s with a few spots managing to briefly crest into the low 50s."

-- Virginia’s health commissioner declared opioid addiction to be a public health emergency, issuing a standing prescription for any resident to get the drug Naloxone, which is used to treat overdoses. Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the move comes in response to painkiller overdoses in the state, as well as evidence that a synthetic large-animal sedative called Carfentamil is being abused. (Gregory S. Schneider)


Authorities fired water cannons at people protesting the Dakota Access pipeline:

Police fired water canons and tear gas at hundreds of protesters just north of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. (Video: Zoeann Murphy, McKenna Ewen/The Washington Post)

Trump's history with "SNL":

From press secretary Sean Spicer's comments about the show to the president angrily tweeting about Alec Baldwin, here is Donald Trump's history with SNL. (Video: Nicki DeMarco/The Washington Post)

For those who aren't familiar with possible Trump DHS secretary Kris Kobach, here's a quick primer from our video team:

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is a member of the Trump transition team who’s been floated as a cabinet member. (Video: Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Media executives assembled at Trump Tower:

President-elect Donald Trump held what senior adviser Kellyanne Conway called a “reset” meeting for members of the media at Trump Tower on Monday. (Video: Victoria Walker/The Washington Post)

The Hamilton actor who addressed Pence over the weekend said he has nothing to apologize for:

Brandon Victor Dixon, the “Hamilton” actor who addressed Vice President-elect Mike Pence after a performance Friday, Nov. 19, responded to President-elect Donald Trump's tweets demanding an apology from the cast on CBS's "This Morning" Monday, Nov. 21. (Video: Reuters)

Prince Harry arrived in Antigua for his Caribbean tour:

Prince Harry arrives in Antigua for Caribbean tour (Video: Reuters)

And it's already that time of year -- which of these TV spots will be the top Christmas ad?

Which British TV spot will be the top Christmas ad (Video: Reuters)