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Morning Wire: Sinclair Media, Senate Dem Leader, Rodney Tom

If you missed it, you should watch the women’s college basketball championship, particularly the second half.  It was an amazing game, built on two great semi-final games.  Well worth your time. The men’s game – not so much.  Meanwhile, the Mariners are above .500 but already in third place in the division.

So, that means we’ll be watching the horse races of summer legislative and congressional races to keep us occupied.  It’s part of what we’ve teed up for you in this issue of Morning Wire.

With help from Emily Boerger and Kylie Walsh

1.  Sinclair Media’s “journalistic responsibility message”

About a month ago, CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that Sinclair Media was directing its many local television outlets, including KOMO in Seattle, to provide an “anchor delivered journalistic responsibility message.” The scripted message, which spoke of the rise of biased and fake news, was to be read exactly as written and run frequently. In his reporting, Stelter describes the message as “a promotional campaign that sounds like Pro-Trump propaganda.”  KOMO anchor Mary Nam made Twitter erupt when she fired back at President Trump’s defense of Sinclair.

This weekend, Deadspin produced a powerful video that features Sinclair owned outlets reading from the script. The video has only been out a few days, but it has quickly gone viral. KOMO’s newsroom held an impromptu meeting yesterday with the GM. It didn’t go well.

2.  Senate Democratic Leader race down to two

The race for Senate Democratic Leader is down to two:  Senator Andy Billig, current Deputy Leader from Spokane, and Senator Jamie Pedersen, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee from Seattle.

Sen. Andy Billig was kind enough to offer a few comments about his candidacy in what is typically an insider’s race, and one that he noted wouldn’t be decided until after the general election.

3. Video: Juliette Schindler Kelly, College Success Foundation

Conversations about education in the legislature are typically dominated by McCleary and public school funding. Juliette Schindler Kelly, the Director of Government Relations and Advocacy at the College Success Foundation, joins us in this edition of Wire Insider to discuss the importance of paying attention to higher education as well. The College Success Foundation works to support under-served and low-income students in their schooling and reduce barriers to accessing higher education.

“In this day and age, in this economy, especially in our state which has just been booming with this influx of new people and new jobs, it really is very important for our future that we pay attention to higher education which directly relates to the workforce. And to do so we need to make sure we’re not forgetting about low-income [individuals]. We have folks who have barriers to that access and therefore to their success in post-secondary completion.”

4.  Rodney Tom announces election bid

Last week, former Senator Rodney Tom announced he will run for election in the 48thlegislative district against incumbent Sen. Patty Kuderer. Originally elected as a Republican in 2002, Tom later switched party affiliations.  Then in 2013, he and Sen. Tim Sheldon joined with Republicans to create the Majority Coalition Caucus, which he led.

Tom says he plans to run as a Democrat, but told the Seattle Times that this time around he will not caucus with Democrats or Republicans, and will instead create a “third, small caucus of ‘socially progressive, fiscally responsible’ senators.” Tom’s election announcement was met with quick criticism by Adam Bartz, executive director of the Washington State Senate Democratic Campaign, Planned Parenthood, and Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib.  Memories are long in legislative politics.

5. $7.9 million elections system upgrade

Back in September, DHS notified the Secretary of State’s office that Washington’s election system was targeted by an unsuccessful hacking attempt. A few days prior to that notification, the Secretary of State’s office released an RFP to modernize the state’s election system. During that time, we interviewed Lori Augino, the state’s Director of Elections, who told us planning for the RFP began in 2014, long before they had any knowledge of Russian hacking attempts.

Now, Washington will receive nearly $8 million to upgrade its elections systems and improve cyber-security thanks to the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill signed by the President last month. This builds upon several actions the legislature took to strengthen Washington’s election systems.

Plans for how the $8 million in funding will be used have not been specified, but the state has 90 days to provide the Election Assistance Commission with their utilization proposal.

6. Content recommendations worth your time

Here are a few items from our collective reading list that we’ve found worth a recommendation.

Sebastian Junger writes on “The Anthropology of Manhood” where he argues “Every last one of us is dehumanized by a society that uses algorithms and mass communication to feed us the truths we prefer and the lies that we need.”  It’s a thought provoking read.

Google has a post where it tracks every shot taken by men’s Final Four basketball teams. It’s an interesting intersection of data visualization and pop culture.

Axios got their hands on an Express Scripts PBM contract (pharmacy benefits manager), a part of the health care sector with the steepest profit increases. They posted a series on it, which then drew the ire of attorneys, claiming copyright infringement.

A Bill Simmons podcast interview with former Seahawk Michael Bennett and his brother, Pro Bowler Martellus, discusses the business of sports from the inside, as well as Seahawk team dynamics.  “You don’t want a whole bunch of Russell Wilsons. You gotta have three or four Marshawn Lynches on your team. At any moment, you never know what they’re going to do. Whether they’re going to come to work or dropkick the coach… You need one good guy that does everything right, you know, prays and does all the stuff, then goes, “Yeah! Let’s go play!” Then you need some thugs. That’s just how it goes.”