Indicted Missouri governor had been rising politically

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL whose victory in his first run for public office made him a rising Republican political figure, was indicted Thursday on a felony invasion of privacy charge stemming from an affair he had in 2015.

Greitens has acknowledged ...

Grand jury indicts Missouri governor who admitted affair

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens remains defiant, even amid calls for impeachment or resignation, after a St. Louis grand jury indicted him for felony invasion of privacy, alleging the Republican took a compromising photo of a woman during an extramarital affair the year before he was elected.

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Florida school shooting: ‘abject breakdown at all levels’

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - The Florida high school where a former student shot and killed 17 people with an assault-type rifle is reopening for teachers Friday as the community grappled with word that the armed officer on campus did nothing to stop the shooter.

That failure, plus reports of ...

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services drops ‘nation of immigrants’ from mission

The federal agency that oversees legal immigration to the U.S. has removed the words "nation of immigrants" from its mission statement, as the Trump administration moves to put Americans as the top priority.

The new statement reads: "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation's lawful immigration system, safeguarding its ...

In Trump they trust, even when it’s about Romney

President Trump's decision to endorse former political rival Mitt Romney's Senate bid in Utah has left conservative activists baffled, but not deterred in their support for Mr. Trump.

Attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Maryland this week said they're willing to give the president the benefit of ...

The Paradoxes of the Mueller Investigation

Victor Davis Hanson, Investor's Biz Daily
Special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russian nationals for allegedly conspiring to sow confusion in the 2016 presidential election. The chance of extraditing any of the accused from Vladimir Putin's Russia is zero.

CNN’s Shameful Town Hall Is a Clarifying Moment on Guns

David Harsanyi, Federalist
CNN recently hosted an anti-gun town hall featuring a number of grieving children and parents from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who aimed their ire at the National Rifle Association, politicians peripherally associated with the NRA and anyone who didn't say exactly what they wanted to hear. It was an event where a student could compare Sen. Marco Rubio to a mass murderer and question whether NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch truly cares about her children without ever being challenged.

Report: McCain Associate Pleads Fifth on Russian Dossier

An associate of Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain has cited his Fifth Amendment rights in refusing to appear before the House Intelligence Committee in its probe of the unverified Russian dossier containing negative information on President Donald Trump, according to news...

‘Twitter purge’ of conservative accounts prompts backlash, lawsuits

Prominent conservative Twitter users pushed back hard on Wednesday after an overnight purge of their accounts that culled thousands of their followers, as the embattled social media platform faced mounting charges of left-wing bias and suppression of right-wing viewpoints.

San Francisco-based Twitter said it acted to reduce the flow of ...

At CPAC, conservatives celebrate Donald Trump’s accomplishments

President Trump's top cheerleaders took a victory lap at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, saying he's checked off much of his to-do list and urging voters to remember that in November.

Heading into an election where the GOP faces headwinds, Eric Trump, one of the president's sons and ...

Donald Trump maps out plan to prevent school shootings after Florida tragedy

President Trump mapped out his strategy Thursday for preventing school shootings, a plan that includes raising the age limit for purchasing semiautomatic rifles, arming more teachers and strengthening background checks to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

But part of that plan — arming more school ...

Facebook Promised Political Advertising Changes After 2016. Now, Campaigns Are Anxiously Waiting For Them.

Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images

Campaigns across the country are anxiously awaiting changes to the way they advertise on Facebook, after the platform promised more transparency about and new rules for political advertising.

Though there’s been widespread focus on Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election, traditional campaigns and PACs spent millions and millions of dollars on ads — and even small changes in process or the algorithm could mean big changes for how political campaigns reach people this year.

But the first major primaries of 2018 are less than two weeks away, and Facebook has offered only a broad outline of what to expect and a vague timetable — sometime this summer — for when to expect it.

"We’re all trying to learn exactly what these new disclosures will look like and how they’re going to affect our campaigns,” Ted Peterson, the digital director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which promotes House candidates, told BuzzFeed News.

Like media publishers, many campaign operatives worry that changes in the Facebook algorithm will make political advertising more difficult — or maybe more expensive. They’re also contemplating what the potential loss of dark social ads might mean for campaigns, which would appear on a candidate’s page as opposed to only being shown to their targeted audience under the new rules.

“I think campaigns are going to have to change some of their tactics if they don’t want their exact messaging to be given away, they may have to change who they’re advertising to and with what messages with the idea that everything is potentially out there and hopefully that dissuades some bad actors,” said a Democratic digital strategist.

Others in the digital field are skeptical if Facebook’s broad strategy for transparency on its ad platform will fix the problems that emerged during the 2016 presidential election.

"To be honest, I'll believe it when I see it,” said Kevin Bingle, who served as digital director on Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign and works with other Republican candidates. “I hope they can figure this all out, but I'm not sure I understand what their goal is here.”

Facebook, which did not respond to requests for comment, is vowing to be more rigorous in verifying advertisers’ identities, in part spurred by the Russian meddling during the last campaign cycle. Rob Goldman, the company’s vice president of ads, said last October that a version of the new system is being tested in Canada. At first, only federal election-related ads will be affected when it launches in the US.

Among the most substantial “election integrity” measures announced last year is a searchable database that will allow all users to track all ads purchased by a particular campaign, including ads only previously seen by a micro-targeted audience. Company officials say the system will shine more light on who is trying to influence political races.

It’s a level of disclosure that, as described, resembles how television ads work: Local TV stations and cable providers keep public records documenting airtime costs for ads that all people viewing a given channel in a given market see.

Some campaign operatives who spoke to BuzzFeed News noted that because this is being done proactively by Facebook and not by federal regulators, the result could be totally different system that’s not as accessible or transparent as the Federal Communications Commission’s public files. But Facebook has said that political advertisers will be required to disclose who they are reaching — how many impressions, which demographics — and how much they are spending.

Digital strategists are waiting for word on how detailed they’ll have to be in their disclosures and how Facebook will present these details — which they say will affect the kinds of ads they run. And many are worried about surrendering the competitive advantages that came from being able to tailor a Facebook ad to a specific kind of voter without rival campaigns knowing the particulars about reach and cost.

Brad Parscale, the digital director for Donald Trump, who emphasized Facebook above all else last time.

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Even at a basic level, the disclosures likely will tip off a campaign when a competitor is doing something new — and, as with TV, there will be a rush to match. The transparency in TV “tends to drive up the cost of what the other side is spending, so there’s this really competitive nature,” said Tara McGowan, founder of Lockwood Strategy and a former digital director at Priorities USA, the Democratic super PAC that backed Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Or, as National Republican Senatorial Committee digital director Jon Adams put it: “If I shoot a missile, you shoot a missile.”

But the spending disclosures could work both ways. A campaign that sees a rival spending little or nothing on Facebook is unlikely to invest much money there. "It will be interesting,” Adams said, “to see how they include the spend amount behind the ads — does that help or hurt Facebook? Does that drive more dollars to the platform? Or to television?"

How Facebook displays the spend amount is of particular to interest to digital strategists. Will there be an amount shown for each ad? A cumulative total? What if a campaign produces eight slightly different versions of the same ad for eight different audiences? Will a user be able to see exactly how much a campaign is spending in every specific permutation?

“I think there’s going to be a lot of gaming the system,” said one Republican digital specialist.

This operative and others said that, depending on how deep Facebook makes them go, they might change the way they produce and target content, perhaps including a second state or congressional district to obscure an ad’s actual purpose. Or maybe they will flood the zone with a bunch of ads, each one with a different color background or other distinguishing characteristic to confuse anyone who might be trying to decipher a strategy.

“It’s going to be hard on both sides for Facebook to track every single ad and hold every ad accountable,” McGowan said. “I know they’re probably trying to build that plane as they fly it. I have no idea what the backend looks like but I know there’s an enormous amount of advertising that’s done on the self-serve platform and I’m sure there’ll be some difficulty there to track and regulate every single ad.”

Another Democratic strategist was concerned about how fast Facebook would be in pushing ads through the revamped approval process. “Political campaigns and political advertising is such a fast-paced environment,” said the strategist. “Anything that Facebook would do to slow down the approval process or the creation of ad campaigns — that’s detrimental to campaigns being able to get their message out quickly.”

Bingle, Kasich’s digital consultant, questioned whether Facebook’s new system will work as intended.

"How many people do you think are going to see something super-partisan on Facebook and take the time to visit that organization's page and do homework about what other things they're running and who they're targeting?” Bingle said. “Maybe I'm wrong, but the only people I can see realistically doing that are members of the media and a candidate's opposition. What does this change do to prevent bad information from spreading?"

Missouri governor stirred disputes before affair, indictment

Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens courted controversy and touched off political disputes even before acknowledging an extramarital affair that led to his indictment Thursday on a felony invasion of privacy charge.

Greitens had been a rising star in the national Republican Party and a welcome partner for state GOP lawmakers, ...

Michael Behenna seeks Trump pardon

Almost a decade after he killed a terrorism suspect in the Iraqi desert, former Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna seeks a shot at redemption. It may be a long shot.

Behenna's cause was launched by his attorney on Jan. 17, but the former Ranger's bid has picked up a lot ...

Inside the Beltway: CNN gets aggressive over ratings

CNN's recent town hall on guns in America was a tense broadcast event that sparked controversy and ignored industry ethics meant to preserve decorum and fairness on the airwaves. Things change. The two-hour program boldly breached barriers between entertainment, news and reality TV. But it also garnered big ratings for ...