August 5, 2018

An Assassination Attempt on Venezuela’s Beleaguered President
A Matter of Time Before a Journalist is Attacked or Killed By a Trump Supporter
Jared Kushner’s Bad Vanity Purchase Bailed Out By Qatari Investors

Program Notes

We begin with the assassination attempt on Venezuela’s President Maduro who was addressing a military audience at the 81st anniversary of the national army when two drones carrying explosives detonated nearby injuring seven soldiers.  An expert on Venezuela David Smilde, a Senior Fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America who has studied Venezuela for almost thirty years and has lived there for over a decade and curates the blog “Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights”, joins us. We discuss Maduro’s vow of “Justice! Maximum punishment! And there will be no forgiveness”, after blaming the President of Columbia Juan Manuel Santos for the assassination attempt along with the usual suspect, the United States.  With a little-know group “Soldiers in T-shirts” taking credit on social media for the drone attack, we will look into Maduro’s charges for which he offered no evidence and the claim by Soldiers in T-shirts that they were behind the attack which was not backed up by any evidence.

Then we get an assessment of if and when journalists will either be assaulted, injured or even killed by Trump supporters riled up by the president’s incendiary rhetoric since he regularly calls the press fake, disgusting and the enemy of the people. And given that many of the “people” at Trump rallies belong to far-right fringe groups like QAnon whose impressionable members believe in the most bizarre conspiracy theories and are heavily armed, we speak with  Peter Sterne, a senior reporter at the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He runs the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a website that tracks arrests of journalists, equipment seizures and subpoenas of news organizations in the United States, and we discuss the repeated refusal of the White House Press spokesperson to strop characterizing the press as the enemy of the people in contrast to Ivanka Trump who said they were not, and what journalists can do to protect themselves from vigilantes fired up by Trump’s hateful rhetoric against the press.

Then finally we examine the bailout of 666 5th Avenue, a building that threatened to bankrupt the Kushner family real estate business which the Qatari-owned company Brookfield Asset Management just paid $1.1 billion in upfront rent for, rescuing Jared Kushner from his vanity purchase on which a $1.4 mortgage payment is due in February of next year. Best-selling author, William Cohan, who is a special correspondent at Vanity Fair and writes a biweekly column in The New York Times, joins us to discuss the extent to which Jared Kushner’s White House role has enabled him to get out from under bad business investments.

David Smilde | Peter Sterne | William Cohan