All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday and we’re heading for an incredible weekend of sports and “Game of Thrones” viewing.

In fact, I can’t wait to get finished with the Friday mailbag so I can kick back and watch the Masters this afternoon. I’m also going to be at the Vanderbilt baseball game against Arkansas tonight throwing out the first pitch so we’ll see how that goes.

Regardless, I can’t wait to get rolling with the weekend.

As always you can email your questions to claytravis@gmail.com.

Okay, here we go:

Jacob writes:

“Clay I’ve gotta ask ya… who you betting sits on the iron throne at the end of the final season?”

First, yes, I’ll be doing my weekly breakdowns of the final season of Game of Thrones every Monday morning here on the site for those of who have been asking. I’ll also be doing immediate reaction videos every Sunday as soon as the most recent episode airs.

Second, my bet is on Jon Snow and Daenerys having a child and Daenerys dying in child birth. The baby, which will be the heir to the Iron Throne, survives, but she does not.

Jon then dies heroically to protect the baby from attack by someone trying to usurp the future of the throne — Little Finger may not have been killed, it may have been one of the faceless men — leaving Bran as the king regent to sit on the throne and protect the child until his time to reign begins.

If you want to really prove time is a flat circle, Daenerys’s child could be a dwarf like Tyrion, who I believe has a Targaryen father. (This would make Jon, Daenerys and Tyrian the three dragons.)

If you also want a White Walker prediction, I believe the Night King is a Stark and when he arrives at Winterfell that he will enter the Stark crypt and bring all the deceased Stark’s back to life as White Walkers.

Man, I can’t wait for Sunday!

We also debated who we think will rule Westeros yesterday on Lock It In.

Ron writes:

“So, if someone can bet on Game of Thrones and its ending situation, what’s to keep a producer/director from making a big bet then choosing the correct outcome to the show to win his bet?”
The betting limits are typically $200 or less so the most you could make is a few thousand dollars by betting on a TV show like this.
And that’s even if you rushed around placing bets on every site you could find.
More importantly, by placing these bets you’d be violating your nondisclosure agreements with the show and potentially costing yourself hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in damages if the network discovered what you were doing.
Where I do think the betting markets can be accurate is if some people not affiliated with the show have seen early versions of the first episode, for instance, and have bet there.
Here’s the other thing, if HBO is spending a hundred million dollars on this season of Game of Thrones, why wouldn’t they seed a few hundred thousand dollars to gamble incorrectly on these markets to make people think things are going to happen which aren’t going to happen?
In other words, if you’re worried so much about maintaining secrecy that you shoot multiple alternate final endings, which they reportedly did for the show, why wouldn’t you also bet things you knew were wrong to further spread misinformation about the show?
If I were in charge, I’d definitely do that.
Tom writes:
“Where do you fall on all of this Julian Assange stuff? I see why everyone is mad at him and thinks he should be prosecuted. But it also seems a bit hypocritical of the press to smear a guy for publishing secrets. The charges obviously allege he tried to help steal them, but right now the only person we KNOW is guilty of stealing secrets was Chelsea Manning, who doesn’t seem to be getting nearly as much criticism as Assange. Tucker Carlson had a good critique of those points earlier this week. I kind of agreed. It’s certainly reasonable to go after Assange for those allegations, but it seems like many people want him on trial because they hope he eventually ties Trump to Russia. Just curious for your thoughts.” 
It’s such a difficult question, honestly.
I think Assange’s arrest should be very troubling for anyone who wants a free press, but I’m also sympathetic to the argument that our safety often requires that many things remain confidential.
In other words, I believe Americans would be at greater risk if there were no top secret documents, but I also believe we deserve to see more than we actually see.
I also think the journalistic ethics at play here are fascinating when it comes to leaked documents.
For instance, North Korea hacked Sony’s emails because they were upset about the movie about killing Kim Jong Un. Those emails were all improperly stolen by a vile state actor responsible for the most repressive regime in the world today.
Yet everyone in free presses across the globe ran with the stories that emerged from those Sony emails.
The same thing happened with the DNC email leak.
There’s no way a news organization would have stolen a phone and published the emails on that phone, but they were perfectly fine with running stories based on Russia hacking the DNC. (By the way, the Russian “hack” was just an email phishing experiment that worked so it’s not like this was an amazing act of subterfuge by the KGB.) But, and I think this is key, the fact that the DNC was rigging things to favor Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders was a really big deal.
I think the American public deserved to have that information. That is, the DNC hacking actually benefited voters in allowing us to see the inner workings of an organization that was otherwise claiming it was neutral in an election contest.
That was a big story that I think voters deserved to know.
So it may seem unfair, but I base the value of a “hacking” on the legitimate newsworthiness of the information. Sure, it was salacious info, but I don’t believe we gained anything from the Sony hacking and so I’d be less inclined to defend those stories based on a hacking whereas I believe we did gain useful information from the DNC hacking and I’d be inclined to defend those stories.
Now, back to Assange, I see more value in the DNC leak than I do in the documents he got from Manning, but, and this is also key, he didn’t steal any of these documents. Others did. (The people who steal documents at their jobs, I believe, should the primary focus of any prosecution.)
All he did was publish them.
I’m troubled by the prosecution of a journalist for publishing leaked documents primarily because many of the most important stories published by journalists come from leaked documents or anonymous sources.
But I also think you would all agree that there’s some top secret information that absolutely has to remain top secret — the identities for example of double agents and spies serving our country. If that information was published then all of those double agents and spies might be killed.
So I’m not an absolutist on this issue — I think we need to rely on the intelligence and discretion of journalists. (Yeah, trust me, I know).
Right now I would lean toward the side of not wanting Assange charged with crimes based on his actions.
Tim writes:

“Huge fan, Clay (Do you ever get sick of hearing that?)

Do you believe anything that Michael Avenatti said on your show Wednesday?”

One of the challenges of modern media — which is a challenge in the criminal justice system all the time — is truth doesn’t always come from always truthful sources.

That is, you can believe that Michael Avenatti may be guilty of criminal tax avoidance and also simultaneously believe that he’s likely telling the truth about Nike paying millions of dollars to high school kids and shouldn’t have been charged with extortion.
The government’s charges can be valid in one case and invalid in another case.
I think that’s what is true here, Avenatti likely has caught Nike in wrongdoing yet people are not giving as much credence to these allegations as they would if, say, Yahoo Sports had published the same documents.
Now some will say that’s because Yahoo’s motives are more pure — they aren’t seeking to make money off their revelations — but that’s not true either.
Yahoo isn’t publishing their exposes without ads running on the pages. The next time I see a major story break — outside of wikileaks — without ads attached to it will be the first. So while you can say Avenatti was looking for payment based on his Nike discovery, so is Yahoo.
The difference is Yahoo’s payment is more indirect — via ad pages — than Avenatti’s might have been — payment to conduct an internal investigation — but the end motive — money — is the same.
That’s why most journalism paean’s fall flat to me — because journalism in America is a profit-making motive. The more explosive your revelation, the more money you make from it.
Franklin writes:
“Looks like the feds are playing hardball with Lori Loughlin, she may actually do time. If Aunt Becky gets sent to prison after Jussie Smollett has all charges just mysteriously dismissed, does that mean Black Privilege takes over the #1 ranking over Hot Girl Privilege in the rankings?”
Aunt Becky signing autographs and posing for photos as she entered the courtroom is one of the top five most cocky things I’ve ever seen a criminal defendant do before a trial.
I mean, I can only imagine how much her criminal defense attorneys groaned when they saw this happen. You know the eventual judge in her case is going to see this and be furious.
Here’s the bigger question: if Aunt Becky goes to prison is it the best thing that could ever happen to her career?
I think so, for sure.
She’ll make much more money in the long run by being charged with a crime and going behind bars than she would if she had never been charged in the first place. Don’t believe me, ask Martha Stewart. (The only exception here would be if Aunt Becky got life in prison, but that’s crazy based on what she’s alleged to have done).
Plus, Jossie Smollett is definitely going to get charged by the federal government before all is said and done with his case too. If I were him, I’d be seriously thinking about fleeing to a foreign country without an extradition treaty. Because he’s going to do years in prison, I believe, before all is said and done.
So I still think #hotgirlprivilege is more popular than #blackprivilege, but here’s my definitive Outkick ranking of privileges for those who haven’t seen them yet.
Greg writes:
“I see the following narrative from left-wing and right-wing outlets: “While Trump may not have been guilty of collusion, he surrounded himself with shady characters and that brings his judgement into question”.
What I’d like to know is who he was supposed to hire for his campaign and administration?  Every mainstream conservative was against him from the beginning.  One of the writers at National Review who especially enjoys calling Trump’s judgement into question considered running as an independent conservative candidate very publicly because he loathed the Trump campaign so much.
Trump had next to no Congressional backing, no support from conservative think tanks/media outlets and no options.  Not one mainstream conservative would have worked for him. Who was he supposed to hire?  How can the same people that are #nevertrumpers and #resisters hold this against him?
I’d be curious to get your take on this.”
I think there has been a great hope by Trump critics that he’s an awful, horrible very bad human being who is incredibly maniacal in his quest for power and that he was also diabolical in the way he got elected president. That fulfills the need of many to see Trump as an evil genius.
But I think that entire narrative is misguided.
I think Trump’s campaign wasn’t incompetent enough to enact any evil genius conspiracies. These guys can’t keep stories quiet for a day or two in the White House, yet some people think they engaged in high level espionage with Russia to change the outcome of our election and even after years of investigation and a $40 million investigation we can’t uncover it?
Come on.
If Trump had colluded with Russia it would have taken less than a day to uncover.
What’s more, and this is where I always come back on this issue, there’s no suggestion that the actual electoral votes themselves were rigged. (I mean, outside of Trump’s hamhanded allegations of voter fraud). It’s not like Russia hacked the election and changed the outcome.
Ordinary Americans went out there and voted and Trump won Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin by a grand total of around 80,000 voters. And do you know who these voters were who decided the election? People who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and then flipped to Trump in 2016.
That’s why the entire allegation that Trump won because of racism was so absurd at its inception too. Trump won because he flipped enough Obama voters in the Midwest to change the outcome of the election and — and this is key and few talk about this — because many of the black voters who supported Obama didn’t show up to support Hillary in these Midwest states.
Why didn’t they?
One big reason is probably because she was white.
I haven’t heard anyone point out that Obama may well have beaten Romney because of his (Obama’s) race. That is, black voters who otherwise would have stayed at home came out to vote for Obama specifically because he was black in 2012. (The 2008 election wasn’t close because Obama ran a much better campaign than McCain).
If anything, the racism at play in 2016 was black to white racism, the same voters willing to vote for Obama weren’t willing to vote for Hillary. (To be fair, it’s also possible sexism was at play here as much or more than race. That is, some of these black voters may have been more likely to show up and vote for Bill Clinton than they were to show up and vote for Hillary Clinton). But the point remains pretty clear: if the same black voters show up in the Midwest in 2016 who showed up to vote for Obama in 2012, Hillary wins in 2016.
These voters didn’t flip to Trump, they just didn’t vote at all.
There have been millions of words written about Trump winning because of racism, but how many have been written about Hillary losing because of black racism?
Almost none.
Why is that? Probably because the Democratic party so desperately needs black voters to support them that they are terrified of ever discussing an issue like this.
Now, and this is key too, this doesn’t mean that white racists didn’t support Donald Trump.
They probably did. But most white racists probably already vote Republican no matter who the candidate is. (Were white racists who more likely to show up and vote for Trump than past candidates? There doesn’t seem to be any particular evidence of this).
So, yes, white racists are more likely to vote Republican, I think that’s likely true.
But I think black racists are more likely to vote Democratic. (I don’t know which way Hispanic and Asian racists are most likely to vote).
My point here is that we continue to define racism like we still live in the America of fifty years ago.
I have a wild and crazy idea that I think would fundamentally alter the way we talk about race in America today — every racial group has an equal number of racists in it. That is, Asian, Hispanic, white and black racists are all of similar percentages in the country.
The media is fixated on white to black racism because that’s the historical legacy of racism in this country, but it’s far too simplified of an equation to embrace in modern America and it alienates many from a conversation about race at the outset.
That is, when you tell a certain segment of white people that they are the bad guy, they just dial out immediately. If you told people of all races that each of their races was equally responsible for racism, I think we’d be more likely to make substantial progress.
Right now the end result is that black people are cast in this narrative as perpetual victims of racism. And so we have the same racial victimization narratives playing out over and over again. The problem is the white liberals, like Kyle Korver, embracing this narrative, however well intentioned they might be, are actually making things worse.
You can see me analyze that here.

And instead of making any progress, we’re set in the same repetitive patterns, over and over and over again.

Okay, now back to the premise of your question.
If you look at most of the crimes that people have pleaded guilty to or been charged with in the Russia investigation, most of them have had nothing to do with the initial investigation itself, into whether or not Trump and his associates colluded with Russia.
Paul Manafort is a great example. He got hit with tax evasion for crimes he committed before the Trump investigation ever began.
And he wasn’t alone.
Many of these individuals were charged with lying to investigators. Not committing actual crimes, but just not being truthful when they were questioned.
And my question here — which is I think the crux of the Barr review of the Mueller report — is this, if there is no collusion with Russia, that is no crime occurred here, how can you be charged with obstructing justice, whether you’re the president or anyone else? Typically in order to obstruct justice there needs to be a crime you’re obstructing the justice for.
It seems to me it would be nearly impossible for any prosecutor to get an obstruction of justice charge if the underlying act being investigated — whether it was the president or anyone else — isn’t a crime as well.
Which brings me back to the Trump question we started with — I think the only way to get charged with obstructing justice when you haven’t actually committed a crime is to panic so much in the face of the investigation that you incompetently obstruct justice when all you needed to do was just to be honest.
Who are the people most likely to do this? People who aren’t as sophisticated in political circles, i.e. the people Trump had working for him.
The challenge, of course, is how comfortable do you feel being honest with investigators who you believe are on a witch hunt designed to find wrongdoing even when you’ve done nothing wrong to begin with?
And that’s where I think Trump found himself throughout the course of this investigation.
Almost all of the sins of the Trump administration — to the extent there have been any — are sins of incompetence not sins of nefarious design and evil genius intention.
That’s where I think the media has gotten Trump so wrong, they’ve assumed a level of competent evil that Trump isn’t capable of.
The Hitler comparisons some on the left wing make are ridiculous on virtually every level imaginable, but they’re particularly misguided when you consider that Hitler was, in fact, an evil genius. That is, his intentions were truly abhorrent and evil and so were his actions. He was capable of inflicting great evil on the world and he intended to inflict that great evil on the world.
I don’t think Trump is capable of inflicting great evil on the world, but, and this is key, I also don’t think Trump’s goals have ever been remotely evil either.
I think Trump’s successes and failures essentially emerge from the same place — he wants the media — and the public — to love him as much as he loves himself. Trump isn’t a white supremacist, that’s far too large of an ideology for him to embrace, he’s a Trump supremacist — he believes he’s better and more talented than everyone else that surrounds him.
Once you understand that psychological footprint, everything else about him makes sense.
And he becomes far less terrifying of a leader.
Trump’s motivations are always going to bend in the same direction — he’s going to favor the people who believe he’s a genius.
Rory writes:
“Since first hearing it a couple years ago, I liked the “Clay Travis dump truck of money” strategy to a coaching search in college sports, and although they missed the key part of it (the money), isn’t the recent UCLA coaching search the potential downfall of this strategy? I know UCLA did not follow this strategy, they just went to a bunch of high profile candidates and cheaped out, which is the opposite of the your theory, but do you think colleges try and go after the most realistic candidates more than the best candidates in order to save the embarrassment of getting used by coaches to get raises at their current school? Curious as to your thoughts on this.”
Well, here’s the problem, UCLA didn’t actually deploy the Clay Travis dump truck of money theory.
They offered John Calipari less money to take the UCLA job than he makes at Kentucky.
Then they weren’t willing to pay Jamie Dixon’s entire $8 million buyout at TCU, meaning that deal wasn’t completed because they didn’t pony up the cash.
Finally, they told Rick Barnes they’d give him a signing bonus to pay his Tennessee buyout, but the problem with that was Barnes had to pay taxes on the money they paid him to pay the buyout, meaning he still had to pay a big portion of the buyout himself.
Finally, UCLA tucked its tail between its legs and hired Mick Cronin, a guy who wanted the job because UCLA is a much better job than Cincinnati.
In every single situation UCLA actually didn’t deploy the dump truck full of cash.
The result was Cal and Barnes got substantial raises and ended up making more money to stay where they were than UCLA was willing to offer them and ultimately UCLA got a guy who wanted a new, better job.
The Clay Travis dump truck of cash theory requires that you offer more money than the other school is willing to pay. I think athletic directors avoid it because they’re afraid of looking crass, but the truth of the matter is this — the vast majority of the time in order to get someone to leave a good – – or even great — job you have to pay them much more money to be willing to do it.
The only other way you get someone to leave is by offering them a better lifestyle or a better opportunity than they could otherwise receive at their current job. (That’s the Mick Cronin example).
But that’s harder to quantify than just cold hard dollars, which is why I think the best way to attract top talent is the same no matter the industry — give them more money than they make at their current job.
Hope you guys have fantastic Friday’s.
Thanks for reading, listening to and watching Outkick.
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