Editing Trump

Blake Hounshell, editor in chief of Politico magazine, provided a good example this morning of a problem with media. Here’s his tweet in a screenshot, because I hope he deletes it.

The link in the Blumenthal tweet is to an article in which Vice President Mike Pence is quoted.

“There was some talk about the Libyan model last week, and you know, as the President made clear, this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal,” Pence said Monday.

When it was noted that the comparison could be interpreted as a threat, Pence told Fox News: “Well, I think it’s more of a fact.”

The talk about a Libyan model came from National Security Advisor John Bolton and from President Donald Trump. But they were talking about two different Libyan models. Bolton said that he expected North Korea to hand over their entire nuclear program as Libya did in 2003. Trump said that if they didn’t, the United States would “decimate” them, as was done to Libya in 2011.

It’s often hard to understand what Trump is saying. This clip is more difficult than usual, but it’s pretty clear that Trump says the word “decimate” and talks about “the Libya model” in a different way than Bolton has. Before that, he said something about providing security to North Korea.

The Washington Post headline emphasized that part of the statement, even though, to my ears, the threat of “the Libya model” was more emphatic, with Trump spending more time on it.

Trump offers reassurance that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un would remain in power under nuclear deal

Acton may be right; David Nakamura and Philip Rucker may have been steered in that direction by White House aides telling them what it was that Trump was supposed to say.

Hounshell may have been subject to the same explaining, or perhaps the idea that the President is threatening war against North Korea in plain words is too uncomfortable for reporters to convey to the public.

Trump spouts word salad, a toss-up of ignorance, shaky sentence structure, vague referents, complaints, accusations, and threats. It is not the job of reporters to impose coherence on that word salad. It’s perfectly acceptable (to me, perhaps not to Trump) for them to report “In a windy set of impressions and inaccurate references, Trump contradicted Bolton and seems to have threatened war against North Korea, while putting forth a conditional security guarantee.”

Part of what they say should recognize the difficulty in knowing what Trump means. Trying to pin him down in his short press availabilities is difficult, but should be attempted. Yes, his words flow freely, unhinged from meaning, and he often refuses to answer requests for clarification.

Blake Hounshell didn’t respond to any of the comments and questions about his tweet, nor did he back up his conclusion. That conclusion will shape how he and Politico cover Trump’s actions toward North Korea. Hounshell believes, according to the tweet, “The U.S. won’t attack North Korea.” Apparently he doesn’t believe Trump’s own words. He should tell us why.

Update: Here’s a much more thoughtful and critical analysis of Trump’s words.

 

Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner.








Repub Venality Open Thread: Go Away, Smarmy Dubya Minion


KellyAnne Conway’s husband (a lawyer) rebuts…

Little toad refuses to quit, comes back for another round…








Open Thread: Choosing to Stand Up for Decency

When I first posted about Trump’s latest hate-rally, I assumed “They’re not even people, they’re animals” would get lost in the non-stop blizzard of Trumpian malfeasance. Kinda pleased (as far as I can be as a devout Cynic) to have been wrong about that…


Read more








Late Night Open Thread: Gun-Humpers After Dark

An All-American tragedy in three acts:


 
And then:


Read more








Russiagate Open Thread: Always Watch Out for the Sons-in-Law…

And here we were all assuming it would be Jared who proved the weakest link…

Jeffrey Yohai, a former business partner of Manafort, was divorced from Manafort’s daughter last August.

Yohai has not been specifically told how he will be called on to cooperate as part of his plea agreement, but the two people familiar with the matter say they consider it a possibility that he will be asked to assist with Mueller’s prosecution of Manafort…

Hilary Potashner, a public defender who is representing Yohai, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, declined to comment.

Andrew Brown, a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, had been overseeing an investigation into Yohai’s real estate and bank dealings in California and New York several months before Mueller was appointed to his post in May 2017.

Yohai’s agreement, which was concluded early this year, included him pleading guilty to misusing construction loan funds and to a count related to a bank account overdraft.

While the deal was cut with Brown’s office, the federal government “can ask for help at any time,” said one of the people familiar with the matter…

As a close business partner, Yohai was privy to many of Manafort’s financial dealings, according to the two people familiar with the matter and court filings in the bankruptcies of four Los Angeles properties in 2016. In addition to co-investing in California real estate, the two cooperated in getting loans for property deals in New York, Manafort’s indictments show.

Mueller sent a team of prosecutors to interview Yohai last June, asking him about Manafort’s relationship with Trump, his ties to Russian oligarchs, and his borrowing of tens of millions of dollars against properties in New York, Reuters reported in February, citing people with knowledge of the matter…

Considering Yohai’s no longer married to Manafort’s daughter, and that he’s using a public defender, somehow I suspect he may not be guy’s biggest fan.

Probably not related, but surely timers will be set: