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.



Late Night Hypocrites Open Thread: It’s Not Lying If You Really (Pretend to) Believe It!

Speaking of National Prayer Day…


Hypocrite-in-Chief stands forth for his guy:


 
And, of course, this is just fine with the Media Village Idiots…


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Late Night Open Thread: (Probably) One Last Nerdprom Review

Keep in mind — Ana Navarro is a professional Republican. Jen Chaney, at NYMag Vulture blog:

It would have been easy for Wolf to take a cheap shot at either of these women for some superficial offense, like the way they dress or talk. As Nussbaum points out, that’s what Trump would have done, and has done on many occasions. But nothing about what Michelle Wolf did on Saturday night was easy. It was hard, harder even than the truthtelling that Stephen Colbert did to President George W. Bush’s face at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. True, Colbert was dressing down the commander in chief in his actual presence, something Wolf didn’t have the opportunity to do since Trump, for the second year in a row, couldn’t muster the courage to show up for this event. But Colbert could at least hide behind his alter ego as the conservative host of The Colbert Report. Wolf had to go out there as only the fourth female comedian to perform solo at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, drop a bunch of truth bombs, then sit back down with no shield to provide cover…

Not surprisingly, though, it’s the jabs that Wolf threw at Sanders and other Trump staffers that are getting criticized today, not just because some of them were funny but because they legitimately stung. To acknowledge what actually made the smoky eye line funny meant that some of the people in that ballroom had to reflect on the fact that they either lie, enable liars, or act nicely to liars because that’s what they sometimes have to do to get the information the public deserves to know. That’s the sort of situation that makes people itchy.

But here’s the thing: If the worst thing that happens to you while you’re working for Trump is that a woman from The Daily Show says a few mean things about you while you’re wearing a nice dress, eating a free meal, and drinking some wine, you are still having a better day than a hell of a lot of people in this country. Also, this is part of the job when you’re a public servant…
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Open Thread: Yes, Kill the NerdProm

It must’ve had some utility at some point, back when it was a standard trade-association awards shindig. But ever since it became a fantasy evening for the Media Village Idiots to work out their adolescent traumas — mostly by Vast! Performative! OUTRAGE! cheerleading each other, over the ensuing week, concerning whichever horror the other side was averred to have committed — it’s become both tedious *and* aggravating.

Every year, sensible press people suggest it be shitcanned entirely; every year, the sensible people have been ignored. But since we’re now in the “Everything Trump Touches Dies” era, perhaps we’ve actually seen the last of this farce?

Margaret Sullivan, at the Washington Post:

It never has been a particularly good idea for journalists to don their fanciest clothes and cozy up to the people they cover, alongside Hollywood celebrities who have ventured to wonky Washington to join the fun.

But in the current era, it’s become close to suicidal for the press’s credibility.

Trust in the mainstream media is low, a new populism has caught fire all over the Western world, and President Trump constantly pounds the news media as a bunch of out-of-touch elites who don’t represent the interests of real Americans…

Its defenders say that it’s perfectly all right to have “just one night” to enjoy a break from the supposedly adversarial relationship between government and press. But that relationship isn’t always as arms-length as it should be in a town noted for its mutual back-scratching.

Talev and her cohort certainly are dedicated reporters and editors. But this festive night, always unseemly, is now downright counterproductive to good journalism’s goals. It only serves to reinforce the views of those who already hate the media elite…

Can’t the correspondents’ association come up with better ways to do its good work, ways that show journalists at their best?

That they are in the trenches digging out the truth.

Not schmoozing in the swamp while the president hustles the heartland.


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Sunday Evening Open Thread: Another Nerdprom SCANDAL!!!


 
One good thing about last night: Seems like Trump’s latest Fox & Friends call-in set such a high bar, only the most professionally committed media folk could force themselves to pay attention to last night’s ‘Revival Tour: All Your Greatest Hits Live’ rally in Michigan. Which will further aggravate Donny Dollhands, once he comes down off the post-gig high.

Meanwhile, at the NerdProm…

Deadline Hollywood:

Wolf gave the room full of press a thrashing, as Stephen Colbert had done so many years ago in a WHCD Dinner appearance that TV news talking heads were still talking about tonight, in the walk-up to Wolf’s appearance, as if Colbert’s speech had been the one that could not be topped.

They were wrong.

“I know a lot of you want me to talk about Russia, Putin and collusion,” she said, but would decline because “I never wanted to know what any of you look like when you orgasm.”

“Except for you, Jake Tapper,” Wolf enthused. Tapper’s network, CNN, which loves to cut to its table at the clambake whenever their networks is referenced, held off for maybe the first time in WHCD history.

Wolf credited CNN with loving to “break news. You did it. You broke it. Good work. The most useful information on CNN is when Anthony Bourdain tells me where to eat noodles.”

“Fox News is here, so you know what that means, ladies: Cover your drinks,” Wolf warned.

“People want me to make fun of Sean Hannity. I cannot do that. This dinner is for journalists,” the comic said, getting some applause in the massive ballroom.

“We’ve got MSNBC here,” she said, noting its new slogan is This Is Who We Are.

“This is not a good slogan,” she advised, telling them it’s what their mom thinks that “new sad show on NBC is called.”…


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Reverse-Midas Open Thread: Adieu, Dr. Jackson

Had this post all written & scheduled, checked the twitters one last time before going to bed…


***********

Of course, Trump hasn’t got the guts to actually fire anybody, especially someone who might be tempted to admit on the record that maybe Lord Smallgloves’ physical status was not quite so magnificently godlike as is currently the pretense. Also, how long will it take to find a replacement who can juggle the Oval Office Occumpant’s Adderall / sedative dosages correctly? Politico‘s ‘Morning Playbook’:

… THE PRESIDENT’S NOMINEE to run the beleaguered VA has never managed more than a small cadre of people, and is now up for a job that involves managing the second-largest government agency, a department with 377,000 employees. He has also been accused of dishing out prescription drugs recklessly, allegedly passed out drunk at a hotel during a presidential trip, is said to have banged on a woman’s door after a night of drinking and allegedly crashed a government car after boozing at a Secret Service going-away party. Jackson has denied many of these allegations.

THE GENERAL CONSENSUS: Dr. Jackson will withdraw, which will give the president a chance to nominate a vetted candidate that the Hill can confirm. This is an election year. Republicans want the president to make things easy for them…

Given the information currently available, I kinda feel sorry for Dr. Jackson. He seems to be a perfectly competent mechanic for human machinery; Murphy the Trickster God knows that neither admirals, doctors, nor mechanics are generally famed for their temperance and humility. You might well trust your mechanic with your wallet, if not your life… but you wouldn’t necessarily propose he be promoted to CEO of General Motors. Or Microsoft.

But that’s the problem: Everyone Trump touches ends up the worse for it!


 
It would be funnier if there weren’t so much hanging on the resolution of this issue…



Open Thread: The DC Press Corpse & Its Greasy Thumb on the Political Scales

Amy Chozick’s “sometimes cubicle-mate” at the FTFNYT stands up to defend her, and his employer. One of a long twitter thread:

To quote everybody’s mom: If ‘every news organization’ jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?


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