Monday Morning Open Thread: Happy Vernal Equinox


Apart from #Resisting, what’s on the agenda as we start another week (and season)?

A new Washington Post feature, from Media Columnist Margaret Sullivan — “Tracking the special treatment media get when they play nice with the White House“:

True, it is not the proper job of journalists to provide favorable coverage but rather to hold powerful figures accountable.

But that doesn’t get you far these days, at least in terms of access.

So we’ll be taking note of what does.

Consider Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent trip to North Asia — his first such foray. Tillerson broke with long-standing tradition by not including State Department reporters on this foreign trip. The norm is to have a solid group of reporters who provide “pool reports” to others not on the trip, so that American citizens might have a sense of what their government is doing abroad.

Tillerson had only one press representative with him: Erin McPike of the Independent Journal Review, a conservative website founded by Alex Skatell, a former Republican operative.

McPike has little experience covering foreign affairs and has been with IJR only a few weeks, but she had written a piece about why Tillerson might be avoiding the press and how well he and the president were working together behind the scenes to get things done…

The decision was a way to give access to a “broader representation of U.S. media,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters last week, adding, “This is just an attempt to reach beyond the usual suspects, and I’m not trying to say that in a demeaning way at all.”

Tillerson’s own words showed how little respect he has for journalists’ role in keeping citizens informed. He made it all about himself, telling McPike: “I’m not a big media press access person. I personally don’t need it.”…

If they’re not courtiers, what good are they? And I personally don’t need courtiers, so…

Early Morning Open Thread: Is Our Press Corpse Learning?

Interesting, if true:

Friday Morning Open Thread: At Least It Is Friday…

… and hopefully most of the GOP liars will take the weekend off, even if the President-Asterisk down in his Mar-A-Largo dacha gets his tiny little hands on the Twitter-enabled phone again…

What’s on the agenda as we (try to) wrap up the week?

Open Thread: Can the Nerd Prom Be Saved?

… and if it were to disappear, who would notice?

Even if this lineup is too perfect to happen, could we at least spread the rumor that it will? Maybe “leak” this tweet to the Fox News twitter feed?…

Early Morning Open Thread: Snippy Sean & the WH Press Corpse, A Tale for Tiny Hands Tots

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!…

Late Night Open Thread: You Go, Sam Bee

Calendar note, per the Washington Post:

Comedian Samantha Bee on Monday announced a splashy alternative to the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, the annual schmoozefest that brings together journalists and the people they cover, along with an assortment of advertisers and random Hollywood types.

Bee touted her event, which will be held at the Willard hotel on April 29 (same as the long-running black-tie dinner), as a draw for “journalists and non-irritating celebrities from around the world” and promised to donate proceeds to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an organization that supports press freedom around the world, according to a news release from TBS, the network that airs Bee’s newsy satire show “Full Frontal.”

The comedian elaborated on the inspiration for the “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner” in an interview with the New York Times, explaining that her event wasn’t intended to “comment on or compete with” the existing press dinner, where a comedian traditionally pokes fun at the president. Instead, it will be a forum for her and other funny folk to make all the Trump jokes they want, without pulling punches, the implication being that whoever emcees the WHCA dinner might be tempted to lob softballs at Trump, or even that the event might be cancelled. “We just want to be there in case something happens — or doesn’t happen — and ensure that we get to properly roast the president,” she told the Times

She also said she didn’t intend to undermine the WHCA. After Trump was elected, she wondered if the annual dinner would happen or what form it would take, and that inspired to just throw her own. “We thought, ‘it will be cancelled or it will the most sinister, awkward thing you’ve ever seen,’” she said…

Vanity Fair says the WHDC is slated to go on, with or without an appearance from the President-Asterisk. But Deadline says they’re having a little trouble lining up a host for “the annual presidential roast/Hollywood petting zoo”, right at the moment… guess the Secret Service won’t let Jimmy Fallon pet the H(airpiece)OTUS any more…

Look for an ‘unpresidented’ run on antacids and acid-blockers as the Media Village Courtiers start to worry — show up at the WHCA, and risk being mocked? Or sneak into the popular new girl’s event, and risk the wrath of Jabba the Bannon and his froggy little online minions?

Reds Under The Bed

The non-revelation that Vladimir Putin actively tried to select the next US President — and succeeded — has been pretty well covered by now.  I just want to add one question that’s been bugging me all day:

What did the Trump campaign do, and when did they do it?

We do know a few things.  Michael Flynn was both a national security advisor to the Trump campaign and has ties to the Russian propaganda apparatus.  Former Trump campaign head Paul Manafort has worked for Russia and allied states, and has a rich, long-held trove of contacts with the state apparatus there.  Donald Trump himself famously asked Putin to hack Hillary’s emails.  I’m sure if we had the same access to Trump’s, his campaign’s and the RNC’s communications that we had to Hillary’s and her team’s, we could well have some very interesting reading.

Short of that, it seems a basic question to ask of the Trump circle.  Did any of them conspire with a foreign power to manipulate (steal) the election?

The fundamental crisis we face, of course, is that a foreign power fucked with our election, which ended in the result sought by an adversary.  But while that’s the obvious disaster,  it gets worse if the Russians had active co-conspirators within the Trump camp.  That moves them from illegitimate, to traitors.


That may seem a stretch — but given the extremely well documented Russian connections that obtained in the Trump campaign through the crucial months of the general election, it’s seems to me that it’s imperative we get real answers as to who did what to whom over here.  This is where I hope Marty Barron has his people working (I’ve given up on Dean Baquet).  And I hope there are folks at the CIA pissed off enough to help out.

Whoever does it, this really is a time that puts the idea of the elite press to the test.  Either they cover Trump and all his high crimes and misdemeanors, or they give up, and the American experiment lurches to its increasingly imminent collapse.

I live not in expectation, but in hope.*

*Hope is the thing with feathers. The one Dick Cheney kept trying to shoot out of the sky.


Image: Giotto, The Arrest of Christ (Kiss of Judas)betw. 1306 and 1308.