The news media has been on a never-ending quest to build a case for the impeachment of President Trump for many months. The current edition is centered on Donald Trump Jr. following a New York Times story published this week titled simply “Trump’s son met with Russian lawyer after being promised damaging information on Clinton.” The account, written by three reporters, is too detailed and baroque to go into here. Suffice it to say, the story launched a now-familiar press feeding frenzy.
“Think about all of those bombshells. You don’t even have to remember the specific bombshell. All you have to remember is that each one was treated as the smoking gun, the answer,” talk radio host Rush Limbaugh told his audience on Tuesday, advising them to recall all the impeachment coverage stretching back for weeks.
“Every one of those stories was treated as the ‘gotcha,’ ‘this is it,’ ‘we’ve got the goods on Trump.’ Every one of those stories, if you read down far enough, had to include a sentence or maybe a short paragraph acknowledging no evidence for the allegations has yet been found, but suspicions remain high — or some such thing. Think about all of these bombshells, all of these reports, all of the time spent,” Mr. Limbaugh continued, citing a recent Media Research Center study that found an overwhelming percentage of Trump coverage was hostile.
“There are more than a hundred days of news stories featuring a conclusion or a supposition or a good likelihood or whatever, that this was it! We finally have come across the bit of information that’s going to nail Trump. This is it. This is what proves the collusion — every day for I don’t know how many days,” Mr. Limbaugh said, concluding that none of the suggestions had proven true.
Meanwhile, there are the headlines. A slim sampling from the dozens of stories, timelines, op-eds and speculations that exploded — pop, pop, pop — from a fuse lit by the original New York Times story:
“Trump’s web of Russian ties grows with Miss Universe links” (CNN), “There is still no actual evidence of Trump-Russia collusion” (The Week), “Donald Trump Jr.’s e-mails have fundamentally changed the Russia story” (The New Yorker), “Legal experts say Donald Trump Jr. has just confessed to a federal crime” (Vox), “The wall begins to crumble: Notes on collusion” (Foreign Policy), “Obama ethics czar: Trump Jr. emails proof that collusion was offered and accepted” (The Hill), “Russian lawyer denies having Clinton dirt, Kremlin ties” (Reuters), “The media’s hysteria over Trump-Russia ‘collusion’ is out of control” (Chicago Tribune).
THE ART OF WHITE HOUSE WRANGLING
Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered a 22-minute briefing Tuesday to the White House press corps, who wanted to talk primarily about “Russia collusion” and Donald Trump Jr.’s related emails.
“I’ve got a quick statement that I will read from the president: ‘My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency.’ And beyond that, I’m going to have to refer everything on this matter to Don Jr.’s counsel and outside counsel, and won’t have anything else to add beyond that today,” Mrs. Sanders told the assembled press.
It was not enough for the journalists, who repeatedly pressed her on the matter. Here is a catalog of Mrs. Sanders’ responses:
“Beyond the statements yesterday and what I read today, I don’t have anything else to add.”
“Once again, I know you guys are going to get tired of it today — and not to sound like a broken record — but on all questions related to this matter, I would refer you to Don Jr.’s counsel and outside counsel.”
“Once again, to repeat myself, I’m going to refer you to the outside counsel, and I don’t have anything else to add.”
“Like I’ve said, I don’t have anything else to add.”
“Again, I’ve said all that we’re going to say on that matter.”
“Again, I’m not going to get into the details of anything surrounding this, and would refer you to Don Jr.’s outside counsel.”
“Again, I would refer you to the outside special counsel.”
“Again, I’m not going to answer any questions on that matter.”
A news conference of note in the nation’s capital on Wednesday: “Independents Day,” staged at the National Press Club by The Centrist Project. The nonprofit seeks to “bridge the partisan divide in government by promoting centrist, independent leadership,” referring to itself as an “unparty” rather than a “third party,” and citing a recent Gallup Poll that revealed 40 percent of Americans now consider themselves independents.
There will be a quartet of political independents on hand for the event: Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, Iowa state Sen. David Johnson, Alaska state Rep. Jason Grenn and Maine state Rep. Owen Casas.
No word on the agenda here. But the organizers do offer this statement: “In France, a new centrist, independent movement (La Republique En Marche) recently propelled a first-time candidate to the presidency and a near super-majority of parliamentary candidates into office. With a majority of voters holding an unfavorable view of both political parties in the United States, according to Pew Research, many political observers speculate that a similar movement can take hold in America.”
SIX FIGURES FOR MIKA
“Fresh off her spat with President Donald Trump, Mika Brzezinski has landed a three-book deal with Weinstein Books,” notes New York Post columnist Emily Smith.
Is the MSNBC host writing about said spat? Apparently not. Ms. Brzezinski, 50, will receive a deal “in the high six figures,” likely writing about women entrepreneurs, comeback careers and something of interest to the elusive millennial audience.
POLL DU JOUR
• 79 percent of Americans say online companies should address harassment on their platforms.
• 62 percent say online harassment is a “major problem”; 41 percent have personally experienced it.
• 30 percent have intervened when someone else was harassed.
• 27 percent have been called offensive names; 22 percent were subjected to “purposeful embarrassment.”
• 18 percent received physical threats or harassment over a long period.
• 14 percent were harassed because of their politics, 9 percent for physical appearance, 8 percent for race or ethnicity, 8 percent for gender, 5 percent for religion, 3 percent for sexual orientation.
Source: A Pew Research Center American Trends poll of 4,248 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 9-23 and released Tuesday.
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