Jim Comey: The greatest show on earth!
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Experience can justifiably dampen frenzy, especially in a media world given to frequent claims of "breaking news" and "exclusive."
So you could raise an eyebrow or two when checking in with the 24/7 cable news build-up to the latest Capitol Hill spectacle: the Senate testimony of fired FBI Director James Comey.
"Countdown to Comey" was the banner on MSNBC.
"Thursday at 10 a.m.: Comey testifies before Congress: 3 Days,” said CNN, presumably adding the "three days" in case any viewers were characteristically math-deficient grads of a big-city public high school.
"The media are hoping that James Comey delivers what Hillary couldn't — a win for liberalism and a strike against Trump," said Laura Ingraham, the conservative radio host and Fox commentator.
It was thus almost a relief to merely see "combating Islamic terrorism" on Fox. What a soothing diversion!
All four major broadcast networks will air his testimony (which doesn't mandate local affiliates from sticking with it). Washington news bureaus, be they print, digital or TV, will verge on obsession.
Only a nuclear launch by the wacko dictator in North Korea might give journalists pause, albeit briefly (assuming he aimed at Peoria and hit the suburbs of Pyongyang, instead).
On CNN's "New Day" this morning, co-host Chris Cuomo raised the possibility that "folks (may) be disappointed" via either Comey discretion-filled deference toward the Robert Mueller investigation or perhaps by the possibility that "there just wasn't much of a crime."
It would not break any precedent. There have been so very many Hill hearings that were the grand story of the media moment, and an implicit search for wrongdoing, until they just petered out.
I remember sitting through seemingly epic Senate campaign finance hearings during the Clinton era that fizzled. And others since. Build-up can overwhelm what's delivered. I was at times bored during Bill Clinton's impeachment trial and looking down from the Senate gallery to see an equally inattentive Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina reading a magazine profile of himself.
"Much-awaited hearings on Capitol Hill have a way of not living up to expectations," said Michael Duffy, deputy managing editor of Time.
And, yet, "Comey's appearance on Thursday would normally follow that pattern, but the president called him a nut job, so all bets are off this time around."
Except perhaps at Fox, which last evening was beating up on gray-haired and jowly Al Gore for inconsequential comments about a carbon-free lifestyle.
For some, the impeachment hearings and trial of two decades apparently never ended.
A Snap purchase
"Snap has acquired Placed, a Seattle-based ad tech company that specializes in measuring offline sales attribution — that is, detecting whether online ads actually lead to store visits and offline purchases." (Recode)
"Snap, whose stock has languished since it went public, is paying "about $125 million." (Bloomberg)
"Apple is taking aim at Sonos and the Amazon Echo with HomePod, a new “breakthrough home speaker” that it will start selling in December in white and space gray for $349. ...This is a big entry into the home for Apple — a company that notably decided not to ship a TV set. There’s plenty to unpack here." (Recode)
"In the same way the Apple Watch sells fitness as the hook to get a computer strapped on your wrist, HomePod sells music to get a microphone in your home — and for many people, music will be all it gets used for." (NiemanLab)
"By comparison, the HomePod costs $120 more than Amazon's latest touchscreen-sporting Echo Show, $220 more than Alphabet's Google Home and $300 more than the no-frills Echo Dot." (TheStreet)
"So — a cynic might say Apple has just launched the world's most-hyped bluetooth speaker — not much imagination there. But let's face it, before AI and machine learning really matures, most home assistant devices are essentially voice-controlled speakers, and so Apple dedicating its effort into making it sound great is probably a smart move." (BBC)
England "reeling" from terrorism?
If you missed him on his Sunday HBO show, Brit John Oliver said about the media caricature, "Is it upset? Yes. Is it pissed off? Oh, you fucking bet it’s pissed off. But to say it’s under siege and its people are reeling is to say that its people are somehow weak enough to be brought to its knees by three monumental a — holes.” (The Independent)
From David A. Hopkins on the political science blog Honest Graft, while discussing how "resentment politics" makes for lousy policy:
"Wasn't Trump's temperament far from ideal for a national leader? Not to consumers of conservative media, where contempt and outrage are the default emotional states. Didn't Trump demonstrate little command of actual policy issues and elementary concepts? Not to vocal conservative authorities who dismiss reporters and intellectuals as snobby liberal hacks."
Conway's change of tack
So Kellyanne Conway first derided the media "obsession" with the tweets of her boss, then backtracked to concede that, yes, it can't "ignore" them. (Mediaite)
Said CNN's Jake Tapper: "To act as if the media should not pay attention to uncensored statements directly from the President’s brain to his fingertips to the world, via Twitter, that’s laughable.”
"A Breitbart News editor said on Monday that she had been fired from the conservative news site for the anti-Muslim tweets she sent after a terrorist attack in London on Saturday." (The New York Times)
"The editor, Katie McHugh, who has written hundreds of articles for the site since 2015 and previously worked for The Daily Caller, said on Twitter, 'Breitbart News fired me for telling the truth about Islam and Muslim immigration.' A Breitbart News spokesman declined to comment on Monday, leaving the precise reason for her leaving the company unknown."
On Megyn Kelly's fashion
At a pre-dinner cocktail gathering in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Megyn Kelly wore a designer cocktail dress with a high slit. That prompted media to assume (wrongly) that it's what she wore to interview Vladimir Putin. Wrong.
New York Times fashion writer Vanessa Friedman notes, "Ms. Kelly did not wear the cocktail dress for her interview with Mr. Putin: She wore the round-neck black T-shirt with fluted white sleeves, a white belt and white trousers that she wore onstage at the economic forum. She was, in other words, all covered up and understated."
"Indeed, more so, and in a more relaxed way, than she had ever been on Fox News. The vibe was leaning toward the Katharine Hepburn model, rather than the Lana Turner one, which was interesting in itself, and probably says more about how Ms. Kelly is trying to position herself now than the cocktail frock would have revealed."
Farewell after 9,000 columns
Dan Walters signed off at The Sacramento Bee after nearly four decades of covering the California legislature.
"My favorite Capitol characters, however, have been the rogues who plotted, schemed and sometimes fudged enough to get into trouble and even go to prison. One who was infamous for his chicanery, now deceased, would send a box of candy to the office every time I mentioned him unfavorably in print."
"Interestingly, however, the one politician who turned the tables was mild-mannered Gov. George Deukmejian, who threw a party for the Capitol press corps as he departed. He brought in a belly dancer for entertainment and, to my everlasting chagrin, prearranged for her to pull me up to dance with her."
Carrie Underwood scoop
Between periods of NBC's broadcast of the Stanley Cup game between Nashville and Pittsburgh, singer Carrie Underwood, who's married to Nashville player Mike Fisher, admitted that she'd not gotten him anything for his birthday yesterday. It will wait until after the playoffs, she said.
Bob Dylan meets his deadline
It's lucky Dylan doesn't work for the AP. He belatedly surfaces with his acceptance speech for his Nobel Prize for Literature, taped apparently in a studio, and actually just meeting the prize deadline.
Better late than never. It's about 20 minutes, just on audio, and engrossing, starting with his fascination with Buddy Holly and the other influences that shaped him as a kid in Minnesota. (The Guardian)
The morning babble
"Fox & Friends" went whole hog with "Face of the 'Resistance'" on the young NSA contractor accused of espionage by sending a classified report to The Intercept. And, of course, on fighting terrorism.
CNN's "New Day" went down that path briefly, then moving to the Comey interview (lucky us, "New Day" will begin an hour early, at 5 a.m. Eastern Thursday). CNN’s Chris Cillizza juxtaposed the notion of an assault against the U.S. by a foreign government with what appears to be the defensive and self-centered Trump reaction that driven by his inference that anything about Russian meddling suggests he didn't win the election fairly.
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" was unfettered in its general Trump derision, with Joe Scarborough and ad executive Donny Deutsch serving as license-less shrinks by suggesting "Trump is beset by "a personality disorder," and adding "this is so unbalanced, he is not well."
It also should again send residuals to The New York Times as it relied heavily on a Peter Baker-Maggie Haberman story on Trump chagrin/a> with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Assault on free speech
Jeffrey Herbst, chief executive of the Newseum and University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone combine in The Chronicle of Higher Education to deride recent movements on campuses to deny speaking platforms to the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos at Berkeley, Heather Mac Donald at Claremont McKenna and Charles Murray at Middlebury.
Ads decline on the right
Perhaps it's no shock, given the greater anger-driven anti-Trump viewership and readership inspired on the left, but those on the right are suffering ad declines. (Digiday)
Riding high not long ago, "Breitbart is facing traffic declines, advertiser blacklists, campaigns for marketers to steer clear and even a petition within Amazon for it to stop providing ad services."
"There were just 26 brands appearing on Breitbart in May, down from a high of 242 in March, according to MediaRadar, which tracks ads on websites. Many conservative sites, including Townhall, The Blaze and National Review, have also had declines, although those declines are much less pronounced than Breitbart, according to MediaRadar."
A sense of context
Historian Michael Beschloss send out a copy of a D-Day 1944 Franklin Roosevelt note to Winston Churchill on "stupendous events" on this day in 1944. It probably dwarfs the Trump-Comey discussions. (@BeschlossDC)
Nice work in Axios
"Who's feeling the pressure with the Senate healthcare bill" takes the Senate's 52 Republicans and looks at how the uninsured rate changed in their state as a result of Obamacare.
Did they expand Medicaid? How many citizens of the state gained coverage? And when will those Senators face reelection? Simple and smart idea. (Axios)