The Times and Trump: An 'incredible' interview
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Trump, the news machine
The New York Times' President Trump interview – conducted by Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt – was one of those where you could have chosen from three or four potential leads, including their pick of his trashing Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
What about the hint that he'd can Robert Mueller if he started looking into his family's finances? Or comments on health care and foreign affairs, including a weird stretch during the 50 minutes on his holding the hand of the French president and a desire to perhaps hold a French-style military parade in Washington?
Or Ivanka Trump showing up in the Oval Office with her six-year-old daughter – and the president prodding the kid to show off her Chinese to the reporters?
The transcript shows that it was at times very weird, even bizarre but unavoidably revealing freestyling that included pseudo-historical parentheticals like his claim that Napoleon Bonaparte didn't invade Russia "because he had extracurricular activities." Or his take on the Russian army's greatness in the cold. What was that all about?!
Now, in case you're wondering, here's a Trump vs. Obama interview comparison at this point in their presidencies, thanks to CBS News' Mark Knoller:
Trump: 48 (Fox News, surprise, snaring 13, well more than anybody else).
As for a breakdown, Knoller notes that Trump has now granted four to the same Times he routinely bashes, three for Reuters, two for the Financial Times, two for the Washington Examiner, one for The Washington Post, one for the Wall Street Journal, one for Breitbart, one for the Economist, one for the Washington Times and one for Bloomberg, among others.
The morning babble
"Trump & Friends" and "Morning Joe" opened with the medical news about John McCain, while CNN's "New Day" went with the big Times interview of Trump, with reporter Haberman essentially annotating the remarkable session in which she took part (and offering various cautionary notes on how to interpret certain lines).
"He has a certain view of his accomplishments," she said, ever so diplomatically in discussing the seeming disjoint between performance and public opinion, on one hand, and his self-image, on the other.
"My takeaway, and again this may prove wrong, is that whenever Donald Trump is sort of this calm, or seeming at peace – and the disparity between his level of visible anxiety or agita and some on his staff is pretty wide, it's a big gap – he seemed as if he has some sense of what he's going to do with this presidency, what he's going to do with this White House. he has some plan in his own mind – he may not have read anyone in on it yet– but he seems to know where he's going."
It is a rather "incredible" interview, as MSNBC's Mike Barnicle readily conceded when "Morning Joe" turned to chewing over yet another Times or Washington Post exclusive that will provide the sum and substance of cable news programming (and MSNBC did so with the help of the Times' Schmidt).
Seeking the worst restaurant name in America
It's food journalism at its worst. Or, better put, food journalism at its best – or somewhere in the middle – seeking the worst.
Eater.com was into Day Three yesterday of its "Name of Groans," its March Madness-like attempt to find "the most truly awful restaurant names out there." The 32 contestants all came via readers and the Final Four already included Thelonious Monkfish and Pink Taco.
The latest contenders were (in alphabetical order and with all punctuation and capitalization correct) "a(Muse.) (Rehoboth Beach, Delaware), COUNTER 3.Five.VII (Austin, Texas), Hashtag Poki (Berkeley, California), I Luv Cheese (Clinton, Michigan), MAST' (Boston), Mooo.... (Boston), T'ahpas 529 (Melrose, Massachusetts), and Think? (San Pedro, California).
In the first match-up, between a)Muse.) and MAST', Eater's droll assessment begins, "These restaurants are the equivalent of the girls you went to middle school with who changed their names to be more original — it’s spelled Jesykaa, not Jessica, thanks — once they started shopping at Hot Topic. "
In a face-off between T’ahpas 529 and COUNTER 3.five.VII, the analysis is, "T'ahpas 529 is at least kind of useful as a descriptive name, but is it also some kind of obscure direct-object-having French verb conjugation? Je t’aime — wait, no, actually, I meant je t’ahpas. At least its numbers are all numerals: At COUNTER, the style varies digit to digit in a way that’s just over-the-top unacceptable – each number written using a different representative system! At least all its characters are able to translate to social media handles exactly as styled, though."
Ultimately, this bracket came down to a final between a(MUSE.) and Mooo.... The winner? It was Mooo.... Chalk it up to "its improper spelling and ellipses," though the chief judge makes clear she thinks that was the wrong call and personally would have gone with a(MUSE.). The competition continues Thursday and ends Friday.
"The Public Information Officer for the Nevada Department of Corrections has told LawNewz that The Daily Mail's report that O.J. Simpson received a disciplinary write-up for masturbating in his cell is inaccurate."
"'It’s total fake news. There is no truth to it,' the PIO told us." (LawNewz)
Meanwhile, here's what you need to know about his parole hearing Thursday.
Why self-driving cars not going mainstream (soon)
It's not security holding back self-driving cars, it's the state of artificial intelligence, says Comma.ai's George Hotz, who gained teenage fame in hacking the iPhone, in an interview with Cheddar, the fine new financial outlet for millennials.
Given the brain cancer now diagnosed, some of it was quite off the mark, including at least two experts saying it was a good sign that he'd gone home after the surgery. "Happily, it sounds like he's out quickly and doing very well," one told NPR.
A big media advertiser who loves Trump
"Like his preferred political candidate, specialty pillow mogul Michael Lindell loved larger-than-life business claims." (The Daily Beast)
Lindell, an ardent Donald Trump supporter, is the inventor of MyPillow, a foam pillow purported to treat a range of medical issues, from sleep apnea to fibromyalgia. The pillow, which has aggressively promoted Trump on its official Twitter account, has more in common with the politician than meets the eye. In the latest of an onslaught of lawsuits, MyPillow agreed to a $1 million settlement this week, after the company was accused of promising over-the-top health benefits it couldn’t possibly hope to deliver.
In defense of Ann Coulter
"I rise in defense of Ann Coulter," writes Bloomberg columnist Joe Nocera (former New York Times mainstay).
"Well, okay, not exactly. The conservative firebrand’s 'I hate Delta' Twitter tantrum over the weekend, after she was moved from an extra-legroom aisle seat she had booked and paid for, was unquestionably over the top. For ugly starters, she tweeted out (to her 1.6 million followers!) a snapshot of the woman who took 'her' seat, a woman who had really done nothing wrong."
But he can relate to her problem, then declaring, "I am convinced, though, that this fairly common problem has a fairly straightforward fix. It requires two things. The first is government regulation. (Sorry, Ms. Coulter.) The second requirement is that the airlines need to start thinking about their seats in a different way—the way we passengers think about them. My fix, by the way, will also solve a secondary problem, overbooking." (Bloomberg)
The media and Black Lives Matter
David French's National Review critique very much heeds its headline, "Media, Tell the Truth: The Women’s March and Black Lives Matter Embrace Terrorists."
"Mainstream media coverage of both organizations has been fawning, and their leaders have been subject to heroic profiles. As a result, millions of well-intentioned, reasonable liberals have been duped into supporting and elevating both groups..."
Answering the call
Trump-loving online radio host Bill Mitchell tweeted the question, "When looking at polls, ask yourself this - who answers a call from an 'unknown number' at dinner time and talks to a stranger for an hour?"
Keith Olbermann responded, "Oh I know I know...Trump? Thinking it's Putin?"
The allure of long videos
"Contrary to your Instagram feeds, longer video tends to drive higher engagement." (Adweek)
A study by TwentyThree, a video marketing automation platform, studied more than 1.5 million videos and "found that videos can, and should, last longer than 90 seconds if publishers want to see higher engagement rates. While 80 percent of videos are under five minutes, they drive less than a third of overall video engagement. Mid-form and long-form videos, which are at least 15 minutes long, drive over half of all video engagement despite encompassing just 8 percent of all video."