Can journalists handle both Kavanaugh, Rosenstein stories on Thursday?

September 25, 2018
Category: Newsletters

Washington is in crisis. Monday would have been material for a light operetta if so many lives weren't at stake. The instability, writes Dan Balz, "will affect the coming midterm elections and potentially the future of the Trump presidency."

Here's a quick update on coverage of Rod Rosenstein and Brett Kavanaugh. Rosenstein had a 72-hour reprieve, but both his and Kavanaugh's fate may come to a head Thursday.

First, Kavanaugh:

— The Supreme Court nominee is not entitled to due process, which is a good thing, since most members of the Senate Judicial Committee would have had to recuse themselves for prejudicial comments about Kavanaugh or Christine Blasey Ford, one of the accusers of alleged sexual assault by the nominee. That's according to Robby Soave of Reason.

— The Indianapolis Star apologized to its readers for an editorial cartoon Sunday that depicted Ford as demanding M&Ms, sparkling water and roses from the Judicial Committee. Ford has had her life threatened and had to move her family from her home since alleging she was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh at a party when she was 15. “Our readers deserved better in this case,” the Star's editor, Ronnie Ramos, wrote in a note to readers. (h/t Jill Geisler)

— At least 128 anti-Kavanaugh protesters — many chanting "We believe the women" — were arrested at the Capitol. More protesters converged on Dupont Circle, carrying signs saying "Believe Women" in the rain. On Sunday night, hundreds of people turned out in Palo Alto, California, saying they stood behind Ford. She will be interviewed by the Senate committee Thursday. 

— Hollywood took part in a brief walkout today in solidarity with Ford, with production and writing halted on a number of shows, the L.A. Times's Libby Hill reports. Among those showing support: Kerry Washington, Rachel Bloom and Debbie Allen.

— After the New Yorker report of a second accuser, Kavanaugh said he won't be pressured into quitting. He sat with his family for a friendly Fox News "interview" broadcast Monday night, in which he said he was a virgin in high school "and many years after." Here's Aaron Blake's annotated interview transcript.

— Why talk about being a virgin? To counter references in his high school yearbook, the NYT's Kate Kelly and David Enrich report. A woman named in a cruel yearbook joke, who had earlier vouched for Kavanaugh's character, now tells the NYT: "I pray their daughters are never treated this way."

— A third accuser has passed vetting, attorney Michael Avenatti tells The Guardian.

— Female editorial cartoonists spoke about the similarities between the Kavanaugh nomination and the contentious Thomas confirmation, a key reason that Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Ann Telnaes entered the field. “Women are mad," Telnaes said, "especially those who have been through this before.”

Now, Rosenstein:

The idea that he was quitting or being fired, first reported by Axios, spread concern throughout both parties. Rosenstein oversees the special investigation of Trump and his campaign's ties to America's enemy, Russia, which intervened to influence the election. Here are a few stories:

— Why his fate is so unpredictable, by Michael D'Antonio of The Atlantic.

— If Rosenstein leaves, the solicitor general — whose old law firm is defending Trump — will oversee the Russian investigation, The Hill reports. 

— My separate story on why Ben Folds may have written the timeliest song of his life. “If the law don’t suit the boss,” Folds sings, “this deputy must go." We may find out on Thursday, when Rosenstein and Trump are scheduled to meet.

— Margaret Sullivan's guide on how to stay sane this week. Three tips: 1) Read before you share; 2) Know who is paid to say what on social media (and who is constrained by NDAs from telling you the truth); 3) Take a break every now and then to keep perspective.

Quick hits

CONGRATS, NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES: The investigative reporter for The New York Times Magazine has won the 2018 John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism, Columbia Journalism School announced today. Said Hannah-Jones: “This award is particularly meaningful to me because it is named after John Chancellor in honor of his reporting in Little Rock, Ark., on the battle for school desegregation, a subject for which I have dedicated my life to reporting.”

THE CASE AGAINST RUSSIA: A meticulous forensic investigation of online activity in three 2016 swing states show Russian influence could have swung the presidential election to Trump, The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reports.

BYE BYE INSTAGRAM: Its two founders, occasionally testy toward Facebook since the social network bought their invention, are leaving the company, they told co-workers Monday. No reason was given, the NYT's Mike Isaac reports. The departures come as Facebook faces its most sustained set of challenges in its history.

TAKING CARE OF JOURNALISTS: Mental health should be considered in workplace evaluations and better supported to combat the “macho nature” of a newsroom, the Guardian’s special projects editor, Mark Rice-Oxley, told a seminar. Rice-Oxley also backed the idea of “mental health first aiders” acting as the first port of call for support.

BOUGHT: Pandora, by Sirius XM, for $3.5 billion in stock. The deal will let Sirius XM, with 36 million subscribers in North America, expand beyond cars, the AP reports. Pandora has 70 million active users.

BOUGHT?: Civil is trying to raise money through cryptocurrency token sales to help journalism. But that's been difficult, so Civil is trying to make it easier. Will it make its goal? Nieman Lab's Josh Benton explains.

FROM SCOOP TO JAIL: Greek journalists reported that the defense minister's associates had profited from an EU deal. Then the defense minister filed a complaint — and the publisher and editor-in-chief of the newspaper that published it were detained. (h/t Alexios Mantzarlis)


Want to get this briefing in your inbox every weekday morning? Sign up here.

Got a tip, a link, a suggestion? We’re trying to make this roundup better every day. Please email me at or reach me @dabeard.

Have a good Tuesday.