June 27, 2016

Cable news started its week with an abundance of live riches and a quandary: Cover Britain’s exit or Elizabeth Warren’s arrival?

In the end, CNN, Fox and MSNBC initially offered a bit of a video buffet, at least until their final preference for a Warren-Hillary Clinton coming out in Cincinnati was clear — and leaving C-SPAN2 to satisfy those viewers with a more international news craving.

But the morning began with the rhetorical singularity of British parliamentary democracy as Prime Minister David Cameron addressed and answered loads of questions — no, more than loads — from the House of Commons about the Brexit vote that’s doomed his administration.

It all started at 10:30 a.m. and didn’t conclude until half past noon. There’s no American counterpart to what played out: supporters and opponents volleying comments the way of Cameron, who exhibited improbable good cheer in the face of an ignominious political defeat that’s prompted his plan to resign.

He faced about every single question one could imagine during a government crisis that belied the civility on display — queries involving immigration, jobs, financial services, Scottish independence, future of this commission, that commission, the whole essence of relations with Europe, you name it.

One of dozens of combo speakers-interrogators was Ian Murray, a member of Cameron’s Labor opposition from Edinburgh, Scotland, who said his constituents are scared about the vote’s ramifications on their jobs, especially those in the financial sector.

In a refrain heard often, Cameron said that the complex negotiations to come with the European Union must assure that those constituents still have access to a single European market. But that will be his successor’s challenge, since he’d made clear he wouldn’t oversee such talks after drawing a line in the sand with his call to remain in the EU.

“We’ve held the referendum, the country has made the decision,” he said. “We took a choice to ask the people this very big question.”

The showboating that one finds in Congress, notably during House debates, was in scant evidence. Plus, there was the contrast to last week’s House feuding over cameras during the Democrats’ sit-in protest after the House had adjourned.

Yes, there was live video but the also the vibrant reality of the Commons chambers having multiple microphones that bring sounds of griping and side comments throughout the chamber.

You don’t get that in Congress, given the majority party’s control of cameras and mics. Both parties have made sure viewers can rarely hear such reactions.

A split screen could initially be seen on several of the networks as Cameron was speaking. But then CNN, Fox and MSNBC opted for Warren-Clinton in Cincinnati — even if the theatrics of the appearance largely ornamented rote speeches that both have given often, especially Clinton.

It was left to C-SPAN2 to carry on for the entire two hours and nine minutes from London, even as Cameron’s immediate audience thinned. After all, England was soon to play a big game against tiny Iceland in the big European soccer championships. Government crises have their limits.

While CNBC and MSNBC would turn exclusively to Warren sharing a stage with Clinton in Ohio, Fox tired and went to some initial pundit response.

That included Karine Jean-Pierre, a former aide to the failed presidential candidate Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland. She made an articulate case for what seems the unlikely selection of Warren as Clinton’s running mate.

The predictable Fox rejoinder came from a member of the cable news army of individuals labeled a political “strategist,” in this case Lisa Boothe. It reminded me how it would be refreshing for cable news to append biographical information detailing the actual campaigns such individuals have worked on, as well as their track records.

Absent that, one was left with Boothe saying that Republicans would love such a Clinton-Warren ticket. They are both “dishonest,” she said, and the duo would preclude any Clinton chance to lure Donald Trump-disaffected GOP voters.

On CNN, Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash found the Ohio event a manifestation of the Democrats being more unified than the Republicans.

But, she wondered, where was Bernie Sanders? Why wasn’t he on that stage? As she, and others reiterated, he’s yet to formally endorse Clinton yet. Bash contended that he’s “missed his moment.”

That was not of apparent relevance to Fox, which had simply tired of the joint appearance, and with some justification. Clinton largely repeated her stump speech, including the monotonous refrain of responding to Trump’s derision of her playing “the woman card.”

If fighting for women’s rights is playing a woman card, she said for the upteenth time, “DEAL ME IN!!!” Once again, the partisan choir to which she spoke erupted in applause.

On MSNBC, the main themes of the mutually-congratulatory Warren and Clinton orations were repeated and saluted by a post-speech observer, former Michigan Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Her adulation was only briefly sidetracked by host Tamron Hall, who noted that Clinton has been seen by some to be in bed with Wall Street and not necessarily the agent for populist change described by Granholm.

It was a very reasonable question to which she didn’t really respond.

“Yes,” said Granholm, with a pregnant pause. She quickly segued to what she deemed were real “policies” that, in her mind, suggest she will “be tough on Wall Street.”

Well, if you had C-SPAN2, there was always Cameron and Brexit.

But even he pulled up stakes, amid a largely empty chamber, well in time to watch England lose to Iceland. And, imagine, he’d missed the Warren-Clinton extravaganza.

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New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S.…
James Warren

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