UNDER THE COVERS – Am I blind? I’m pretty sure CNN “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter got a haircut since I saw him on last week’s program. And he barely has hair. Or a neck for that matter. But let’s put those mean, petty things aside for now.
Brian’s cold open is him insulting one of his infamous media enemies – Fox News’s Sean Hannity, who, yes, is pretty douchey in his own right.
“Let’s be honest,” Brian says, which makes me immediately doubt whatever words are coming after. “This week Sean Hannity won and the rest of America lost,” Brian says, explaining that we need to give Hannity credit where its due for giving a megaphone to GOP.
Hannity reported that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation is over. Which of course it is not. Hannity said the “abuse of power” is far worse than Watergate. But he’s not talking about his BFF Trump. The Trump lover is talking about the FBI and the investigators.
Brian says this week’s “memo” from Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) hands the “Hannitys of the world” and Trump an “alternative reality.”
This somehow reminds Brian of an old, ridiculously cliché schoolyard taunt (eye roll).
“I’m rubber, YOU’RE glue. Whatever YOU say bounces off me and sticks to YOU.”
I can’t believe we have to sit here and listen to this.
Brian says Hannity’s ratings are way up, but he says this is bad for the country. No one is forcing viewers to watch Hannity. But somehow Brian sees it that way.
And then the worst happens: The Baltimore Sun’s media “critic” David Zurawik is suddenly on the show and my eardrums are destroyed as my soul feels crushed by the dramatic rise in volume of this man’s ridiculously loud voice. Can’t the network turn him down? Why do we have to be subjected to a man who has no volume control week in and week out?
“I AGREE WITH THE PREMISE TOTALLY,” Zurawik shouts. “I AM SHOCKED THAT THE TRACTION THIS HANNITY NARRATIVE HAS GOTTEN. …WHEN YOU SEE [Sen.] RON JOHNSON ….OUT THERE TALKING WE HAVE AN INFORMANT…THAT’S A LOOP THAT GOES FROM HANNITY TO SOMEONE LIKE JOHNSON AND THE PRESIDENT.”
Brian interjects to say that Hannity is a presidential advisor.
As usual, Zurawik is Brian’s yes man. “EXACTLY,” he yells, buttering up the host.
CNN’s Hadas Gold is here today. She looks all Hollywood glam, with a black blazer that exposes a plunging neckline and wavy locks that make her look like she got the Cosmo-Mai Tai at Blowdry Bar.
She says that the memo going to Trump-friendly outlets doesn’t make the thing more credible.
Yahoo News’s Chief Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff is also on the panel. He’s a reporter’s reporter. The shoe leather kind with a mop of gray hair. So he’s not going to just readily agree with Brian like that idiotic cow, Zurawik.
“The problem with the memo is its so selective and obviously incomplete that it’s hard to know what the bottom line takeaway should be,” he says, sounding far more intelligent than ZURAWIK, who’s getting ready to LOUDLY reveal any other kernels of thought stumbling around in his brain cavity.
Next: Brian wants confirmation from Isikoff that he is not crazy, that Trump and Hannity and company are trying to move the country away from the Russia probe.
Isikoff basically replies, no shit, yeah. “I think that’s obvious, isn’t it?” he asks in response.
Brian blows out a sigh of relief that an actual reporter like Isikoff seems to have given him a pat on the back.
“There’s gonna be a reckoning at the end of the day,” Isikoff says, saying Mueller will release a report.
While Brian emits a bunch of opinion turds, saying Trump is engaging in a coverup, Isikoff remains neutral.
“I THINK WE ARE IN AN INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS PLACE RIGHT NOW,” Zurawik is shouting at us. “…I WAS OFF THIS WEEK SO I GOT TO WATCH IT LIKE A CITIZEN…IT SCARED ME!!!!”
Someone should give Zurawik a pacifier.
And then Brian says the words that make me cringe. He says goodbye to Isikoff and Gold and then says, “David, stick around.” Which means we’re not done with Zurawik for today. (Excuse me while I put a fist through a wall and look for my hot pink earplugs.)
President Trump buddy Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy is on the show. The lucky dog is being patched in from Boynton Beach, Fla. “I think the President is doing some amazing stuff and he’s feeling it,” he says.
Ruddy is infuriating for Brian because he won’t agree with him and he will not bash Trump no matter what he says.
“The Trump tower meeting was not a crime,” Ruddy says. “It was not collusion. It was just a meeting to find out information.”
“We don’t know that for sure,” Brian shoots back.
Brian fake evil laughs at everything Ruddy says. Ruddy keeps telling Brian to show him the evidence. Brian says there are “two narratives” about what happened.
Does he offer evidence?
Finally, he bursts out the following: “I would love for Robert Mueller’s investigation to come out tomorrow.”
Brian tells Ruddy it’s great to see him and he can’t wait to have him back on the show. Ruddy looks forward to Brian offering any “evidence of collusion.”
The Atlantic’s Julia Ioffe has arrived in a pretty muted mustard-hued blazer.
The CNN chyron is blaring “One Country, Two Narratives.”
Brian wants to know if Julia thinks Ruddy is right, that there is no evidence of collusion.
“Show me the evidence while I constantly interrupt you,” she says, mocking Newsmax’s CEO.
“That’s okay,” Brian says softly.
This is a little baffling. Ruddy really didn’t interrupt Ruddy. Despite disagreeing with each other, they had a polite exchange.
“I think we stay true to the facts,” she says.
Ioffe explains that Fox News, Breitbart News, and Infowars are “pushing a dishonest narrative.” On the other side, she says, the media – you know, people like herself and Brian – are pushing the truth.
Give me a fucking break. Brian Stelter is not politically motivated against this White House? Of course he is.
“Well, gotta keep trying,” Brian says, obviously agreeing with her praise of him. How big of him.
As usual, Brian saves an actual media story for late in the show that is supposed to be about the media. He has trotted out Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan to talk about the chaos reigning down in the LA Times newsroom.
“The Los Angeles Times was owned for a long time by the Chandler family,” she explains. “The ownership of newspapers in big cities has gone to corporations. …Newspapers are not owned by people in their own communities and that is a bad thing.”
Brian clearly doesn’t read WaPo much – just yesterday he admits he had to look up his password.
But he says subscribing is the answer to what Sullivan says is journalism’s biggest problem these days, which is corporations buying up local papers.
Brian spends the remainder of his show dumping on Trump’s “bogus boast” about his State of the Union address.
“The facts are the facts,” he says. “The ratings were strong. They just weren’t a record.”
He talks about an exchange with a White House aide in which the aide insisted that Trump was right about his booming ratings.
Brian says Trump’s lie makes a person wonder about all the other stuff Trump is lying about.
Damn it. Zurawik is back.
“AS YOU JUST SHOWED, IF THE NUMBERS AREN’T GOOD, TRUMP WILL SAY THEY WERE THE GREATEST EVER,” he says, offering fresh praise for Brian’s segment.
And that’s a wrap.