A GRAY SOFA IN MY LIVING ROOM — “Are we in the media overanalyzing President Trump’s statements and stories? Should we be analyzing him as a novelist?”
Yeah, let’s analyze if we are overanalyzing. How absurd is that?
“Look, enemy of the people does have a Stalin-like connotation,” host Brian Stelter says. “If the president doesn’t know that, surely someone has told him by now.”
“More and more, I think ‘hate movement’ is the proper term for what is going on,” he continues.
Brian says he borrowed this phrase from New York University’s geekiest journalism Prof Jay Rosen, who said it a year ago. Rosen got on The New Yorker writer Susan Glasser’s case this week for saying she was astonished and paralyzed by the President’s words about the media. Rosen snapped that she should stop being surprised and acknowledge that we are ‘at war’ with Trump.
Brian teases that the show is going to do something it doesn’t normally do. Which is that they’re going to play a hate-filled phone message about him.
THIS IS SO EXCITING.
My head hurt when I saw his first guests, who turned out to be the predominant pundits for the entire hour. They were fleeting White House Comms Director Anthony Scaramucci and former Clinton White House press secretary Jay Lockhart. Lockhart isn’t irritating, but Scaramucci? His 15 minutes expired around the time he appeared on “Dr. Phil” earlier in the year with his wife whom he left to campaign with then-candidate Donald Trump while she was giving birth to their child. He texted her a note of congratulations.
Brian doesn’t ask Scaramucci the obvious question he should ask: What does he think of Donald Trump Jr.’s romance with ex-Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle? Is he happy for the new Washington power couple?
“They’re not the enemy,” Scaramucci concedes when Brian asks if the media is the enemy of the people. DING. DING. DING. These are the words Brian was waiting to hear.
“When you use the word enemy it means you’re at war with people,” Mooch says. “…Listen, I mean, he’s [Trump] upset because if you look at the Harvard study, …the bias there its about 90 percent against the president and he’s a counter puncher. …I think it’s just wrong, guys. I support the President.”
Scaramucci slipped in a dig at longtime foe Steve Bannon, who he said dropped the phrased “opposition party” for the media a year ago at CPAC. Bannon never wanted The Mooch in the White House and protested his hire from the start.
“I think witch hunt sets peoples’ hair on fire, Brian, those of us who have hair,” Scaramucci says, seeming to notice what he said after he said it.
Brian smiles and twists his thick neck to try to see his own bald head.
CNN’s chyron: “TRUMP’S HATE MOVEMENT AGAINST THE MEDIA.”
Finally Brian reports some media news on CNN’s media show. CBS’s “60 Minutes” boss “Jeff Fager will not return to work, as planned.” He will remain on vacation after reports of unwanted advances toward female employees at CBS.
“Just a few days ago he told me he’d be back,” Brian says.
Good — some reporting.
But let’s get back to the President’s lies. “We have a president who is incapable of telling the truth,” Lockhart says. “As a White House press secretary, even with an honest president, is very very hard. You’re balancing the interests of the president’s political fortunes with press and the public’s right to know things.”
Lockhart says White House Press Secretaries Sarah Sanders and Sean Spicer have both crossed the line. He says they’ve adapted the philosophy, “If the president lies, then I can lie.”
Scaramucci disagrees with Lockhart on Sanders. “She’s very different from Sean Spicer…literally like night and day,” he says, poking at another enemy — Spicer — who quit when Mooch was hired, saying Scaramucci wasn’t qualified and didn’t have the skill set to work in the White House.
Scaramucci finally says something sensible — he doesn’t agree with what Trump is saying about a basketball star. “LeBron James is a great America success story,” he says. “He has been a great role model to all of America.”
Trump isn’t racist, Mooch says. He calls everyone stupid — “black, white, green, yellow and red.”
Brian announces that Trump called three black people stupid this weekend: NBA Lakers star LeBron James, CNN’s Don Lemon, and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).
Scaramucci reminds everyone that he knows Trump personally and he’s a combative guy.
“He called three black people stupid this weekend,” Brian counters. “I didn’t see him call any green or red people stupid.”
So what’s it like for reporters to attend Trump rallies?
On the program is Margaret Talev, senior White House correspondent, Bloomberg. “I have actually felt afraid to be with the press pool,” she says. “…The job of a journalist is to be an impartial observer and synthesizes things so readers can make a judgment. Journalists are there to tell America a story.”
Hmmm…..is Brian impartial? Does he synthesize things so watchers can make a judgement?
The aforementioned Glasser is also on the show today. She’s here to talk about the President’s lies, which was the subject of her column this week. “In my view, these misstatements and untruths are connected with his political story,” she says.
I’m still on pins and needles waiting for Brian to play the hate call. It’s 11:41 a.m. Is he going to keep his word and play it?
As if the point hadn’t been drilled down throughout the show, NYT op-ed columnist David Leonhardt is on to say that Trump wants a “monopoly on information.” He wants the ability to lie, he says, to make up stories about Russia and crowd size.
Here it comes. It’s audio of someone threatening Brian and another anchor. Brian says it’s coming after the commercial break.
“CNN has a great security team and we know how to handle this stuff,” he assures.
On Friday, “Don from Pennsylvania” called into CSPAN: “Brian Stelter and Don Lemon call Trump supporters all racists. They don’t even know us. They’re calling us racists because we voted for Trump? Come on give me a break. They started the war. If I see ‘em I’m gonna shoot ‘em. Bye.”
Brian says he never called all Trump supporters racists, neither has Lemon. He blamed Fox News’s Sean Hannity for playing a two-year-old clip of him on Thursday night asking if racial anxiety is a factor in Trump’s rise.
The Fox News host and Trump BFF and CNN media host have sparred frequently, but Brian says he’s not blaming Hannity.
“I just thought the timing was odd,” Brian says, loudly hinting that the violent caller likely watched Hannity’s program Thursday night.