RAINY, FOGGY WASHINGTON, D.C. — “Does the public understand just how much trouble the president is in? If not, that’s a failing of the press.”
This is CNN’s highly biased senior media reporter Brian Stelter starting off his Sunday show with a typical mind-numbing lecture to viewers.
“From my vantage point, I think the press needs to redouble its effort, to zooooom out, wayyyy out, to make sure the bigger picture isn’t being clouded by the hourly and daily developments,” he says, being as irritating as possible so he can interrupt my holiday shopping and ruin one hour of my Sunday.
He plays a snippet of SNL‘s “Weekend Update” segment from Colin Jost and lets out a weird fake laugh — eyes not smiling, but a “eh huh huh” coming out of his mouth.
This is going to feel long and agonizing. The first all-star panel is here. There’s CNN contributor and The Nation’s National Affairs Correspondent and CNN Commentator Joan Walsh on the show. She is hyper annoying. Conservative commentator and senior Daily Beast columnist Matt Lewis is a former co-worker who I happen to like. So there’s that disclosure. And next to him is tie-less Will Bunch, who is a national columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Bunch looks like he needs a long, hot shower and warm cream shave from The Grooming Lounge. But whatever, it’s kind of nice to have a scrappy-looking journo on the show today that isn’t all made up.
Thankfully Walsh isn’t wearing her gargantuan TV power jewelry. She has on simple silver hoops. A bare neck and deep-v chocolate brown dress (or top) — I can’t see her lower half. None of this makes her any less annoying. But at least she didn’t visually assault viewers today with her jewelry.
Walsh talks down to Brian, saying he’s not old enough to remember a “Nightline” type of show that could lay out all of President Trump‘s scandals. “Oh come on,” Stelter replies, laughing. She says we could have a midnight roundup of all the accusations against Trump. Listen, I’m all for her talking down to Stelter, but dumbass Joan sounds like a complete idiot — “Nightline” has been around since 1979 and still exists on ABC. Anyone in journalism has heard of it — even Stelter.
“I’m glad you gave credit to my old friend Rachel Maddow,” she says, taking a moment to smooch her liberal friend and thank Brian for playing a brief Rachel clip.
A quick balding count for today’s show — two balding men, and two full heads of hair — Walsh and Lewis. We will monitor this throughout the show in case the count changes.
Lewis warns conservative reporters that if they “fall for some spin coming out of the White House that this is all a witch hunt,” they’re going to ruin their reputations.
Bunch makes a totally different point: “I think the biggest electoral conspiracy in American history has already been laid out there. It’s hiding in plain sight. The bombshell is the details we already know.”
Brace yourselves. We’re actually going to talk about journalism — specifically the shuttering of 23-year-old conservative pub The Weekly Standard. Lewis concedes that Trump bashing and the Iraq War are not popular topics among conservatives, but insists The Washington Examiner isn’t carrying water for Trump. He won’t give Trump credit for the mag’s death.
“To me the real story is actually a media story,” Lewis says. “I just think ….I don’t think the free market can support quality, serious conservative writing. …Do you have pictures of Kate Upton riding on a horse to get people to clock on your story? …You need a billionaire who is willing to put out a political philosophy …but isn’t going to generate the revenue?”
Michael Rothfeld, a reporter for the WSJ, is on the show. He’s from the team of WSJ reporters who broke stories about Trump’s hush money schemes involving the aptly named David Pecker, CEO of American Media, which owns the National Enquirer. As reported by the AP, that the National Enquirer still may have a safe of Trump stories that were killed. Also among these stories: The Enquirer finally confesses to ‘catch and kill.’
Stelter and CNN are intent on turning Trump’s scandals into Watergate. “Do you feel like you’re uncovering something that has echoes of Watergate that has echoes of the Nixon presidency?” the host asks like an excited child.
Rothfeld replies, “It certainly felt like we were chasing a very big scandal, it’s very exciting, you know, just kind of leading straight to the president and these vociferous denials from the president’s aides.”
Classic Stelter. He doesn’t have an intelligent response. But you hear a low “hmmmmmmmmmm” coming from his throat. Why say anything if you’re going to say that? Just let the expert keep talking and do not make these noises.
Next topic: Should Trump Counselor Kellyanne Conway even be allowed on TV? It’s a debate that isn’t new — in 2017, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” banned her from the show because, according to co-host Mika Scarborough, she is “not credible.”
As of late, Kellyanne has been on CNN Chris Cuomo‘s primetime show, where she spars with the host and calls him “Christopher.” This past week she spent 39 minutes on one of his shows.
CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy is now on the panel and Joan Walsh is still, unfortunately, hanging around. “It’s very clear that when she does come on, she’s aiming to deflect and deceive the audience,” Darcy says. “I think that’s the problem.”
Darcy is pretty disdainful about CNN allowing Kellyanne to dominate Cuomo’s show for “40 minutes.”
“It went on for a long time,” Joan says before sucking up to Cuomo and CNN. “Highest props [to Cuomo] for the way he handled her.”
Stelter raises the issue of Mika Scarborough calling Sec. of State Mike Pompeo “a wannabe dictator’s butt boy” because of his lukewarm response to Jamal Khasshogi‘s murder on “Fox & Friends.” Stelter called it a “homophobic slur” and never said what she actually said. He did play a clip of her apology.
Stelter wants to know if the press “let her off the hook.”
Joan sort of defends Mika, saying, “It’s a terrible phrase….but she’s not known as a homophobe.”
Brian agrees: “It’s not part of a pattern.”
As usual, all of Stelter’s guests nauseatingly agree with him.