How Did This Happen?

For those of us lucky to be awake Tuesday night, for the semi-frequent late-night Twitter outburst from President Donald Trump, we received the gift of “covfefe.” Yes, Trump’s attempt to type the word “coverage” went somewhat awry, giving the Twitter wags a good chuckle before winking out for a good night’s sleep. You had the funny feeling that there would be a high-level meeting the next morning to “spin” this misspelling as a masterstroke of political letters (and that is apparently what happened), but that would surely be that. Right?
Wrong! Sometime between Trump’s tweet and the next morning, a think piece was penned, positioning “covfefe” as the unified field theorem of Donald Trump. Who wrote it? You know who wrote it. The man who writes the takes that make the whole world groan: New CNN hire Chris Cillizza.

This story is really super important to Continue reading "How Did This Happen?"

The Seth Rich Conspiracy Theory Is Emblematic Of The Trump Era

Seth Rich, a young Democratic National Committee staffer who lived in Washington, died tragically on July 10 of last year, shot to death in what looked for all the world to be a botched robbery attempt. That’s the story, and this story ― while not being unimportant by any means ― should have been confined to local news and local authorities investigating the crime.
But that’s not what happened.
Instead, the family and friends that Rich left behind have seen their grief magnified as a result of a gallingly persistent bit of fake news. Rumors, hatched in some of the internet’s dodgier redoubts, were provided a megaphone by irresponsible right-wing media organizations ― most notably Fox News ― leading to a week of dubious, unhinged reporting that tortured Rich’s family members Continue reading "The Seth Rich Conspiracy Theory Is Emblematic Of The Trump Era"

Easiest Fact Check Ever: Trump’s Claim That No Politician Has Had It Worse

Semper Paratus, the Latin phrase on the parade standard of the U.S. Coast Guard, loosely translates as “always ready.” But just how prepared could this year’s graduates of the Coast Guard Academy have been for a commencement address from their commander-in-chief, President Donald Trump?
Actually, considering that he ended up giving yet another proto-campaign speech in which he bragged about his electoral triumph, I’d wager “very.” This is the same speech Trump always gives, whether he’s addressing the Coast Guard or ordering a Coke.
Nevertheless, there was one indelible moment in Trump’s remarks to America’s next generation of Coasties. It came during the traditional part of his oratory that we might as well start calling “The Airing of Grievances”:

Over the course of your life, you will Continue reading "Easiest Fact Check Ever: Trump’s Claim That No Politician Has Had It Worse"

Apparently Some People Think Trump’s Biggest Problem Is His Communications Team

On Monday, after The Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump had revealed “highly” classified “code word information” to Russia’s foreign minister and its ambassador to the United States ― potentially jeopardizing an “intelligence-sharing arrangement” with a foreign ally ― Adrian Carrasquillo of BuzzFeed News added a dose of color about the unfolding chaos:

Carrasquillo went on to report that White House communications staffers “put the TV’s on super loud” to drown out the sounds of the unfolding argument. That’s big news, in that it’s one of the first times the Trump White House has demonstrated that they have protocols they’re capable of carrying out without pratfalling all over the room.
Of course, incensed shouting matches have been par for the course in the brief life of this administration. But if Continue reading "Apparently Some People Think Trump’s Biggest Problem Is His Communications Team"

I’m Starting To Worry About Ivanka Trump’s ‘Moderating Influence’

This week, President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, a controversial move that raised questions about whether the president’s decision was akin to President Richard Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre ― in which Nixon fired the person (special prosecutor Archibald Cox) who was investigating his White House. The move has also dealt a blow to White House adviser and “first daughter” Ivanka Trump, who’s been widely proclaimed as precisely the sort of person who’d have the power to steer her father away from this kind of risky move.
But as The Washington Post has reported, Trump’s elder daughter critically made no attempt to exert her sway over her father:

Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, and her husband, Jared Kushner — both of whom work in the White House — have frequently tried to blunt Trump’s riskier impulses but did not intervene to try to persuade him against firing Comey, according Continue reading "I’m Starting To Worry About Ivanka Trump’s ‘Moderating Influence’"

Flashback To That Time The Media Was Certain The Comey Letter Was A 2016 Game-Changer

On April 22, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver tweeted a link to a story he’d written back in November, remarking for his followers, “The case that the Comey letter ― or the media’s handling of the letter ―cost Clinton the election is painfully obvious.” He ended up taking some stick for it. So much so that he was incensed enough to lay out his case in greater detail in a May 3rd piece titled “The Comey Letter Probably Cost Clinton The Election.” It was basically an essay length explication of a simple premise he’d previously tweeted: “Not complicated. Clinton was up by a lot. Comey letter hits. Treated as massive story. Suddenly she was up by not-a-lot. She loses narrowly.” Silver provided his receipts.
The same day, former Continue reading "Flashback To That Time The Media Was Certain The Comey Letter Was A 2016 Game-Changer"

I Volunteer To Go To France For A Month To Understand Macron Voters

Over the weekend, the French people shocked tout le monde by not electing an insane woman to be their president, opting instead for a more telegenic centrist who will no doubt do something dumb like pass the French version of the Commodities Futures Modernization Act and blow up both the economy and his historic opportunity. But the election of Emmanuel Macron (not to be confused with macarons or macaroons) is being hailed as a legitimate political re-alignment, and the New Statesman’s Helen Lewis, bless her and keep her, offered up the best version of the joke that was waiting to be told:

As I step off the train in Roquefort, southern France, I sniff the air appreciatively. It’s so good to be out of the Paris bubble, meeting some Continue reading "I Volunteer To Go To France For A Month To Understand Macron Voters"