U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein speaks during the National Conference on Medicaid of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) October 17, 2018 in Washington, DC.
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U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein speaks during the National Conference on Medicaid of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) October 17, 2018 in Washington, DC.
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A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Rosenstein speaks!

Why? And why now? I’d love to know why Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided to give this interview to Sadie Gurman of the WSJ. Rosenstein almost never grants interviews. Gurman’s story notes that the “rare” Q&A “took place during a turbulent period.” And there are numerous takeaways:

– No “witch hunt:” Rosenstein called Robert Mueller’s probe “appropriate and independent.”

– “People are entitled to be frustrated, I can accept that,” he said. “But at the end of the day, the public will have confidence that the cases we brought were warranted by the evidence, and that it was an appropriate use of resources.”

– Rosenstein said “I try very hard to ignore media speculation about what we’re doing and focus instead on what we’re actually doing. We sit down every day and we work toward the goals of the department and try to ignore the inevitable attention in the media.”

– Rosenstein “declined to comment on a timetable for completion of the Mueller probe.”

HMMM: Rosenstein had no particular reason to give this interview now. That said, Gurman’s story doesn’t drop any hints about why he decided to speak. Maybe we’ll find out someday…

In the meantime, here’s CNN’s latest on the Mueller probe: “People around Trump and other witnesses believe more criminal indictments will come from Mueller…” Insiders are expecting “an active post-election period…”

Trump has a list…

Rosenstein isn’t the only one being interviewed. The White House’s top spokesman, a/k/a President Trump, says “we’re communicating very well” – now that he is giving interviews and talking to the press almost every day.

Trump has been invigorated by his media blitz in recent weeks, two White House officials told’s CNN’s Jeremy Diamond. The W.H. is working its way down a list of outlets the president plans to sit down with before the midterm elections. The list includes both friendly hosts like Fox’s Stuart Varney, who tossed softballs to Trump on Wednesday, and traditional media outlets like the AP. “We have a list. And we’re just trying to get through it,” a senior official said. Here’s our full story…

BUT: Don’t expect this amount of press access to last

Trump’s calculation is that the more he talks, the more successful the GOP will be on Nov. 6. Trump told Varney that he probably won’t keep up this pace of interviews after the midterms. “We want to win, we want to get the Republicans nominated and we want to get them elected,” he said…

Interview #37 with Fox

According to Mark Knoller, the Varney interview was #37 for Fox News/Fox Biz/Fox News Radio. This is just since inauguration day. Fox’s total compares with six interviews with the NYT, five with the WSJ, five with NBC News and CNBC, four with CBS News, two with ABC, and zero with CNN.

So how many more interviews will Trump give between now and Nov. 6? “As much as we can fit in,” the senior official told Diamond. “He loves to talk. He feels like he’s communicating with people. And he feels like he’s giving you” in the media “what you want.” Hey, the official has a point! Many members of the media have bemoaned Trump’s Fox-centric behavior in the past. Now he’s talking with a wider variety of outlets. BUT: This flood-the-zone approach has resulted in a flood of fibs, flubs, and outright fantasies…

Thanks, Rush!

On Wednesday’s “Rush Limbaugh Show,” Rush re-aired part of my Sunday monologue about Trump being “the country’s biggest promoter of misinformation.” I said that access to POTUS is valuable, but “with Trump, the downside of that access is that he’s saying so much stuff that’s untrue that it sows confusion and division.” Rush proceeded to call me “little Brian,” but hey, hopefully I got through to some of his listeners…

The point remains the same: By saturating the airwaves and filling up reporters’ notebooks, Trump is spreading a whole lot of B.S. “He has polluted our information ecosystem,” David Zurawik said on Sunday’s show. “Trump can go on TV and say something incredibly stupid, something that’s horrible in terms of foreign relations, and it almost does not matter, because he is on to the next thing talking about it, and we are always chasing him.”

– FLASHBACK: Gary Kasparov tweeted in December 2016: “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”

If you haven’t read it yet…

Check out the full transcript of The AP’s Tuesday interview with Trump. Picture how Fox’s prime time lineup would have reacted if Barack Obama had said this:

AP: “Why have you not yet visited a military base in a combat zone like in Iraq and Afghanistan?”

Trump: “Well, I will do that at some point, but I don’t think it’s overly necessary. I’ve been very busy with everything that’s taking place here.We have the greatest economy…”

VF’s Keegan to THR

Rebecca Keegan, VF’s Hollywood correspondent and the writer of the HWD Weekly newsletter, is joining The Hollywood Reporter… Matt Belloni will announce her hiring on Thursday… She’ll be THR’s senior editor for film, covering the movie biz and more, writing features and analysis pieces…


– NYT with the scoop: Don McGahn’s final day as W.H. counsel was Wednesday… (NYT)

Read Laura Hazard Owen’s latest on the “pivot to video:” “Did Facebook’s faulty data push news publishers to make terrible decisions on video?” (NiemanLab)

Read more of Wednesday’s Reliable Sources newsletter… And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox…

– Marc Belisle, formerly of Reverb Press, says Facebook’s purge of 559 pages – purportedly for breaking rules against spam and “coordinated inauthentic behavior” – is deeply troubling. “What Facebook calls ‘spam’ behavior is, in reality, a response to its own constant unexplained changes…” (BuzzFeed)

– Brain food: A Q&A with Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer… (Harvard Gazette)