A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
A pivotal moment for the Trump presidency
Michael Cohen will be everywhere on Wednesday. His long-awaited testimony to the House Oversight Committee will be shown live on all the cable news channels, of course, and it will also carried live by the broadcast networks.
Broadcast’s power has receded in recent years, but it still makes a big statement when ABC, CBS and NBC decide to interrupt regularly scheduled programming for news events.
And that’s what we’re going to see on Wednesday. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. Eastern time. Savannah Guthrie and Chuck Todd will anchor live coverage on NBC starting at 9:45 a.m. George Stephanopoulos will lead ABC’s coverage. Norah O’Donnell will anchor on CBS. And Fox News will offer an optional special report to Fox’s broadcast stations.
The broadcast networks will roll with the hearing for several hours. The cable newsers will be wall-to-wall. Wolf Blitzer and Jake Tapper will lead CNN’s morning coverage beginning at 9 a.m.
A back-and-forth day
Wednesday isn’t exactly a “split-screen” day because Washington and Hanoi are twelve hours apart. Instead, it will be a “back and forth” day. American viewers will wake up to pictures of President Trump’s meet and greet with Kim Jong Un. Then the focus will shift to Capitol Hill. As the sun sets in the United States and rises in Vietnam, the summit will take center stage. (Will Trump react to Cohen?)
NBC’s Lester Holt, ABC’s David Muir, and CBS’s Jeff Glor are anchoring their respective nightly newscasts from Hanoi. Christiane Amanpour and Jim Sciutto are there for CNN. Bret Baier is there for Fox. They’ll lead the special reports during Trump and Kim’s photo ops and meetings…
CNN’s Jim Acosta in Hanoi: W.H. aides “know that Michael Cohen will be a huge spectacle tomorrow, and that it is going to overshadow much of what the president does here.”
The expectation, a senior White House official told CNN, is that “Trump will stay up overnight in Hanoi and watch.” Does he get Fox News on these trips?
Arguing about lying
On Wednesday, Anderson Cooper said on “AC360,” we’ll be hearing from “a known liar who lied for another known liar because the liar told him to lie and paid him to lie.”
With the W.H. predictably attacking Cohen’s credibility, Cooper said “there is no doubt that Michael Cohen has lied, and lied a lot. He lied while working for Donald Trump, for his company. He lied on TV promoting Trump’s campaign. And he lied under oath to Congress. He’s a convicted felon. The difference between him and President Trump is that Cohen has admitted to lying. The president has not.”
We’re going to hear a lot more of this on Wednesday, and Cohen already seems prepared with an answer…
“I’m going to let the American people decide”
Here’s what he said after a long day behind closed doors on Tuesday: “I really appreciate the opportunity that was given to me to clear the record and to tell the truth and I look forward to tomorrow, to being able to, in my voice, to tell the American people my story, and I’m going to let the American people decide exactly who’s telling the truth.”
He has chilling things to say about the president… But will any of it sink in?
Matt Lewis has doubts. Writing for The Daily Beast, Lewis says “the public is too overwhelmed to process the Trump overload. We are at the point where this bombardment of Trump—this never-ending fountain of sex, power, Russia, and low-grade corruption—feels perfectly normal…”
Notes, quotes and questions
– Gloria Borger on “The Situation Room:” “I don’t think we can overstate the drama of all of this – between the POTUS and the man he once trusted to do all his bidding…”
– Will Cohen say anything that backs up BuzzFeed’s disputed story from last month?
– Will Matt Gaetz face any consequences for threatening Cohen?
– WSJ’s curtain-raiser story: “Cohen to Testify That Trump Engaged in Criminal Conduct While in Office.”
– Rachel Maddow: “If the WSJ is right tonight, and Congress is about to be given evidence, physical evidence, of the president committing financial crimes while he has been serving as president, as a country we’re going to have to decide which way we go with that. Right away.”
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE
– Sean Hannity is also in Hanoi, and he’s planning on a post-summit interview with POTUS… On Tuesday he rode through the city on a scooter to make airtime… (The Hill)
– There’s been “logistical mayhem” in Hanoi. The “international media center” for the summit was abruptly moved out of the Meliá Hotel because that’s where Kim is staying… (NYT)
– WaPo’s Tuesday scoop: “The U.S. military blocked Internet access to an infamous Russian entity seeking to sow discord among Americans during the 2018 midterms, several U.S. officials said…” (WaPo)
– Far-right troll Jacob Wohl bragged to USA Today about his plans to use social networking sites to misinform people about the 2020 elections. By late afternoon, Twitter had permanently banned him… (BuzzFeed)
Univision crew expelled from Venezuela
Jorge Ramos is now back in Miami after being detained while interviewing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Monday.
Maduro “didn’t like the interview, so they took our cameras, our video,” Ramos told Anderson Cooper Tuesday night. “They detained us for two hours. And then they expelled me this morning from Venezuela.” He said American and Mexican reps “helped us” get out of the country safely…
Telemundo reporter detained for six hours
Telemundo said Tuesday that its correspondent in Venezuela, Daniel Garrido, was abducted and detained for six hours.
Garrido was actually covering what happened with Ramos when, according to Telemundo, “a group of unidentified armed men forced him into a vehicle and covered his head with a hood. After questioning him for six hours and seizing his equipment, the kidnappers freed him without explanation and without returning his equipment….”
→ Univision’s head of news expressed solidarity with rival Telemundo…
The Justice Department’s 15-month-long legal battle to block AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, has ended in failure for the government. The cost: A long delay for AT&T, tens of millions in legal costs and a setback for the government.
Tuesday’s result has been a long time coming. AT&T began to integrate Time Warner, now named WarnerMedia, into the corporate fold after its initial court victory last June. On Tuesday morning a federal appeals court upheld that ruling, serving up a second loss for the DOJ. The government said it would not appeal further: “We are grateful that the Court of Appeals considered our objections to the District Court opinion. The Department has no plans to seek further review.”
So that’s that — US v. AT&T is over — and the legal cloud hanging over WarnerMedia has cleared. Here’s Hadas Gold’s full story…
Changes expected @ WarnerMedia
Recode’s Peter Kafka on what’s next: “AT&T now has full control of the giant entertainment company and is going to start moving pieces around.”
THR’s Kim Masters reported Tuesday that “sources believe former NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt may be poised to take a major role” at WarnerMedia under CEO John Stankey…
FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO
– There’s a renewed debate about Australia’s “suppression orders” in the wake of Cardinal George Pell’s conviction last December, which was only able to be revealed on Tuesday. This case is “a test of whether court privacy rules are still enforceable — or applicable — with borderless news sites and social media…” (WaPo)
– The Australian notes that media outlets like the BBC and CNN “did not report on the conviction for Australian audiences until yesterday,” but other publications “including The Washington Post and The Daily Beast” did… (The Australian)
– Poynter’s Tom Jones on Clarissa Ward’s CNN reports from Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan: “There are times when you’re in awe of what media outlets can do. This is one of those times…” (Poynter)
New York Media no longer looking for a buyer
“New York Media, the parent company, has decided not to move ahead with a sale after reviewing its strategic options, according to people familiar with the matter,” WSJ’s Ben Mullin reported Tuesday evening…
→ The company’s CEO Pam Wasserstein is on this week’s Digiday Podcast…
→ And my interview with the mag’s outgoing editor Adam Moss will be coming out later this week…
The American Journalism Project has launched
This is a venture philanthropy organization that wants to give grants and other support to local nonprofit newsrooms all across the country. The founders are two people who know how to make these newsrooms work: Elizabeth Green of Chalkbeat and John Thornton of The Texas Tribune. He is managing director and she is chairing the board of directors.
The goal, Green said in this Medium post, is to give “meaningful grants to the most promising local news institutions, both those that are already emerging and some that don’t yet exist.”
About $42 million has been raised so far from the Knight Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Emerson Collective, the Facebook Journalism Project, and other sources. More info here…