A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
Washington is “jittery, full of rumor, like a becalmed ship in the dead air before a coming storm.”
Oh yes, we’re talking about Robert Mueller’s allegedly imminent report.
This NYT story about DC holding its breath is on the front page of Wednesday’s newspaper. Nicholas Fandos and Noah Weiland write: “It may or may not be the report of the century, it may or may not be ready soon, and it may be only a few pages long. But it is unquestionably one of the capital’s most anticipated documents since the Starr Report.”
So is this the week? I wish I knew. But The Times is right about the rumors and guessing games. And even if Mueller doesn’t deliver anything, his probe is still making news on at least three fronts. There was a new update in the Michael Flynn case on Tuesday evening. Paul Manafort’s final sentencing hearing is on Wednesday. And Roger Stone is back in court on Thursday.
The known unknowns
Chris Cuomo led Tuesday night’s “Primetime” with these questions: “Is Mueller making his last stand tomorrow with Manafort, or are more indictments coming, or are we really now on report watch?” No matter what, “the president’s backers are preparing for war,” he said before bringing in Rep. Matt Gaetz.
When Gaetz spun a conspiratorial web about the Mueller team’s donations to Democrats, Cuomo stopped him and said “Bob Mueller is more Republican than you’ve been on your best day.” Watch…
Full of surprises?
Democrats have been fretting that Mueller’s report might be “a dud,” as Wednesday’s NYT story noted.
But what if Mueller’s findings are full of surprises? As the NYT’s Peter Baker said on MSNBC Tuesday afternoon, Mueller has done “a remarkable job of holding his cards tight to the vest. His office does not leak, much to our frustration. We do not know things until he’s ready for us to know them. It’s very possible that when he finally shows those cards, he has a lot of things there that we don’t know anything about.”
Will transparency prevail?
On “AC360” Tuesday night, Carl Bernstein brought up the overarching principle that “the American people be fully informed about the most important aspects of this investigation.”
He said “I can’t imagine that the new Attorney General of the US, Mr. Barr, wants to end his public career by suppressing what the American people need to know…”
Alex Trebek is still at work
Alex Trebek was at work on Tuesday, just as he said he would be, nearly one week after sharing his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Tuesday was the first scheduled day of production at “Jeopardy!” since Trebek’s announcement last Wednesday. “We are taping today, and Alex is here and behind his lectern as scheduled,” a spokeswoman for the beloved quiz show told me. The show normally has two production days a week. Here’s my full story…
CNN sued by Nicholas Sandmann
Last month Kentucky high school student Nicholas Sandmann and his lawyers sued the Washington Post for defamation. Now a second lawsuit has been filed, this time against CNN. The suit accuses CNN of “waging a 7-day media campaign of false, vicious attacks against Nicholas” and seeks $275 million in damages.
>> TheWrap’s Jon Levine has details here…
>> A CNN spokeswoman declined to comment on the suit…
>> William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection, a conservative law blog, wrote Tuesday night: “I have the same questions about the legal sufficiency of the CNN case as the WaPo case.” Read on…
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE
– News Corp’s campaign against the power of Google and Facebook continues: Its Australia division “is calling for the breakup of Google” in a submission to regulators… Sherisse Pham has details here… (CNN)
– Bloomberg reporter Gerry Smith’s tweet about the News Corp stance: “It’s not every day you see Rupert Murdoch and Elizabeth Warren on the same side of an issue…”
– Speaking of Warren, Ted Cruz retweeted her and said he agrees that “Big Tech has way too much power to silence Free Speech…” (Mediaite)
– Per CNN’s Jean Casarez, “three new attorneys officially joined the Harvey Weinstein defense team Tuesday afternoon, including high profile New York criminal defense attorney Arthur L. Aidala.” Fox viewers will recall that Aidala was a longtime Fox contributor…
Operation Varsity Blues
This college-admissions cheating scam is the ultimate “talker,” to use a popular TV newsroom term. As Chloe Melas wrote here, the allegations read “like a Hollywood plot.” And two famous TV moms, Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, are at the center of it all. Other well-known names are also among the “50 individuals facing federal charges.” All the nightly newscasts led with the scandal. Most major news sites are leading with it right now too. Here’s the latest reporting from CNN’s team…
So many angles…
Brian Lowry emails: At the risk of stating the obvious, it’s amazing how many separate beats this college-admission scandal story bridges: business, sports, entertainment, education and of course politics. It’s the kind of thing that should keep this in the headlines for some time to come…
Imagining the movie already…
VF’s Yohana Desta wonders: “Will their story inspire a Social Network-esque film? A Lifetime movie? A doc war, à la Fyre Fest?” I’ll go with all of the above…
Howard Stern’s book is #1 on Amazon
Never doubt the power of Howard Stern’s microphone: He announced his new book, “Howard Stern Comes Again,” on Tuesday morning, and the newly created Amazon page for the book skyrocketed to No. 1 on the site’s best sellers list. Thanks to all the pre-orders, it is still No. 1 more than twelve hours later.
>> Stern’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, notes that this is his “first book in more than twenty years…”
FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO
– Maxwell Tani tweeted: “Alan Dershowitz, Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyer, has been on Fox News at least 27 times since the Miami Herald dropped a big story about the Epstein case last year. But we couldn’t find a single instance where any Fox host asked him about Epstein.” (The Daily Beast)
– Kwadar Ray, a student journalist at Pace University, says the David J. Pecker Lecture Hall – named for the AMI boss and Pace grad – needs a new name. Pace “should cut all ties from Pecker and remove his name from all honors and buildings…” (Lohud)
First Amendment Awards in DC on Wednesday
ABC’s Pierre Thomas will emcee RTDNF’s 29th annual First Amendment Dinner in DC. The honorees are:
- CNN (award accepted by Jeff Zucker; presented by Carl Bernstein)
- James Goldston, president of ABC News
- David Begnaud, CBS News correspondent
- Shepard Smith, Fox News
- NBC News 2018 election “Road Warriors”
- Dale Hansen, WFAA-TV (Dallas) sports anchor and commentator
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar
- Jamal Khashoggi (accepted by Washing Post Global Opinions Editor Karen Attiah)
- Journalists of the Capital Gazette (accepted by editor Rick Hutzell)
The ceremony will be live-streamed here…
Wednesday’s ad sales event and protest at Fox News HQ
As I noted in yesterday’s newsletter, the anti-Fox group Media Matters is holding a protest outside the Fox News studios on Wednesday morning, coinciding with a high-profile event for ad buyers inside the studios. Other groups, including CAIR, are also supporting the protest. Details here…