To sum up where we are so far this week, “everything happens so much now, and everything that happens is so, so stupid,” as Bijan Stephen tweets. So it seems only fitting to start with this story, from The Onion: BREAKING: Wait-Sorry, False Alarm. In response, On the Media tweets, “A moment of silence, please, for the camerapeople who spent this morning taping a parking lot.”
At The Washington Post, Dan Balz writes about the chaotic opening to what could be a fateful week. Tweets Peter Wallsten, “A must-read from @danbalz on today's chaotic events: At this point, the circuits of government and politics are overloaded. There is too much happening all at once.” Many are also quoting this, from the piece: “If the country once was seen as the world’s most effective and enduring democracy, the latest events tell a far different story, that of a nation at war internally and with its institutions under assault.”
On that note, “What a wild em-dash in this Axios piece,” tweets Josh Sternberg. Jonathan Swan at Axios invites you to read the full Justice Department exit statement on Rod Rosenstein and points out that Axios’s story yesterday “conveyed too much certainty to a fluid situation by presenting Rosenstein’s resignation as a done deal.” About the statement, Eric Umansky notices, “So the statement the DOJ drafted when they thought Rosenstein was done very pointedly does not use the word ‘resigned.’”
At Vanity Fair, Gabriel Sherman reports that “The Strategy Was to Try and Do Something Really Big”: Trump Wanted to Nuke Rosenstein to Save Kavanaugh’s Bacon. “So for those keeping score at home: Gabe Sherman's ‘source briefed on Trump’s thinking’ says that Jonathan Swan's ‘source with direct knowledge’ was just trying to kick Kavanaugh out of the news cycle for a few hours,” explains Mike Memoli. Simon Diamond Cramer puts it this way: “So Trump's motivation for trying to fire Rosenstein and create a constitutional crisis...was to distract from the fact that he'd nominated a sexual predator to the Supreme Court. Right.”
So, what’s at stake? In her new piece for POLITICO, Conservative legal insiders have skin in Kavanaugh fight, Eliana Johnson writes that White House aides and allies who encouraged President Donald Trump to choose Kavanaugh for the highest court have a lot to lose. Jason Zengerle says that “.@elianayjohnson makes an important point: For all its success so far, the alliance btwn the Federalist Society and Trump is as fragile as it is transactional. One bad outcome, like Kavanaugh going down, and Trump might look elsewhere for advice on judges.”
A preview of what’s to come
As Samuel R. Chamberlain of Fox News recaps, Brett Kavanaugh appeared with his wife Ashley last night for an interview with Martha MacCallum and denied sexual misconduct, saying he was a virgin through high school and for “many years after.” Shelby Holliday tweets, “Great interview questions by @marthamaccallum, lots of denials by Judge Kavanaugh. A preview of what's to come on Thurs. Watch the whole thing.”
In other interviews...ABC 7’s Wayne Freedman interviewed Kavanaugh’s freshman roommate at Yale, James Roche, and he says he believes second woman accusing judge of sexual misconduct (22,000+ shares). Roche, who became friends with Ramirez, told Freedman that Kavanaugh “was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time, and that he became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk. I did not observe the specific incident in question, but I do remember Brett frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk.”
Meanwhile, “Mark Judge has tried to disappear since Christine Ford went public. Republicans are blocking efforts to subpoena him for Thursday’s hearing. But @Gabriel_Pogrund tracked him down in Bethany Beach yesterday.” James Hohmann links to the story by Gabriel Pogrund, Carol D. Leonnig and Aaron C. Davis at The Washington Post, ‘How’d you find me?’: Mark Judge has been holed up in a beach house in Delaware amid a media firestorm.
Kate Kelly and David Enrich of The Washington Post explain why Kavanaugh’s Yearbook Page Is ‘Horrible, Hurtful’ to a Woman It Named (90,000+ shares). Tweets Christina Wilkie, “New: A woman who publicly vouched for Kavanaugh's character just learned that she was the butt of a cruel joke on his yearbook page, where he used her name and implied she was promiscuous. ‘I pray their daughters are never treated this way,’ she says.” “So much male bonding depends on the sexual humiliation of women, and boys learn that very early,” tweets Chloe Angyal, while Daniel Drezner says, “It seems a tad difficult to reconcile Kavanaugh’s claims on @FoxNews this evening with this story.”
How familiar it all is
In a new op-ed for The New York Times, Michelle Goldberg finds Pigs All the Way Down (25,000+ shares). “The thing I’m struck by as I read these endless accounts of the sexual abuse and assault of women by men is not how shocked I am, but how familiar it all is, how utterly, sickeningly unsurprising,” says Cheryl Strayed. Adds Sasha Brown-Worsham, “I knew boys like this, too at my private schools. I believe every word. We have to tear. It. All. Down.”
Of this next one, Addy Baird says, “This is so good and so so important.” At Jezebel, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd writes that The Next Step for #MeToo Is Into the Gray Areas, “toward a deeper look at some of the most common and harder-to-define experiences.” Rebecca Baird-Remba reveals, “I’m a pseudonymous accuser in this piece. Now, more than ever, people need to fully understand how men’s damaging sexual behavior—both in and outside the workplace—can reverberate through the personal and professional lives of the women they’ve hurt.” “I stand with the brave women who came forward for this piece,” tweets Jillian D'Onfro.
Switching gears, Mike Isaac of The New York Times has the story on the shakeup at Facebook as Instagram’s co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are reportedly stepping down from the company. Casey Johnston wonders, “is this because instagram’s attempts to get you to follow your Facebook friends have gotten so painfully thirsty and embarrassing, I can only assume so.” Well, it’s only going to get worse. As Vindu Goel points out, “So now all the founders of all of Zuckerberg’s major acquisitions will be gone, leaving him in total control.” Predicting the not-too-distant future, Kevin Roose says, “Growth-hacked boomer Instagram is gonna be lit.”
Not a good look
“This is a pretty damning story. But worth your few minutes to read,” says Asma Khalid. She’s referring to Jonathan Martin’s piece at The New York Times on the evolution of Kyrsten Sinema from homeless child to Senate candidate, A Senate Candidate’s Image Shifted. Did Her Life Story? “Telling stories about your past that contemporary records contradict - especially when those records don't even make you look that much better or worse - is never a good look for a candidate,” Rob Pegoraro points out, while Allison Benedikt just says, “Oof, this isn’t good.”
Meanwhile, fact-checker Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post takes a closer look at Beto O’Rourke’s false claim he did not try to leave the scene of a DWI and awards it four Pinocchios.
Bikes, bears, baseball and a pivot
“Lots of great data viz in this morning’s @WSJ story,” tweets Jake Ekdahl, of Scott Calvert and Max Rust’s deep dive for The Wall Street Journal on The Most Dangerous Place to Bicycle in America. As James Greiff tweets, “Pinellas County, FL. Lived there for several years and twice was hit by cars. Drivers there seem to delight in harassment and intimidation.” Jason Gay says, “As a cyclist I’m sadly used to media coverage that pins blame on riders and ignores the larger issues of car culture. This @WSJ story is truly an exception...it’s a vigorous 360 examination of cyclist deaths and the car issues at the core. A must read.”
Some good news: Judge restores protections for grizzly bears, blocking hunts, reports AP’s Matthew Brown.
And now, Jason Zengerle admits, “This story by @DevinGordonX is so good, it almost makes me want to be a Mets fan.” Check out Devin Gordon’s feature in The New York Times Magazine, Gary Keith and Ron, the Magi of Mets Nation. Tweets Mike Newall, “For long-suffering Mets fans like myself (sorry, Philly), this story on the joyful weirdness of Gary Keith and Ron has it all: gratuitous Yankee insults, deep-seated bitterness, and untrammeled hope. A late-season read by @DevinGordonX.”
It’s no ihob, but Weight Watchers has rebranded itself in a pivot to wellness, writes Jessica Wohl at Ad Age. Instead of Weight Watchers, the company will now be known as, wait for it...WW, with a new tagline and lots of other things that have references to words with Ws.
New York Times journalist Taffy Brodesser-Akner spoke with The Cut’s Lisa Ryan for its How I Get It Done series, and as Jeff Wilser tweets, “.@taffyakner is, actually, one of those people who makes me say, how *does* she get it done? (So this is a treat.)” Adds Jane Timm, “it's like @taffyakner knew we needed some hilarious real-talk about life, face oil, and routines to get us all through this week.” Hannah Levintova agrees: “During this awful and bonkers news week, this Q&A with @taffyakner is giving me life.” For her part, Brodesser-Akner tweets, “I don't know what The Cut is.”