One pearl of a line after another
It’s a big news day today, so we’ll catch you up on what’s happened since we checked in yesterday. And as always, it’s a lot. For starters, ‘Give it to me’: Trump lets loose with 81 minutes of bluster, falsehoods and insults, and Ashley Parker captures the moment for us at The Washington Post. On Twitter, she notes, “Midway through Trump’s 81-min presser, my editor ran over and assigned me a scene piece. There was not much time. I did my best.” Mark MacKinnon offers, “Respect to @AshleyRParker - I found myself wondering how anyone could competently write up that bizarre Trump press conference. She did it.” Adds Mark Salter, “Man, can she write. One pearl of a line after another.”
Parker also tweets, “Pick your poison: @grynbaum and I take you front and center into Trump’s 81-minutes of sheer news and delight. From the paper the president once loved and the one he never much liked,” linking to Michael M. Grynbaum’s piece at The New York Times, ‘I Could Be Doing This All Day.’ Trump Delights in Sparring With the Press. Will Pollock has a bit different take: “what we saw: hallucinating arrogant dollhands what @nytimes saw: bold showman having a blast.”
He said, she said, she said, she said
In advance of Christine Blasey Ford’s appearance at the Kavanaugh hearing today, you could read her prepared opening statement. In addition to Dr. Ford and Deborah Ramirez, we now know that Julie Swetnick Is the Third Woman to Accuse Brett Kavanaugh of Sexual Misconduct. Jim Rutenberg, Steve Eder and Rebecca R. Ruiz are covering the story at The New York Times, and at The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus and Aruna Viswanatha report that the new claims add fuel to the showdown over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. As Mieke Eoyang puts it, “He said, she said, she said, she said.” POLITICO’s Marc Caputo and Natasha Korecki have since found out that an ex-boyfriend filed a restraining order against Swetnick, which gives us “The inevitable Florida connection…” tweets George Bennett.
Meanwhile, Kasie Hunt, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Heidi Przybyla of NBC News report that the Senate probed another new allegation of misconduct against Kavanaugh. And Greg Sargent of The Washington Post has the scoop that Mark Judge’s girlfriend is ready to talk to the FBI and Judiciary Committee about what Judge confided to her about boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman. Sen. Susan Collins has privately raised concerns about new allegations and lack of subpoena for Kavanaugh friend, according to Phil Mattingly and Manu Raju of CNN.
In Jill Abramson’s view, This Hearing Is Stacked Against Christine Blasey Ford, she writes at The New York Times. As Jane Mayer puts it, “New from @JillAbramson Unfair Process is Designed to Make Senators Look Fair.” Adds Neal Rogers, “Reminder: Today’s Senate Judiciary Committee is political theater, nothing more. It’s not about getting to the truth. If it was, Republicans would have subpoenaed witnesses who could support Dr. Blasey’s account, or called for an FBI investigation.” Robert Draper also notes, “This excellent foreshadowing by @JillAbramson also reminds us why there's almost no chance Biden will be the Democratic nominee in 2020.”
About men impressing other men
Caille Millner tweets, “Man, @jiatolentino and @MillicentSomer have just been drop-everything-and-read on Kavanaugh.” Jia Tolentino’s piece for The New Yorker looks at Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump, and the Things Men Do for Other Men. As she explains on Twitter, ”I wrote about frats & yearbooks & the way sexual aggression against women is so often not about sex, or women, but about men impressing other men.” Emily E. Smith says, “I’ve been thinking about this by @jiatolentino all day. It says so much, and so well.”
Emily Jane Fox shares the stories of seven Holton-Arms alumnae in her piece for Vanity Fair, “I Was Ashamed”: After Ford’s Accusation, a Generation of Holton-Arms Alumnae Wrestle with Their Own Truths—Together. Tweets Katie Couric, “This piece in @VanityFair by @emilyjanefox is an excellent look at the culture that existed back in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. I think it adds an interesting perspective to the conversation. #KavanaughHearings.” Adds Kate Bennett, “This story hits. It broke my heart and made me angry all at once. No matter what is happening in politics or in the headlines, I hope things have changed. And I hope we raise young women to fight back, fight fair, fight hard. So well handled @emilyjanefox.”
According to the latest Morning Consult/POLITICO poll, Republican Women Lose Faith in Kavanaugh -- and Trump -- After Week of Accusations, writes Morning Consult’s Eli Yokley. He notes that “among all voters – including Democrats, independents and Republican – there are gender gap in support for confirming #Kavanaugh. Overall, support for confirming him is underwater – 37% oppose, 34% support.”
The original plan
In other stories to keep an eye on today, Katie Benner and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times write about Matthew G. Whitaker, the chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and a Trump loyalist who is seen as ascendant amid Rosenstein chaos. Tweets Haberman, “Rosenstein was leaving, and the White House was planning for it all weekend. Trump was in on it. Then Rosenstein abruptly changed course before heading to the White House on Monday, wanting to leave without Trump shredding him.”
Speaking of Trump loyalists, Randeep Ramesh tweets, “OMFG ‘All these people had two things in common. They were Trump loyalists. And they knew nothing whatsoever about the job they suddenly found themselves in.’” That comes from ‘This guy doesn’t know anything’: the inside story of Trump’s shambolic transition team, by Michael Lewis, author of “Moneyball” and “The Big Short.” In The Guardian’s excerpt from his new book, “The Fifth Risk,” Lewis reveals how Trump’s bungled presidential transition set the template for his time in the White House. Scott Simon says, “This is telling, gripping, sourced and detailed,” and Chris Krewson admits, “You know, I thought I was done being surprised by stories like this. Turns out, no. I'm still surprised.” So’s Jessica Elgot, who tweets, “I read this with my jaw on the floor at some of the details.”
Cutting through the Russia masquerade
On the other hand, “I am sure nobody is surprised by this…” says Lynnette Peck. At The Telegraph, Hayley Dixon and Robert Mendick report, Skripal ‘hitman’ unmasked as GRU colonel awarded Russia's highest military honour by Vladimir Putin, the result of an “Incredible @bellingcat/@Telegraph investigation into Russian poisoners. Looking harder & harder to deny the order didn't came from the top,” tweets Josie Ensor. The Bellingcat story: Skripal Suspect Boshirov Identified as GRU Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga. Tweets Neil MacFarquhar. “Incredible online sleuthing by @bellingcat & @the_ins_ru seems to cut through the #Russia masquerade, including a bullshit staged interview by @RT_com, to identify one agent sent to poison the Skripals in Britain as a G.R.U. officer, Col. Anatoliy Chepiga.”
And now, a scoop that Josh Dawsey calls an “Impressive get.” At The Daily Beast, Betsy Woodruff and Erin Banco reveal What Erik Prince and Moscow’s Money Man Discussed in That Infamous Seychelles Meeting. “A passing interaction over a beer, huh?” says Brian Beutler. June Cassagrande breaks it down like this: “A shady mercenary mofo with no official government or campaign role was talking to a Putin money man about using rubles to buy off Rust Belt voters with the goal of helping Trump keep his grip on power. Putin, I'm sure, wanted nothing in return.” “It's bombshell stories like this that make me proud to have gone through the same journalism program as @woodruffbets,” tweets Thomas Novelly.
Meanwhile, at WIRED Matt Burgess brings the proof that Russian-backed accounts pushed the Nike boycott. As Chris Brito says, “Congrats to everyone who burned or ripped their Nike apparel because of Colin Kaepernick. You played yourself, patriots.”
The nightmare is real
And now for something completely different. Amanda Hess reveals, “I spent the summer going to as many Instagram-able pop-up ‘experiences,’ ‘museums,’ and ‘factories’ that I could find. They nearly broke me.” You can read about that in her New York Times piece, The Existential Void of the Pop-Up ‘Experience.’ As Ben Detrick says, “come for the soulless pop-up activation, stay for the gif of a woman getting blasted in the face with candy from a pig ass.” “This is the most nightmarish episode of Black Mirror I can imagine, except it’s real,” says Robin Linn, and Kevin Roose tweets, “Fully convinced I will tell people I worked with @amandahess and @taffyakner someday and they will just stare at me, slack-jawed.”
Moving on to “More Facebook creepiness,” as Charles Ornstein puts it, turns out, Facebook Is Giving Advertisers Access to Your Shadow Contact Information. That scoop is from Kashmir Hill at Gizmodo, who describes it on Twitter as “That thing where you go to a company and ask if they do something and they are like 'no way.’ And then some academic researchers perform extensive testing to see if company does that thing. And then company is like, ‘oh yeah, we do that thing.’”
Over at The Los Angeles Times, owner Patrick Soon-Shiong calls social media the ‘cancer of our time,’ reports Berkeley Lovelace Jr at CNBC, and Matt Pearce points out, “A big part of the unionization wave happening in newsrooms right now has to do with journalists demanding more responsible, respectful ownership. But the existential issue is that tech companies have broken the business behind well funded journalism.” Laura Davis tweets, “It's not that Soon-Shiong doesn't have evidence for his claim. People trust news on social media less, platforms can be manipulated, etc. I just hope the language isn't seized upon to fit certain agendas in newsrooms still playing catch-up.”
Meanwhile, Joshua Benton of Neiman Lab asks, What will happen when newspapers kill print and go online-only? Most of that print audience will just…disappear, according to new research.
Today’s tech news cycle is out of control
In this case, Kate Conger is referring to the story by Bryan Menegus of Gizmodo, Amazon’s Aggressive Anti-Union Tactics Revealed in Leaked 45-Minute Video. As he tweets, “‘Unions are lying, cheating rats’ is a wild sentence for Amazon to have included in their manager training video.” Ethan Gach points out, “first place I ever worked, a super market, also had an anti-union propaganda segment and short quiz as part of its training program, which isn't to say that Amazon's isn't uniquely pernicious, just that anti-union propaganda is very common.”
That small piece of brightness
“Christ the headline alone is making me excited,” Chris Mandle shares, of the headline for Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s New York Times profile of Bradley Cooper, Bradley Cooper Is Not Really Into This Profile. As Brodesser-Akner tweets, “Turns out the celebrity profile is *not* dead but some people very much wish it were. Please enjoy my story about Bradley Cooper, who made a movie of art and truth and beauty that he will just not explain to me.” But as Cari Wade Gervin says, “Anyway there is at least @taffyakner on Bradley Cooper to read today, so there is that small piece of brightness.”
A few more
Jenn Pelly tells us, “I searched for answers in the Pinegrove story.” The result is her piece for Pitchfork, Reckoning With Pinegrove. Ryan Schreiber calls it, “Extraordinary journalism from @jennpelly bringing compassion, nuance, and clarity to an intensely difficult subject,” and Sammy Maine offers, “thank you @jennpelly for putting this year into words.”
Amber Ferguson links to the “Really great work by @petejamison and @PerryStein on their story about how a D.C. high school principal was recorded mocking a freshman student's sexual assault claim.” At The Washington Post, Peter Jamison and Perry Stein report on a lawsuit that says a D.C. principal was taped mocking a student’s sex assault claim. Tweets Stein, “Here's what happened when one teen reported a sexual assault to her principal. The principal, after the student left her office, criticized her clothing and said she would report it to police just to embarrass the student. Listen here.”
Jaclyn Peiser of The New York Times has the “EXCLUSIVE: A new nonprofit website called The City is teaming up with @NYMag in hopes of replacing some of that lost local accountability and investigative journalism. @Jere_Hester will edit and @BuzzFeedBen will chair the board of directors.” Read more in her piece, Website Revs Up, With New York Magazine’s Help, to Cover More Local News.
“Meanwhile in Florida, a ballot measure to restore the vote to people with felony convictions could enfranchise 1.5 million — more than any single initiative since women’s suffrage. My story.” Emily Bazelon’s piece for The New York Times asks, Will Florida’s Ex-Felons Finally Regain the Right to Vote?