A big deal
While the second US-North Korea Summit kicks off in Hanoi, things are heating up stateside. Rebecca Ballhaus and Warren Strobel of The Wall Street Journal report that the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen plans to testify on Wednesday that Trump engaged in criminal conduct while in office. According to a person familiar with his plans, Cohen will tell the House committee that he witnessed Trump’s “lies, racism and cheating” and will reveal more about his role in hush-money payments.
Or if you want to put it a different way, Cohen is planning on portraying his onetime client in starkly negative terms, which is how Maggie Haberman frames it at The New York Times. In case you weren’t sure, Bill Ritter notes that it’s “a big deal when ur lawyer testifies against you.” Nicolle Wallace points out, “The entire WH strategy is to call him a liar. Let that sink in. Trump is near 10k lies in office. People close to him say he doesn’t even know when he’s lying anymore. Cohen has tapes. Cohen has one way to lessen his sentence: tell the truth.” “Best wishes and heartfelt thoughts go out to everybody who covers other topics this week,” Eric Roston offers.
The Post’s Matt Zapotosky and Rosalind Helderman have put together a list of 20 questions that Michael Cohen could answer for lawmakers when he testifies on Capitol Hill this week. Matea Gold calls it “your must-read primer on what to look for in Michael Cohen's Hill testimony this week.”
Meanwhile, Ballhaus, along with The Wall Street Journal’s Dustin Volz, had another big story last night. According to their reporting, the House Judiciary Committee believes it has evidence of a conversation in which President Trump asked then-AG Matthew Whitaker whether a Manhattan U.S. attorney could un-recuse himself from an investigation into Trump’s former lawyer and his real estate business. Tweets Ballhaus, “Trump is annoyed that the Cohen hearing could distract from his Kim summit. But White House advisers have privately expressed relief that the hearing will take place while Trump's ability to monitor coverage is limited—and he doesn’t have TiVo on AF1.”
This is a lot
Next up, brace yourself. As Brad Heath tweets, “Guys, I know it's hard to believe, but Jacob Wohl has been lying to you.” Gus Garcia-Roberts profiles Wohl in USA Today, and that piece is headlined, This 21-year-old tweeted lies about Robert Mueller and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Now, he’s eyeing the 2020 election. Brett LoGiurato wonders, “3,000 words on Jacob Wohl?” Or as Thornton McEnery says, “Here's the Jacob Wohl profile we don't need and shouldn't want.” Even so, Emma Kinery notes, “Jacob Wohl deserves no airtime but this is a lot: He plans to recreate Russians allegedly did in 2016. Making ‘enormous left-wing online properties’ – such as deceptive Facebook and Twitter accounts – ‘to steer the left-wing votes’ to those he sees as weak.” So, not just a liar, but also derivative.
Meanwhile, Shane Goldmacher of The New York Times reports that Bernie Sanders has raised $10 million in less than a week (78,000+ shares). On Twitter, Goldmacher highlights “Two big stats – 359,914 total donors – 38.76% of donations came from NEW email addresses that hadn't previously given to Sanders.”
Bloomberg’s Andrew Rosati has been in Venezuela, and he reveals the harrowing scenes there as the masked colectivos — gangs loyal to autocratic President Nicolas Maduro — unleash terror along the Venezuelan border. Tweets Rosati, “What I saw this weekend on #Venezuela’s border: Masked motorcyclists roared into the town, shooting pistols in the air. They sent terrified demonstrators racing to cower in doorways, and late into the night they prowled streets in deafening patrols.” The colectivos “terrorized thousands who tried to usher humanitarian aid into the hungry nation from Colombia, brutalizing them within a block of an international bridge where food and medicine were waiting,” he writes. They also “have a penchant for robbing reporters, taking or destroying gear and firing wildly at crowds that mass for protests.” That’s just part of it. Read the whole piece to get the fuller picture of what’s going on in Venezuela.
The free press loses
Also in Venezuela, Univision journalists have been freed after being detained at the presidential palace, as Brian Stelter of CNN reports. Six Univision staffers, including veteran anchorman Jorge Ramos, were detained for about three hours. They had been interviewing Maduro, who apparently didn’t like their line of questioning. According to Ramos, Maduro “got up from the interview after I showed him the videos of some young people eating out of a garbage truck.” Ramos says Maduro’s aides still have the tapes.
Meanwhile, “Q: What happens when the authoritarian ruler of North Korea checks into a hotel teeming with American journalists filing round-the-clock news reports? A: The free press loses.” That’s John Hudson, tweeting from Vietnam and linking to his and David Nakamura’s latest dispatch for The Washington Post, In Hanoi, Kim Jong Un and a culture clash with the White House press corps. Nakamura summarizes: “The White House set up a filing center for the American press corps at a hotel in Hanoi. It cost news outlets tens of thousands of dollars and took weeks to set up. Then Kim Jong Un checked in — and kicked the press out.”
How the f---
Kathryn Watson says, “Our education system and we as journalists seriously need to do better explaining how reporting works,” and here’s why: The Columbia Journalism Review, in partnership with Reuters/Ipsos, conducted a new national poll to find out, How does the public think journalism happens? There’s plenty to dig into in these charts, but one stat in particular is getting a lot of attention from journalists on Twitter: 60% of all respondents believe reporters get paid by their sources sometimes or very often. To which Michael Kruse says, “How the f--- do 60 percent of the people in this poll think this?” “To news audiences who have never been in the business: Sources don’t pay reporters. That’s not how this works,” tweets Mason Wright. Alex Howard adds, “This @CJR/Reuters/Ipsos poll on public views of journalism is disturbing. The yawning trust gap is a crisis in news; foundations & outlets should invest much more in public education campaigns about how they work (ie reporters don’t get paid by sources!).”
In other journalism news, David Kroman of Crosscut reports that, four decades after its founding, the Seattle Weekly will cease print publication, leaving the city without a true alternative weekly newspaper. As Rex Sorgatz says, “It’ll be a difficult history to explain, what a critical part of culture alt-weeklies once were.” In the words of Mike Rosenberg, “This sucks. The Seattle Weekly is ceasing publication after 43 years, and the future of its website is unclear. The latest in a long line of Seattle-area media cuts.” He adds, “Reporters working in Washington state 10 years ago: 1,350 Now: 730 So, nearly half gone in a decade.”
Yes, yes and yes
It was a Muck Rack Question of the Day recently, so you know that Emma Thompson quit the movie “Luck” over her refusal to work with Pixar co-founder John Lasseter. Now, in a letter to Skydance producers, which Mary McNamara has at the Los Angeles Times, Emma Thompson explains why I can’t work for John Lasseter. “Well this is worth the read,” tweets Madhulika Sikka. “Yes, yes and yes,” adds Enjoli Liston. “The whole thing is an incredible masterclass in holding power to account,” says Marina Fang.
Australia’s most senior Catholic and Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell has been found guilty of child sexual assault, as Melissa Davey reports at The Guardian. A jury delivered the unanimous verdict in a Melbourne courtroom in December, but the outcome couldn’t be reported on until now due to a suppression order.
Also at The Guardian, David Marr writes, Brutal and dogmatic, George Pell waged war on sex – even as he abused children. “The anger boils out of David Marr’s assessment of Cardinal George Pell, and who can blame him?” tweets Claire Phipps. Marr is the author of “The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell.” Ruth Pollard calls this piece “David Marr at his best, right to the last, devastating line.” “I could not put it any better. Searing truth. Thank you David,” adds Paul Bongiorno.
The stupidity of Brexit
BBC News is reporting that Theresa May is offering MPs a Brexit delay vote. Meanwhile, the hits keep coming. The latest: There’s no-deal Brexit panic after ministers realise the UK doesn’t have the right pallets for exporting to the EU, writes Business Insider’s Adam Payne. Which may seem trivial, but it’s not. “Laugh if you want, but I’ve worked for logistics firms, and EVERYTHING came in on pallets,” Eddie van der Walt points out. Jon Donnison goes there and calls it “Unpalatable,” while Mandy Rhodes expresses everyone’s inner thoughts: “Oh, for God’s sake…”
If we’re heading for a hard Brexit then we’re heading for a united Ireland, writes Patrick Kielty in a new op-ed for The Guardian, and Abid Ali says, “I can't give you one good quote from this.. because it is just a brilliant takedown of the stupidity of Brexit.” We’ll go with this one: “As the prime minister Maybots her way through the charade of alternative arrangements, there’s only one thing you need to know – there are no workable alternative arrangements. If there were, you’d have heard of them by now.”
It's not good
“Well this is just what I wanted to read on the hottest February day since records began,” says Martin Bryant. Natalie Wolchover tweets, “For a year I’ve been reporting this story about major climate news, finally breaking today: A new simulation finds that global warming could cause stratocumulus clouds to disappear in as little as a century, which would add 8°C (14°F) of extra warming.” That’s her new report in Quanta Magazine on A World Without Clouds, and it’s yet another alarming climate change story. As Dan Falk puts it, “!! A new (and terrifying) study looks at the impact of cloud loss on climate -- and it's not good.” Ian O'Neill says, “I think our biosphere is trying to tell us something. Along the lines of: ‘Humans, get your shit together.’”
We’ll close out today with a piece that Dana Cowin calls “A moving must-read.” In Bon Appetit, Joe Beef chef-owner David McMillan reveals, My Restaurant Was the Greatest Show of Excess You’d Ever Seen, and It Almost Killed Me (69,000+ shares). “This unflinching @joebeef self-reckoning is powerful stuff,” says Helen Rosner. “For a lot of people who have read our first book, or seen us on Bourdain being hammered, or have heard about us from New York chefs who have visited the restaurant, they associate coming to Joe Beef with drinking with me. I built the company on my liver,” he writes. Fuchsia Dunlop describes the piece as a “Wonderfully generous and candid account of alcoholism, rehab and healing in the restaurant trade.”