‘Nonstop lying;’ Trump doing his own PR; Holt headlines; Colbert says ‘yay;’ Spicer’s back; big questions; ABC renewals; Steve Harvey speaks

By Brian Stelter and the CNNMoney Media team. View this email in your browser!
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So… what now?

Another way to phrase that question: what will President Trump say and do next?

POTUS has no public events scheduled on Friday

His schedule shows a couple of meetings but nothing on-camera. At some point he’ll be taping an interview with one of his biggest media boosters, Jeanine Pirro, for Saturday night’s episode of “Justice” on Fox News…

Spicer will be back on Friday…

According to the schedule, it’s Sean Spicer, not his deputy Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who will be handling the 1:30pm briefing. Scroll down for Dylan Byers‘ take on Sanders’ “impossible job…”

Big Q’s in the days ahead

 — Will damning new details keep surfacing? New info about James Comey‘s interactions with Trump?

 — What will Comey do next? Will he say anything publicly?

 — When and how will Trump name a new FBI director? Will he hold a press event?

— What will the first post-firing approval polls show?

 — Seconding Nicolle Wallace‏‘s Q on Twitter: “When is it safe to sleep? The news cycle never ends…”

So many headlines from Holt’s interview

In Thursday’s interview with Lester Holt, President Trump “made news on just about every controversy facing him — and might have stoked the flames on some of them,” Anderson Cooper said on “AC360.”

“This Russia thing”

This is one of the biggest takeaways from the interview… it’s leading the WashPost web site Friday morning…

“Trump says he was thinking of ‘this Russia thing’ when he decided to fire Comey”

How’d Holt do?

It was a 31-minute interview. The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove says Holt “relentlessly pressed” Trump “for a reason for sacking Comey that made even a little bit of sense, wondering repeatedly if the president was angry at the FBI director, as multiple news outlets have reported, because his agency was pursuing what he’d called the ‘hoax’ of the Russia investigation…”

 — NYT’s Robert Draper tweets: Holt “did the best, most incisive & newsworthy TV interview of @realDonaldTrump that I’ve seen to date…”

Kurt Bardella notes…

I’m emailing with former Breitbart spokesman Kurt Bardella… he points out… “It’s always the goal in a high-stakes interview for the conversation afterwards to be driven by what the subject says vs how the interviewer performed. Seems like Lester Holt achieved that.

Few instances of real-time fact-checking in the interview

Brian Lowry has a more skeptical POV: That was not Holt’s finest hour. While he obviously had to deal with a whole lot of questions and a limited amount of time, he allowed several statements that were untruthful or have been contradicted by reports to simply go by unchallenged. As one example, when Trump again laid blame for Michael Flynn on Obama, Holt simply changed the subject, without even mentioning Flynn’s vetting for the National Security Advisor position.

 — Lowry adds: To be fair, the NBC anchor likely assumed that the fact-checking would come later. But there was certainly room for some real-time version of that within the portion of the interview that was broadcast…

Holt will also be on “Today” on Friday

That’s when even more of the interview will be shown… 

Trump trying to be his own best PR man

Quoting Politico’s latest: “Trump did the lengthy interview with Holt even though some on his staff believed it was a bad idea and gave his answers off-the-cuff. One person who spoke to him said he’d feen ‘fixated’ on his news coverage and believed his press team was failing him and that he needed ‘to take the situation into his own hands…'”

Gloria Borger said it best…

Her latest column is titled “No one can save Trump from himself.” She writes:

“Maybe a few times in your life you have screamed at the television set. And then what? You flip the channel, and get on with your life. Ah, unless you’re the current President of the United States. Because he probably watches way more TV than you do, and when he sees something he doesn’t like, he doesn’t flip. He stews. He calls his friends and complains. He tweets. And then he acts, because he can…

? Pic of Trump clutching a TV remote control via Time magazine ?


On Wednesday CNN’s Jake Tapper reported that “Comey never provided the President with any assurance of personal loyalty,” adding that a source close to Comey cited this as a major factor in Trump’s decision to fire him. Friday’s Page One story by the NYT’s Michael Schmidt backs this up and adds new details: “In a Private Dinner, Trump Demanded Loyalty. Comey Demurred.”

The big story is the deceit 

My two cents: There is no such thing as “the White House says” anymore. Jay Rosen has been making this point for a while — that the Trump admin is unable to speak with a single credible voice. The point was proven by the president on Thursday. Trump contradicted his own vice president and his own PR people by saying he planned to fire Comey regardless of Rod Rosenstein‘s recommendation…

It’s different now…

Chris Hayes homed in on this during his MSNBC program Thursday night. “I am not crazy that there’s a difference in the treatment of the truth by this White House than others,” he said. “And I say that knowing that all politicians obfuscate, spin, sometimes deceive and lie. This seems like just a completely different planet.

His guest Steve Schmidt, who helped lead John McCain’s campaign, agreed: All spokespeople are used to “tap dancing,” but “you have never seen the systemic, nonstop lying, the nonstop prevaricating” that we’re seeing right now…

“Yawning credibility gap”

Hayes’ other guest, Josh Earnest, who was President Obama’s final press secretary, chimed in: “The current crisis that this White House is weathering is a self-inflicted crisis, and there is a yawning credibility gap. What’s going to happen, Chris — and this time will come — when they’re not facing a self-inflicted crisis but actually a crisis from the outside world? Whether it is some provocative action from an adversary of the United States; whether it is a natural disaster in which American lives are at risk; maybe it’s a public health situation. But at some point, the credibility of the White House and the top surrogates of the White House will mean life and death, and what are we going to do then, given the yawning credibility gap that exists at the White House podium right now?”

Sanders “just as unreliable and obfuscatory” as Spicer

Dylan Byers writes: When Sarah Huckabee Sanders held her first on-camera briefing last week, journalists in attendance or watching back in the office gave her relatively good reviews. She was calmer and more collected than her boss Sean Spicer, they said, and certainly less condescending. But on Thursday, as she became the face of the White House’s bungled, contradictory account of Comey’s firing, Sanders proved to be just as unreliable and obfuscatory in the briefing room as Spicer.

Sanders’ missteps highlight the immense challenges of serving as press secretary to a president like Trump, who appears to leave his own communications staff in the dark while making claims that seem to contradict theirs… Read more…

Meanwhile, over on Fox…

…Charles Krauthammer told Tucker Carlson that the Comey firing “has sort of sent people” in the news media “over the edge, to the point where they think there really are no journalistic limits or journalistic restraints.” 

Yashar Ali noted on Twitter that “both Tucker and Hannity focused on restarting the Clinton email server investigation.” Hannity’s “question of the day” was about whether the FBI should reopen the Hillary investigation…

Weirdest headline of the day

NYT: “Trump Resumes Feud With Rosie O’Donnell on Twitter”

Colbert thanks Trump for attacking him

Frank Pallotta‘s latest story: Some people would be upset if the president said they had no talent, but Stephen Colbert is downright giddy about it.

The “Late Show” host opened Thursday’s broadcast by firing back at Trump’s comment to Time magazine that Colbert is “a no-talent guy.”

Colbert responded with a smile. “The president of the United States has personally come after me and my show, and there’s only one thing to say … yay!” Colbert said, clapping his hands together and laughing. He then blew kisses to the camera and waved as his audience chanted his name.

“Mr. Trump, there’s a lot you don’t understand, but I never thought one of those things would be show business,” Colbert said. “Don’t you know I’ve been trying for a year to get you to say my name? And you were very restrained — admirably restrained — but now you did it. I won.”

CNN says Trump’s latest anti-media attacks “are beneath the dignity of the office of the president”
In the interview with Time’s Michael Scherer and Zeke Miller, Trump also insulted CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon in very personal terms. When Time reached out to CNN for a comment, the network said this: “His comments are beneath the dignity of the office of the President.” Here’s my full story…

Scherer will join me on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources”

Lots to talk about… including ice cream…

ICYMI: Full transcript of Trump’s Economist interview

It’s a must-read… Check it out here.

Important data point: “Voters trust the media more than Trump”

Quoting from Quinnipiac’s latest poll: “American voters disapprove 58 – 37 percent of the way the news media covers Trump. Voters disapprove 65 – 31 percent of the way Trump talks about the media. And voters trust the media more than Trump 57 – 31 percent to tell the truth about important issues.

Melissa McCarthy is getting ready for Saturday night

Lisa France emails: Watch Melissa McCarthy transform into Sean Spicer for her “SNL” promo…
For the record, part one
By Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman

 — BuzzFeed’s Steven Perlberg notes that a 2015 story featuring hacked emails from Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton has been pulled from Gawker, which is now a read-only site. Perlberg raises a point about what might happen to Gawker’s archive now that the site is no longer active…

 — Poynter’s Ben Mullin reports that Fortune is branching out to higher-ed to generate revenue…

 — The Daily Beast has unveiled a redesign that cuts the number of articles featured on the home page by a third…

 — Via Nieman Lab: This Sunday’s NYT will feature a special section for kids… just for print subscribers…

Arrested reporter says “I was just trying to do my job”

CNN’s Jill Disis reports: Dan Heyman, the WV reporter who was arrested after shouting questions at health secretary Tom Price, says he’ll fight the charges…
For the record, part two
 — A scoop from Sky News:TPG, which manages investments valued at more than $70 billion, has joined a cluster of buyout firms examining a deal to acquire about 10% of Vice for just over $500 million…

 — Tony Vinciquerra “will lead Sony’s television and film division,” reporting to Sony Corp president Kazuo Hirai, starting June 1…

— “Classic children’s show ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ will get the streaming-marathon treatment from Twitch, with the Amazon-owned video service hosting a free, 18-day broadcast of all 886 episodes of the PBS show…

HBO’s “Wizard of Lies” premiere

HBO held the NYC premiere of “The Wizard of Lies,” Barry Levinson‘s film about the Madoff family, on Thursday night… Jamie and I spotted Robert De Niro (who plays Bernie Madoff), Michelle Pfeiffer (who plays Ruth Madoff), Richard Plepler, Tom Brokaw, Harry Connick Jr, Bob Kraft, Kelly AuCoin, Gabe Sherman, Bob Balaban, Monica Crowley, Richard Haass, Juli Weiner, Michael Grynbaum, Bill Brink, Regis and Joy Philbin, Sara Ganim, Danny Cevallos, Jeff Cusson, Quentin Schaffer, and more…
The entertainment desk

Kelly Clarkson will judge “The Voice”

Sandra Gonzalez emails: Another busy day in TV land ahead of next week’s upfronts. One of the big headlines: “The Voice” has hired another “Idol” alum! On the heels of hiring Jennifer Hudson to join the judges ranks in the fall, NBC announced that Kelly Clarkson will get her chance in the swiveling chairs next spring. These hires have got to sting over at ABC, where they have yet to announce the new “Idol” judge lineup…

ABC’s renewals and cancellations 

More from Sandra Gonzalez:

 — For those keeping score at home, here are the renewals announced by ABC on Thursday: “The Goldbergs” (for TWO more seasons), “black-ish,” “American Housewife,” “Agents of SHIELD,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Designated Survivor.”

 — Canceled by ABC: “American Crime,” Tim Allen’s “Last Man Standing,” Shondaland’s “The Catch,” “Imaginary Mary,” “The Real O’Neils,” “Secrets and Lies,” “Dr. Ken.”

 — THR has a good rundown of all the ABC pilots that were picked up…

 — And over at NBC… “Powerless” is done, but there was great news for “Great News.” It was renewed for a second season…

Lowry reviews “Snatched”

Brian Lowry emails: Amy Schumer‘s follow-up to “Trainwreck” isn’t exactly one, but “Snatched” — teaming her with Goldie Hawn, who returns to the screen after a long hiatus — is a pretty lackluster ride. Read more…

‘I Love Dick’ flips script on sexual obsession

More from Lowry: Amazon has already received a lot of attention for “I Love Dick,” a series from “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway based on Chris Kraus‘ memoir about sexual obsession. The show, which stars Kathryn Hahn and Kevin Bacon, is blunt and intriguing, though not all of it works… Read Lowry’s full review here…
For the record, part three
 — Sandra Gonzalez emails: Steve Harvey has opened up about that leaked staff memo. Let me save you a click: He’s #SorryNotSorry…

 — Megan Thomas adds: Just for laughs, THR got an executive coach to rewrite Harvey’s staff memo…

 — Lisa France emails: We are so used to trying to figure out which Taylor Swift song might be about which ex-boyfriend. But now the tables may have turned. Did her ex Harry Styles pull a Taylor Swift?

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