EXTRA EDITION: Trump speaks; credibility crisis; nonstop coverage; CNN responds to Trump’s insults; what will Comey do next?


By Brian Stelter and the CNNMoney Media team. View this email in your browser!
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SPECIAL EDITION… THE WHITE HOUSE IN CRISIS…
The shock about James Comey‘s firing is subsiding. And the consequences are starting to sink in. Journalists are in overdrive trying to explain it all… So we’re trying to size up the coverage with this special afternoon edition of the newsletter…

This is what a collapse of credibility looks like

There is no such thing as “the White House says” anymore. Jay Rosen has been making this point for a while — that the administration 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.

 — Rosen tweeted Thursday: “There is no White House. There is only Trump. Plus people who work in the building…”

“He’s a showboat. He’s a grandstander”

That’s not President Trump describing himself, that’s Trump describing James Comey... in an 11:30am interview with NBC’s Lester Holt… NBC aired a special report at 12:52pm with a few highlights from the interview… Details here… 

So many misleading accounts

Jim Sciutto on CNN before Sarah Huckabee Sanders‘ briefing: “It’s important to just catalog and list the number of misleading accounts that have come out of the White House. One, that the deputy A.G. memo is what led to Comey’s firing. That’s now contradicted by the president himself, despite the fact that the White House made that justification on Tuesday… Two, the idea that Comey told the president three times that he’s not under investigation. Misleading because… the president himself is not a subject of the investigation today, his advisers are…”

Sciutto an hour later, after the briefing: “The account she gave is false and contradictory…”

Sanders chides W.H. correspondents: “You guys want to get lost in the process”

Sanders seemed to be dreading the questions from reporters. But she was aggressive in her answers. Two stand-out quotes that don’t stand up to scrutiny:

 — She claimed “our story is consistent” about the reasons for the firing.

 — “I’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that are grateful” Comey is out. 

THE BOTTOM LINE?

“Absolutely no reason to trust them”

NYMag’s Olivia Nuzzi tweets: “The WH has lied about small things (crowd size at the inauguration) & now arguably Trump’s biggest, most controversial decision as president. They have given the media and the public absolutely no reason to trust them.”

NBC has a lot more to air tonight… 

NBC is pushing ahead to the 6:30pm broadcast of “NBC Nightly News,” when more of the Trump interview will be shown. From a 30 Rock source: “There is more news in it. It was a great interview…. Trump was to the point and gracious…”

Holt will also be on “Today” on Friday

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

Nonstop coverage on cable 

Brian Lowry emails: I’ve had MSNBC on in the background most of the day. Since 1pm, they’ve been running the Trump-Holt interview on almost a continuous loop, with pundits and correspondents talking over it. From what I’ve seen the coverage has been pretty solid.

And picking up something that Brian Steinberg flagged Wednesday night, CNN’s coverage has been better when the surrogates are sidelined and reporters are featured. Steinberg noticed Jake Tapper doing this at the top of the 11pm hour Less of the back-and-forth face-offs but far more enlightening…

What do YOU think of the coverage?

“Let’s continue to dig,” Brooke Baldwin said at the end of her 2pm hour. We are in the middle of the biggest, messiest controversy of Trump’s young presidency. How are newsrooms doing? Do you feel like reporters and writers are thoroughly explaining everything? Send us your observations and opinions… reliablesources@turner.com…

Top tweets

 — David French: “A person can believe the Dems are hypocrites about Comey and believe it’s wrong for the president to fire an FBI Director and lie about why…”

 — Brit Hume: “Whatever you think of the Comey ouster, it’s now clear the White House utterly botched the explanations/aftermath, fueling the firestorm…”

 — Glenn Thrush‏: “Before we go down the Sean-is-gonna-get-fired rabbit hole: it doesn’t matter who is at the podium — if the information they provide isn’t true…”

Trump and his remote control

This is a priceless photo — via Time mag — of Trump clutching one of his television remotes. The scandal enveloping the White House partly involves the president’s TV fixation… Because the president reportedly became angrier and angrier while watching Comey speak on TV…

Rush’s take

Oliver Darcy emails: Rush Limbaugh rhetorically asked on his radio show Thursday afternoon if everyone was “missing the mother of all scandals.” He suggested that, in terms of the FBI, the real story was how President Obama “weaponized” the agency against Trump. “Isn’t a real scandal here that Obama sic’d the FBI on his party’s political opponent, the Trump campaign, the minute Trump won the GOP nomination? Where is there any outrage?”

Limbaugh also said it was the media and Democratic Party, in their “unending quest” to dig into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, who have been “undermining the sanctity and legitimacy” of the election…

HERE’S WHAT I’M WONDERING NOW…

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/open himself up to questioning?

Will leak investigations escalate? 

One of Trump’s reported frustrations was that Comey was “far less concerned about the leaks than Trump thought he should be,” per CNN’s Jeff Zeleny and John King. Is the president pressing for more aggressive leak investigations now?
MEANWHILE..
CNN says Trump’s latest anti-media attacks “are beneath the dignity of the office of the president”
In an interview with Time magazine’s Michael Scherer and Zeke Miller, Trump insulted CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon, criticized MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, and called CBS late-night host Stephen Colbert a “no-talent guy.” 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…

Trump is misconstruing TV ratings

Frank Pallotta emails: Blink and you may have missed it, but Trump told Time that his appearance on Colbert’s “Late Show” in 2015 was “the highest rating [Colbert’s] ever had.” Nope. That distinction would go to Colbert’s premiere, which brought in 6.6 million viewers. Trump’s guest spot nabbed 4.6 million a few weeks later…

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.

Full transcript of Trump’s Economist interview

It’s a must-read… Check it out here…

During the interview, Trump claimed that he coined the term “prime the pump…”

The Atlantic’s David Graham reacts: “Trump’s blithe confidence that he invented one of the most common phrases in popular economic discourse is stunning on several counts. It not only suggests a self-confidence bordering on delusion, it illuminates a worrisome fact: The president both knows very little about the things he talks about, and has little interest in learning more. Throughout his talk with The Economist, Trump alternates between statements, mostly about trade and economics, that are plainly untrue and those that are meaninglessly empty…”

ACROSS THE DIAL 

Scarborough: “President is subverting the Constitution”

Joe Scarborough‘s message to the GOP on “Morning Joe:” “What we’re talking about now is a president that is subverting the Constitution of the United States of America. I promise you this. I promise you this. Mark it down. If you go along with this man, and you allow this to go unchecked, you will be swept aside in 2018 and politically crushed.”

“It looks a lot like Nicaragua here in the U.S.”

NSA director turned CNN analyst Michael Hayden on Thursday’s “New Day:” “It looks a lot like Nicaragua here in the United States with the multiple firings and the difficulty of getting an accurate and consistent story out from the White House…”

“The messaging war”

Over on “Fox & Friends,” the hosts gently suggested that Trump did the right thing by firing Comey, but maybe got the PR rollout wrong. A soundbite:

Brian Kilmeade: “Did you lose the messaging war because you didn’t expect this type of blowback?”

Kellyanne Conway: “No, we didn’t lose the messaging war.”

What this news cycle feels like

CNN’s Hunter Schwartz writes about “24 surreal hours” in this time-stamped feature: “The past day has been wild. It’s felt like a dream, at points, a barrage of surreal images and constant post-James Comey-firing updates.” Schwartz, a fellow newsletter scribe, captures what the news cycle has felt like…

White House says the Russians “tricked us”

CNN’s Jim Acosta reports: “The White House did not anticipate that the Russian government would allow its state news agency to post photographs of an Oval Office meeting between President Donald Trump, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russia’s ambassador to the US, a White House official said.”

“They tricked us,” an angry W.H. official told Acosta. “That’s the problem with the Russians — they lie.”

Melissa McCarthy is getting ready for Saturday night

On Thursday afternoon “SNL” posted this promo of Melissa McCarthy in character as Sean Spicer… standing atop 30 Rock… here’s the video…

IN OTHER NEWS…

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

CNN’s Jill Disis writes: Dan Heyman, the WV reporter who was arrested after shouting questions at health secretary Tom Price, says he’ll fight the charges.

“I was just trying to do my job. I think that they really didn’t need to do that,” Heyman told Chris Cuomo on “New Day.” “They could have told me to back off, to go away…”

For the record, part one
 — 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…

 — ICYMI yesterday: Facebook‘s latest news feed adjustments will downplay “low-quality” web pages… part of the company’s plan to show users “fewer misleading posts, and more informative posts…”

ICYMI last night…

The costs of the Roger Ailes era keep rising

Roger Ailes resigned in the summer of 2016, but Fox News’s parent company 21st Century Fox spent another $10 million on settlements and legal costs in the first three months of 2017. A corporate filing on Wednesday said that the costs were “related to settlements of pending and potential litigations.” All told, including the most recent $10 million, the company has incurred costs of about $45 million relating to the sexual harassment scandal. That # doesn’t include the $40+ million parachute for Ailes… Here’s my full story…

Better news for Fox News…

On a brighter note… Lachlan Murdoch said on Wednesday’s earnings conference call that “Fox News has delivered its highest rated quarter ever,” and he expects that strength “to continue…”
We’ll be back… with a regular nightly edition of the newsletter later today…
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