Media Buzz

‘Like Two Rats In a Bag’

Rick Wilson: “Steve Bannon’s spectacular fall from grace in Trump World is a big, salty, delicious bowl of schadenfreude from the political gods in celebration of the new year.”

“Bannon wasn’t just one of Trump’s most senior aides and an architect of the destruction of the Republican Party; he was the multi-shirted, red-eyed White House troll, leaking tales of his brilliance to a constellation of reporters in the ostensibly hated mainstream media. His house organ Breitbart and a host of Trump-right websites and news outlets sang praises to his dank genius. Bannon, they proclaimed, was Trumpism in its distilled essence: revanchist, ahistorical, racially inflected, and consumed with an imaginary war on the media and America’s broader society.”

“Now, like two rats in a bag, Trump and Bannon are tearing at one another in a delicious public spat that has every possible bit of drama, except Bannon drunkenly bellowing for a round of fisticuffs with all comers and Trump offering to compare the length of their relative manhoods on live television. They deserve one another in so many ways.”

The Trump-Fox Feedback Loop

Matthew Gertz: “Everyone has a theory about Trump’s hyper-aggressive early morning tweetstorms. Some think they are a deliberate ploy the president uses to distract the press from his administration’s potential weaknesses, or to frame the public debate to his liking. Others warn his rapid shifts from one topic to another indicate mental instability.”

“But my many hours following the president’s tweets for Media Matters for America, the progressive media watchdog organization, have convinced me the truth is often much simpler: The president is just live-tweeting Fox, particularly the network’s Trump-loving morning show, Fox & Friends.”

For members: Rupert Murdoch Controls What Trump Thinks

Bannon May Be Ousted from Breitbart

President Trump’s growing feud with Steve Bannon is threatening the former White House strategist’s leadership of the conservative Breitbart News website and upending Bannon’s plans to wage “war” on party incumbents he deemed insufficiently loyal to the White House agenda, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Mr. Bannon’s longtime benefactors, billionaires Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer, are actively distancing from him… They and other Breitbart News Network LLC board members on Thursday were debating whether to oust Mr. Bannon as chairman, with many supportive of the move.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post notes Rebekah Mercer issued a rare public statement: “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements.”

Mercer Pulls Away from Bannon

Washington Post: “Bannon has in recent weeks also alienated his main financial backer, Rebekah Mercer, after he told several other major conservative donors that he would be able to count on the Mercers’ financial support should he run for president, a person familiar with the conversations said.

“The person said Mercer now does not plan to financially support Bannon’s future projects — and that she was frustrated by his moves in Alabama and some of his comments in the news media that seemed to stoke unnecessary fights. A person close to Bannon said he was not running for president. Bannon and Mercer declined to comment through representatives.”

Mike Allen confirms Bannon has told friends he’d run for president in 2020 if Trump does not.

Thiel May Create New Conservative News Network

“Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel wants to create a new conservative cable news network and his representatives have engaged the powerful Mercer family to help with funding,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“Thiel, a Facebook board member who secretly funded lawsuits to bring down Gawker Media, had originally explored a plan to create the network along with Roger Ailes, the late founder of Fox News, according to a soon-to-be published book by journalist Michael Wolff. But BuzzFeed News has learned that Thiel has continued looking into fashioning a Fox News competitor even after May 2017 death of Ailes.”

The Year the News Accelerated

New York Times: “One year out, this may be Mr. Trump’s greatest trick: His tornado of news-making has scrambled Americans’ grasp of time and memory, producing a sort of sensory overload that can make even seismic events — of his creation or otherwise — disappear from the collective consciousness and public view.”

“He is the magician who swallows a sword no one thought was part of the act, stuffs a dozen rabbits into a hat before the audience can count them — and then merrily tweets about ‘Fox & Friends’ while the crowd strains to remember what show it had paid to attend in the first place.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes. Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win.”

— President Trump, in an interview with the New York Times.

The Anti-Mueller Feedback Loop

Brian Stelter: “An anti-Robert Mueller, anti-FBI fervor is intensifying among Trump supporters — partly thanks to a campaign by Fox News and other conservative media sources.”

“The right-wing commentary and President Trump’s criticism of the FBI are part of a vicious circle. The TV hosts encourage Trump, then Trump supplies sound bites for their shows, and then the hosts are even more emboldened.”

Reuters: Trump allies say Mueller unlawfully obtained thousands of emails.

Former Congressman Fired from Job

Former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) has been fired for misconduct by Morgan Stanley after facing a human resources investigation into allegations of misconduct, the HufffPost reports.

“In two interviews… the woman alleged that Ford engaged in harassment, intimidation, and forcibly grabbed her one evening in Manhattan, leading her to seek aid from a building security guard. The incident took place several years ago when Ford and the woman were supposed to be meeting for professional reasons.”

ABC News Suspends Reporter

“ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross was suspended for four weeks without pay tonight over his incorrect report that Michael Flynn was prepared to testify that Donald Trump told him to contact the Russians during his presidential campaign,” Axios reports.

“The network later corrected the report to say that Trump gave him that instruction as president-elect — which is a big difference, since there’s nothing unusual about newly elected presidents contacting foreign governments.”

Matt Lauer Fired Over Misconduct Allegations

“NBC has fired its leading morning news anchor Matt Lauer over sexual harassment allegations,” the New York Times reports.

A memo said it was the first complaint lodged against Lauer, but that “we were also presented with reason to believe this my not have been an isolated” incident.

Lauer’s dismissal was seized upon by President Trump, who asked in a tweet when executives at NBC would “be fired for putting out so much fake news.”

CNN Won’t Attend White House Christmas Party

Adding fuel to its growing feud with President Trump, CNN told Politico it will be boycotting the White House Christmas party for the media this year.

From a statement: “In light of the President’s continued attacks on freedom of the press and CNN, we do not feel it is appropriate to celebrate with him as his invited guests. We will send a White House reporting team to the event and report on it if news warrants.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders responded: “Christmas comes early! Finally, good news from CNN.”