Their skills are amazingly limited: We plan to discuss General Kelly's highly unusual press statement tomorrow.
On the merits, if not on the tone, we thought Lawrence was strongly on target last night, criticizing Kelly's belittling attacks on Rep. Frederica Wilson. To watch his long statement, click here.
(Does Katty Kay write Kelly's stuff? We ask that after watching Kay's scolding treatment of Wilson on Wednesday's Morning Joe.)
Rep. Wilson may not be a perfect messenger; neither is anyone else. Then again, it sounds to us like she's done some outstanding things in Miami.
All that said, we were amazed by Michael Shear's formulation in a front-page news report in this morning's New York Times. Where on earth—where in the world—do they get these journalists?
SHEAR (10/20/17): [Kelly] said Mr. Trump was merely trying to express what Mr. Kelly had discussed with the president before the phone call—that soldiers like Sergeant Johnson were doing what they loved, and what they had chosen to do, when they were killed serving the country.According to Shear, Kelly "not[ed] that, during an emotional 2015 ceremony, a congresswoman had crassly claimed political credit for getting funding for an F.B.I. building in Miami." What a sad choice of words!
“That’s what the president tried to say to four families,” Mr. Kelly said. He later appeared to attack Ms. Wilson by noting that, during an emotional 2015 ceremony, a congresswoman had crassly claimed political credit for getting funding for an F.B.I. building in Miami that was named for fallen agents. Ms. Wilson’s congressional district includes parts of Miami.
“And we were stunned—stunned that she’d done it,” Mr. Kelly recalled, though he did not name Ms. Wilson. “Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.”
Shear could have said that Kelly "charged," "opined," "claimed" or "said" that the congresswoman—who was, in fact, Rep. Wilson—had made a crass presentation that day.
Instead, he said that Kelly "noted" that Wilson had done this. For those of us still speaking English, that means that it actually happened!
What an unfortunate choice of words from a top-shelf journalist! We'll assume that Shear wrote something else, and that some editor changed it.
As Lawrence noted last night, Kelly's comments about Wilson were extremely belittling. We decided to check the press coverage of the 2015 ceremony where he said she had been so crass.
Within the Nexis archive, there isn't much reporting on the event. But at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Linda Trischitta reported what the keynote speaker said.
TRISCHITTA (4/11/15): New FBI headquarters dedicated to slain agentsDid Wilson pull an attention-grab that day? Everything is possible, but we find no record of that.
Survivors rely upon rituals, symbols and memories when someone dies, and during the FBI's dedication of its new Miramar headquarters to two fallen agents Friday, a hymn was performed, funny and horrifying stories were shared and prayers were offered.
The powerful—from Congress, the military and law enforcement—came before an audience of 2,000 to pay tribute to Benjamin Grogan, 53, and Jerry Dove, 30, who died in a 1986 shootout where six other agents also came under fire.
The fierce but airy 380,000-square-foot building that recycles sunlight and water on a 20-acre campus is named for the fallen agents. It is expected to cost $194 million and stands along Southwest 145th Avenue and the east side of Interstate 75.
The building is made of exposed concrete and glass that reflects surrounding wetlands. It accommodates 1,000 bureau employees who were previously based in North Miami Beach and leased offices in the region, the U.S. General Services Administration said.
Now called the Benjamin P. Grogan and Jerry L. Dove Federal Building, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, was credited with pushing naming legislation through Congress in four weeks that was signed Tuesday by President Barack Obama in time for Friday's ceremonies.
"Rep. Wilson truly did the impossible, and we are eternally grateful," FBI Director James Comey said.
That said, James B. Comey—Comey the god—said he was eternally grateful for Wilson's work in getting the building named in time for them to honor the fallen agents. Maybe he was just being polite. But given Kelly's unpleasant remarks, attention should be paid!
Kelly said he and the others were stunned. Comey said something constructive.
The Times report also said this: As he continued his report, Shear also said this:
SHEAR: Mr. Kelly said that Mr. Trump had not intended to suggest during an impromptu White House news conference on Monday that his predecessor, President Barack Obama, had not done enough to honor the fallen. Mr. Trump’s words incensed former Obama administration officials.Did Kelly actually say that about Trump's intentions? We see nothing in the transcript or tape which supports that statement.
Kelly said Trump didn't intend to make that suggestion? We have no idea why Shear, and his editors, would state that as a fact about what Kelly said.
Skill levels are amazingly weak in our upper-end press corps. This constitutes a very large problem. It helps explain how we all got to this very dangerous place.