Wallace's friends go to work: We took our question, late last night, to a spokesperson for Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM), the trademarked yet despondent group which communicates with us from the years which follow Mister Trump's War through the peculiar nocturnal submissions the haters refer to as dreams.
Our question went exactly like this:
Are cable pundits human?
Top anthropologists are sadly aware of the twists and turns of that naive question. In this instance, our question had been triggered by two journalistic events:
Yesterday morning, we read Schmidt and Savage's front-page report in the New York Times about that now-famous voicemail, the voicemail left by Trump lawyer John Dowd for one of Michael Flynn's lawyers.
(For our background report, click here.)
Yesterday morning, we read that Times report. Yesterday afternoon, we watched Nicolle Wallace and "some of [her] favorite reporters and friends" perform their standard vaudeville act about that report and that topic.
Let's start with the Schmidt/Savage front-page report in the Times. In our view, they didn't go out of their way to do Dowd any major favors. To cite one example, they shoehorned Joyce Vance in early.
But in a move you'll never see on Wallace's daily Propaganda Parade, they actually reported that there is more than one possible way to view this episode. Their misconduct started with this:
SCHMIDT AND SAVAGE (6/10/19): One way of interpreting the episode is that Mr. Dowd was telling Mr. Flynn not to provide the government with damaging information about Mr. Trump even if he cooperated in other ways, and suggesting that Mr. Trump might reward his loyalty with a pardon."The message was ambiguous?" Trust us! You'll never be exposed to any such statement from the possibly unhuman Wallace and her zombified favorites and friends!
But the message was ambiguous. Mr. Dowd never mentioned pardons specifically. The Mueller report said only that the call and other events “could have had the potential to affect Flynn’s decision to cooperate, as well as the extent of that cooperation.”
By contrast, the report is far more explicit about Mr. Trump’s conduct toward his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort...
As they continued, Schmidt and Savage even quoted legal experts saying there was more than one way to view Dowd's conduct. Here again, this type of behavior violates cable rules.
In the passage shown below, the reporters are quoting Stanford law professor David Sklansky. Much as we did last Saturday, Sklansky and a second professor say it's somewhat hard to know what the barely conscious Dowd was actually talking about:
SCHMIDT AND SAVAGE (continuing directly): Analyzing the episode begins with trying to make sense of what Mr. Dowd was saying in his circular, halting way, legal experts said.Sklansky and Buell each seem to have said that Dowd's "circular, halting" remarks are "difficult-to-parse." In the lengthy report's final paragraph, Buell made things even worse:
His message might be interpreted “as a thinly veiled offer of a pardon conditioned on Flynn keeping his mouth shut,” Mr. Sklansky said.
If so, he said, that would amount to obstruction of justice, and any conversations between the president and Mr. Dowd about sending such a message to Mr. Flynn would no longer be protected by attorney-client privilege because they would be considered part of a crime. In that case, a judge might have ordered Mr. Dowd to comply with a subpoena to disclose the discussions.
However, Mr. Sklansky stressed, all of that depends on two things that remain unclear: whether that is the correct interpretation of Mr. Dowd’s remarks and whether Mr. Trump in fact told him to send that message with corrupt intent. And because Mr. Dowd would certainly have invoked attorney-client privilege to avoid voluntarily answering questions about those interactions, he said, it would mean a lengthy subpoena fight in court for his testimony.
It was probably not worth it for Mr. Mueller’s investigators to take on that challenge—especially if all they had to make the case to a judge were their suspicions about a difficult-to-parse statement, said Samuel W. Buell, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches criminal law at Duke University.
SCHMIDT AND SAVAGE: Mr. Buell also noted that it was common for defense lawyers to fish around for information that might be helpful to their client, and while Mr. Dowd’s comments may have walked “somewhat dangerously close to the line,” Mr. Buell’s assessment was that “it strikes me as veiled enough that it’s nothing a prosecutor could base a witness-tampering charge on.”Oof! Dowd's remarks are "nothing a prosecutor could base a witness-tampering charge on?”
For ourselves, we have no way of knowing if Buell's legal assessment is right. We can guarantee you of this—you'll never hear an assessment like that during Wallace's Brainwash Hour.
Yesterday afternoon, Wallace turned her favorites loose on this topic. Former prosecutor Berit Berger performed the same song-and-dance that former prosecutor Mimi Rocah had performed for Brian Williams last Thursday night.
To watch Berger's exchange with Wallace, click here, move to the 9:30 mark.
As required by Manchurian Pundit Corps Law, Berger told Wallace that actually hearing the audiotape of the voicemail, rather than merely reading its text, really sold her, in "sort of this 'Oh my goodness' moment," about all the "witness tampering here." This is precisely the same foolishness Rocah sold Williams last Thursday, with Gene Robinson obediently playing along.
Needless to say, Wallace had already made the mandatory "it sounds like a scene out of Goodfellas" comment. These people simply never stop selling the story they want you to buy. These are the skills and behaviors the grinning, laughing, perpetually entertained and delighted Wallace once used to talk our nation into war with Iraq.
Like an understudy replacing a star, Berger flawlessly performed the Rocah role. This is the way these strange scripted beings convinced the world, long ago, that Al Gore said he invented the Internet, inspired Love Story and discovered Love Canal.
Nothing stops these creatures from repeating the stories on which they've settled as a guild. It's especially disturbing to see this type of robotic behavior from people like Berger and Rocah, who once held so much power as federal prosecutors sending people to jail.
One other point:
Last Thursday, Wallace played the full audiotape of the Dowd voicemail. The audiotape had just become available. She played the whole darn thing.
Yesterday, Wallace played the "edited" version of the audiotape. Dowd's comment about not wanting to receive any confidential information is still missing from the tape, in the manner we noted in our earlier report.
Late last evening, we asked the future anthropologists how we should understand behavior of this type.
"Are they actually human?" we foolishly asked. Despondent scholars from the future sadly stared off into space.