Unnamed cable star reels: Every evening, cable news is selling you The Chase.
At present, The Chase is the principal product these corporate entities are selling. Smiling hosts are paid massive sums to get you to buy the nightly iterations of this exciting product.
Last night was no exception. Our story starts with a nothingburger in today's Washington Post.
The nothingburger appears below the fold on page one of tODAY's hard-copy editions. It bears the byline of three Post reporters.
Headline included, the burger starts like this:
HELDERMAN ET AL (3/10/18): Trump wrote Putin to invite him to '13 pageantThe burger started like that. Just for the record:
Donald Trump was so eager to have Vladimir Putin attend the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow that he wrote a personal letter to the Russian president inviting him to the event, according to multiple people familiar with the document.
At the bottom of the typed letter, Trump scrawled a postscript adding that he looked forward to seeing “beautiful” women during his trip.
The report was sourced to "multiple people." Is the Post allergic to number words? "Multiple" could mean "two!"
Whatever! This front-page report is the farthest thing from being "a bombshell," or even from being "explosive," two attributes cable news stars dearly love.
That said, it did qualify as "breaking news" when it appeared on line last night—and a certain massive cable news star quickly built an intriguing framework around the report.
In the opening minute or her show, she seemed to suggest that a letter like this could only have been sent to Mueller by Vladimir Putin himself, given that it was "typewritten."
This made the Post report seem exciting, intriguing. In seeming to adopt this framework, the star ignored the report's fourth paragraph, in which the reporters wrote this:
"It is unclear whether Trump’s missive was ever delivered to the Russian president."Doggone it! But why mention a disclaimer like that when you have excitement to sell?
At any rate:
Midway through last evening's show, the major star interviewed Rosalind Helderman. She led with her intriguing premise about Trump's letter to Putin, which Helderman quickly shot down.
Almost anyone could have been the source of the typewritten letter, Helderman basically said, giving an explanation for this deflating deduction. She conveyed information which doesn't appear in the actual Post report—a report the Post reporters had padded out to feature length in alternate ways.
Doggone it! The cable star's exciting premise had turned out to be bunk. Still, for one brief shining half hour, her viewers enjoyed Camelot!
This type of bullshit occurs every night of the week as we're sold The Chase. The children want exciting new angles to sell you each night. They're skillful at dreaming them up.
So it was this past Wednesday night when the children promoted the latest New York Times report about Donald J. Trump and McGahn. For one brief shining evening on cable, this report by the routinely slippery Haberman/Schmidt was treated as a version of Camelot.
By last night, that thrilling report was largely forgotten—for good reason, we'd say.
The Wednesday night New York Times report appeared in Thursday's hard-copy editions. It didn't make the Times front page—it was buried rather deep in the National section—but it helped our cable news tars make it through Wednesday night.
That report weas largely a nothingburger too; it left a wide array of facts unresolved. Still, everyone expressed excitement on cable that night. They were selling us The Chase, and this was the latest nightly product.
That Times report continued the saga of Trump and Don McGahn. We've decided to push it back again, in deference to last night's version of The Chase.
After reading the Times report, we have little clear idea what actually happened between Trump and McGahn. Nor do we feel real clear about why we're supposed to care.
That said, it helped the gang on cable news sell us The Chase that night. On Monday, barring some other intrusion, we'll plan to walk you through this latest murky report.
Concerning this morning's nothingburger, the burger has been swollen in size with plenty of mustard and lettuce. The actual burger is very small, but one star skillfully found a way to serve it last night.