FRIDAY, AUGUST 24, 2018
When Kellyanne met Chris: We just had the great misfortune of watching Chris Cuomo's attempt to interview Kellyanne Conway on CNN last night.
The interview started at 9:02 Eastern. It ran, without interruption, until 9:33.
Kellyanne is always terrible. Arguably, Cuomo was worse.
By the end of the session, the two interlocutors were each speaking, almost completely without interruption, over and on top of each other. Cuomo, whose skin was inordinately thin this night, completely failed to establish control over the conduct of the utterly pointless session.
For CNN's attempt to transcribe this mess, you can just click here. Due to the constant double-talking, the transcript looks like a long, thin, super-experimental effort by e. e. cummings.
Cuomo had only one focus throughout the embarrassing session. He wanted Conway to admit that Donald J. Trump has been "lying" when he says he didn't know about the payments to Karen McDougal and Stephanie Clifford "until later."
Cuomo kept insisting that Trump has been lying about this. He seemed to think it sufficed to say that this is what the Washington Post has said.
Conway didn't agree. She insisted that Trump hasn't been lying, or even misstating, about these matters. And we're only talking about two matters here: 1) the payment to McDougal, and 2) the payment to Clifford.
You'd almost think that, in 31 minutes, the pair of interlocutors could have hashed these two matters out. But Cuomo, in his fury and in the vast incompetence which resulted, never asked Conway to explain her claim that Trump didn't know about the payment to McDougal until later.
With respect to the payment to Clifford, Cuomo seemed to be relying on Glenn Kessler's analysis in yesterday morning's Post. But Kessler seems to be completely confused about the basic chronology there.
What would Conway's position have been had she been forced to explain herself by a competent journalist? We'll guess she would have said this:
The payment to McDougal
Please note. Neither Cohen nor Trump made the actual payment to McDougal. The actual payment to McDougal was made by AMI, parent company to the National Enquirer, apparently in early August 2016. AMI was repaid for the payment by Cohen, apparently in September 2016 (or later). We know of no evidence showing that Trump knew about AMI's payment at the time it was made.
(This doesn't strike us as a hugely significant point. But it's the point Cuomo thundered about all through the embarrassing session.)
The payment to Clifford
Regarding the payment to Clifford, Conway seemed much clearer on the basic chronology than Cuomo did. As far as we know, there is no evidence showing that Trump knew about this payment at the time it was made. Kessler seems to be completely confused about the basic chronology—but then, so does the bulk of the mainstream press.
For ourselves, we don't know what Donald Trump knew at any particular point in time. As long as journalists behave the way Cuomo did last night, there's little chance anyone will ever find out, absent legal proceedings.
Kellyanne is always terrible; Cuomo's absurd performance last night may have been even worse. Kessler has completely lost the thread of the chronology regarding the payment to Clifford.
This is your press corps' brain on stampede. It's a pitiful sight.
Tomorrow: Has Lanny ever spoken to Michael at all? Excerpts from the transcript of Anderson Cooper's session with Lanny Davis