Should Roger Stone go to jail?: For our money, Colbert King's new column is more significant (see below).
That said, a different question dominated anti-Trump cable last night: Should Roger Stone go to prison?
For ourselves, we'd like to see fewer people in prison. We'd like to see fewer arrests.
Something else is true. You're allowed to hear it in this context, but only if you watch Fox:
Due to the virus, many others are being released from prison even as we speak. Even as the nationwide average daily death count rose again yesterday.
None of this tells us whether Stone should have gone to prison next week. Roger Stone has always been nuts. But should he be going to jail?
Last night, Brian Williams asked Frank Figliuzzi a version of that question. If the transcript ever shows up, it will show up here.
Figliuzzi has been one of the best of the many former prosecutors and law enforcement officials seen on cable in recent years. We were struck by several aspects of his answer to Williams:
FIGLIUZZI (7/10/20): Lest anyone feel any sympathy for this man, let's just spend a minute recalling what he was convicted of, and why the president had to commute his sentence.First, a point of clarification:
Roger Stone tried to subvert, undermine our presidential election system. And he did so in concert with two foreign entities, namely, there's evidence indicating that he was the intermediary between the Russian intelligence unit known as Guccifer and the Wikileaks organization.
And I'll point to federal court testimony by Rick Gates, the former deputy chairman of the Trump 2016 campaign, who said in court, I was riding in a Chevy Suburban with Trump to LaGuardia Airport. Trump took a call from Roger Stone. They appeared to talk about Wikileaks and the release of the hacked material from the DNC.
When Trump ended the call, he turned to Gates and said, They're going to release more information.
This is why Trump had to commute Roger Stone. Roger Stone can put Donald Trump in federal prison for lying. Lying when? Lying in his written responses to the special counsel when the president told Robert Mueller, I never heard about Roger Stone talking to anybody about the timing or the release of the hacked DNC/Clinton material.
We assume Figliuzzi meant that Stone was the intermediary between Guccifer and the Trump campaign, and also between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign. We assume he didn't mean that Stone was the intermediary between Guccifer and Wikileaks.
Now to the basic assertions by Figliuzzi, an extremely respectable figure:
We'll admit that we were initially struck by the word "appeared." It appeared to Gates, a less than fully reliable figure who was looking for a break from prosecutors, that Trump had spoken to Stone about the release of the hacked material?
A jury, of course, convicted Stone on seven counts on the basis of the evidence it was offered at trial. That said, we were struck by the idea that this was the strongest evidence showing that Stone should be going to prison.
Beyond that, we were struck by the claim that Stone had subverted the election system—even that he'd been convicted for doing that.
For the record, Stone wasn't convicted of subverting or undermining our election system. He was convicted on six counts of testifying falsely and on one count of witness tampering.
Would Stone have been "subverting our system" if he merely told Trump that more emails were going to be released?
That strikes us as a vast overstatement, especially coming from within the mainstream press corps, which pleasured itself so dumbly and so irresponsibly by mugging and clowning with the stolen emails while pretending that they were significant. They can play reindeer games with the emails. Stone can't even mention them!
Could Stone send Donald J. Trump to prison? Before Trump's massive derangement helped mire this nation in the ongoing pandemic, two of our cable news channels ran on such fever dreams for the bulk of two years.
Figliuzzi has been one of the most respectable, and most intelligent, of these many dreamers. For ourselves, we favor seeing fewer people in prison, and we favor something else, although it will never occur:
We favor people like Williams reporting the various ways his ridiculous guild slandered Candidate Clinton for decades, eventually sending Candidate Trump to the White House.
That dream will never be realized, of course. But it isn't a fever dream.
Cable pundits were very upset about the commutation. William Barr even got in the act. On Thursday, he said the prosecution was righteous and the sentence was fair.
We're not even saying that's wrong. Stone has been crazy for years.
At any rate, everyone was upset by the commutation. That said, before the commutation was announced, the gang was having some good solid fun with Trump's recent ridiculous statement about the unbelievable way he aced the cognitive test.
On Deadline White House, Wallace and Heilemann even seemed to pretend that this was some sort of new revelation. It fell to the Post's Ashley Parker to remind them that this ridiculous episode was reported and discussed long ago.
As you can see through the link below, the pundits were having some fun with that. In his new column in the Washington Post, Colbert King reminds us of a topic they weren't talking about.
He reminds us of a topic they won't be talking about. Her reminds us of a topic they don't seem to care about.
Liberal cable doesn't seem to care a great deal about kids like Davon McNeal, Makiyah Wilson and Karon Brown, or about the various systems which haven't been able to protect them. Such kids don't get discussed on our favorite TV shows.
They do get discussed in Colbert King's columns, and it happens again today. Along the way, King even sends a poison pen letter to his own upper-end guild:
KING (7/11/20): We ended 2019 with a decade-high number of homicides [in Washington, D.C.]. With 94 people killed in the city thus far this year, we are on pace to top last year’s 166 killings.Oof. According to King, the upper-end press corps is "churning out nonstop stories" about "race and reckoning."
Yes, the novel coronavirus is crippling the country. Yes, there are Black Lives Matter protests. And, yes, there are those “race and reckoning” stories being churned out nonstop by a guilt-stricken, algorithm-driven media.
But there are people in this city shattered by crime who don’t make the front page or lead the nightly news. Hundreds of children who are trying to cope with the trauma and pain of growing up in violence-filled neighborhoods. Girls and boys who put on brave faces but are scared to death of going to and from school or out to play where crime has taken hold and won’t go away.
They're doing so, this ranking guild member says, because they're guilt-stricken, but also because they're algorithm-driven.
That seems to mean that they're doing so in something resembling bad faith. We've had the same impression ourselves. We've suggested that possibility here.
Yesterday, Nicolle and John wanted to laugh and play and talk about Trump's latest ridiculous statement—his ridiculous statement about the cognitive test he aced. Yesterday afternoon, they were having some good fun with that.
(Click here, move ahead to the 7:40 mark.)
They weren't discussing the lives and the interests of the children King names in his column. As for King's newspaper, it publishes "algorithm driven" material of this type, letting readers think that the Post is discussing the educational interests of black and Hispanic kids.
(That wasn't the reporter's fault; she's in her first year out of college. Does the Post have any experienced reporters who deal with subjects like this?)
Watching cable in recent years. we've learned at least one thing. Former federal prosecutors love to discuss the endless ways they can get people locked up.
Also, people like Wallace and Heilemann like to laugh and play. They just don't seem to spend much time on kids like Davon McNeal.
People do hear about those kids on the Fox News Channel. Such reports may be accompanied by crazy assessments—much more so from Tucker Carlson than from Laura Ingraham.
But viewers do hear about those kids. On our channels, the algorithms don't seem to take us there.
We'd like to hear more about those kids—about their safety. about their schooling, about the systems which aren't protecting them. We'd like to hear how good they are—but on cable, those kids don't count.
We've been telling you this for years. No, it's not going to change.