erik lundegaard


Sunday July 22, 2018

Extraordinary! Really Wild Ride!

More NPR. I know. Apologies. You picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue. 

So here's Korva Coleman on “Weekend Edition: Sunday” this morning, explaining the week we just went through:

Last week, by almost any measure, was an extraordinary one for news. The meeting between Pres. Putin and Trump in Helsinki reverberated throughout the week and particularly on Capitol Hill:

  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA, 28): “This was a wholesale betrayal of the values and interests in this country.”
  • Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): “It made us look as a nation more like a pushover.”
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “I think the Russians need to know that there are a lot of us who fully understand what happened in 2016, and it better not happen again in 2018.” *

NPR's Mara Liasson is here to help us process the past week and prepare for the next one. Good morning, Mara. 

Hi, Corva.

Mara, the post-Helsinki week was a really wild ride, full of clarifications and walkbacks from the president, and meanwhile Putin and the Russians appear to be defining the post-summit narrative. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will go to the Hill this week to talk to members of Congress. What will they want to know?

* For more and how much Mitch knew about Russian interference in the 2016 election, please consult this Dec. 2016 Washington Post article. Please. 

Sigh. How horrifying does a week have to be before NPR will call it horrifying? How embarrassing before it's embarrassing? Instead, what adjectives do we get? “Extraordinary” and “a really wild ride.” They could be advertising the roller coaster at Six Flags. How would they describe Kristallnacht? Amazing? Astounding? A helluva party? 

Oh, and NPR is still saying Trump is clarifying when he's obfuscating. I guess that‘ll never go away. 

As for perspective, Mara doesn’t tell us much we don't already know. Putin and Trump met for an hour, alone, and what came out of that no one knows. Putin offered to let federal agents interrogate the 12 indicted Russians (currently safe in Russia) if we fly a former U.S. ambassador to him to interrogate, which is both shocking and, to Pres. Trump, “an incredible offer.” Trump also wants to meet Putin in the U.S. in September. I doubt Republicans up for re-election are enthused about that. 

For true perspective, I'd recommend Andrew Sullivan's most recent column (Trump actually believes what he says; i.e., he wants a zero-sum game where the powerful bully the weak, and NATO and western values are meaningless because they don't let us do that); and Adam Davidson's New Yorker piece, “A Theory of Trump Kompromat” (Putin isn't dictating to Trump; Trump simply believes the Russians have something on him—probably financial—and is acting accordingly).

See you next week. I'm sure by Friday NPR will be calling it “exceptional.”

Posted at 02:30 PM on Sunday July 22, 2018 in category Media