An emoji, an emoji, my kingdom for an emoji
Pardon me, but Jesus:
That's how Haaretz's Chemi Shalev responds to a new NBC News report revealing that "Putin personally directed how hacked material from Democrats was leaked and otherwise used." (59,000 shares). Shalev also adds that the "FBI agreed Putin was trying to harm Clinton, but Comey released his damning letter nonetheless."
The Washington Post's self-described "conservative blogger" Jennifer Rubin is more pointed with her skepticism, implying that the report is to some extent retaliatory against the president-elect: "ooooh boy... Putin personally involved, intelligence folks say. Trump is getting his comeuppance for insulting Intel."
But conservatives aren't alone in their criticism of the report. Jordan Chariton of The Young Turks—which characterizes itself as "progressive"—had some sharp words for William M. Arkin, Ken Dilanian, and Cynthia McFadden, the trio of journalists who produced the report for NBC News: "This type of reckless 'reporting' is how we beat drum 4 eventual war. Let's just report ANYTHING CIA says as fact!"
This seems almost too good to be true
So says Brian Fung of The Washington Post in response to our 2nd top news article of the day—though unlike the previous item, which was met with skepticism due to arguably thin sourcing, this story sounds too crazy to be believed only untl you remember it's 2016, the Craziest Year Of All Time™. In that case? It makes perfect sense.
According to Politico (18,000 shares), there's a reason that Twitter—despite the immeasurable value the service offered Trump throughout his campaign—wasn't invited to the president-elect's big tech summit: "Twitter wouldn't make Trump a 'Crooked Hillary' emoji so they got bounced from Trump tech summit," tweets Anne Helen Peterson of BuzzFeed.
Trump grills journalists
At nearly 10,000 shares, a scathing review of Trump Grill written yesterday by Tina Nguyen of The Hive (she says it "could be the worst restaurant in America") is one of the most popular stories right now in the Muckrack Newsroom. It's a hilarious piece—ESPN's Kavitha Davidson says it's "officially supplanted Pete Wells on Guy Fieri as my favorite restaurant review ever"—but that's not the main reason so many journalists are sharing it...
As the Los Angeles Times' Matt Pearce points out, in the wee hours of the morning, sometime after Nguyen's review made the rounds, Trump tweeted some nasty remarks about The Hive's parent magazine Vanity Fair and its editor-in-chief Graydon Carter. "No talent, will be out!" Trump fumed.
"Seems like Trump is going to use the office of the presidency to attack journalists who criticize his private businesses," tweeted Pearce.
In a way, the joke's still on Trump. As Vox's Alissa Wilkinson suggests, the president-elect has inadvertently made himself a victim of the so-called "Streisand Effect," drawing more attention the negative review than it would have perhaps otherwise received: "Thank you to PEOTUS for drawing my attention to this excellent review," Wilkinson tweets.
As for the review itself, it's full of marvelous lines. But this one, quoted by VICE's Justin Rorhlich on Twitter, was perhaps our favorite: "Our waiter, coiffed and charming, was determined to gaslight us into thinking we were having a good time."
In other news:
Though most saw it coming that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler would step down—just like his predecessors whenever a new president took the White House—the news is of vital importance and urgency to net neutrality activists. Victor Luckerson of The Ringer explains why: "The chairman brought net neutrality back from the dead, but Donald Trump may try to kill it off again."
Donald Trump had promised to clarify his role as a businessman during his presidency, planning to address in a press conference the multitude of conflicts reported by countless news outlets over the past few weeks. He canceled the press conference. So NPR's Evan Vucci engages in something like "political journalist fan fiction," listing 6 Questions We Would Have Asked Donald Trump At His Canceled Press Conference. "Explains the importance of pressers," tweets Samuel Howard of the Orlando Sun-Sentinel.
"Mostly Men, Mostly White and Not Much Government Experience" is how Bloomberg charaterizes Trump's Cabinet, visualizing these attributes in a series of graphics. "Another fantastic data viz from Bloomberg: Trump's $6 billion cabinet looks a lot like him," tweets Stephanie Baker of Bloomberg. To put an even finer point on it, Quartz's Dan Kopf reports that Trump's first 17 Cabinet picks are richer than a third of U.S. households combined. "Can we please coin a word for "rule by old rich white guys?" asks his colleague Gideon Lichfield. "I vote for leukogerontoarsenicoplutocracy."
"Shining example of why local journalism matters," tweets the Detroit Free Press' Robert Allen, who links to a positively horrifying expose from the Indianapolis Star's Tim Evans, Mark Alesia, and Marisa Kwiatkowski who reveal that over a 20-year period, 368 gymnasts—at least one as young as six-years-old—have alleged being raped, photographed nude, or otherwise sexually exploited and abused.
"This story is just devastating," says The Wall Street Journal's Matthew Rose, linking to his colleague Jeanne Whalen's story on the children whose lives have been effecitvely destroyed by America's opioid crisis. Rose adds, "If the opioid crisis feels like an abstraction, the stories of the kids--the collateral damage--will bring it home.
Okay, we're trying to end things on a lighter note, really we are... but, seriously, this is the best we can do: Tampa Bay Times' "How the plan to fix the Howard Frankland Bridge fell apart, told in Legos." Yes, it's a bummer tale of municipal mismanagement and malfeasance. But hey! At least it's built in Legos, right? Guess that's what passes for "news that doesn't make us want to stab ourselves in the eyeballs" in 2016.