It seems like we’ve heard that before, but Max Fisher’s words seem as applicable today as ever. We start the week off with news that “A shadow government of Trump political appointees is embedded at every Cabinet agency,” as Ron Brackett tweets of the piece by Juliet Eilperin in The Washington Post, White House installs political aides at Cabinet agencies to be Trump’s eyes and ears (16,000+ shares). “No,” says Keith Olbermann, “this isn't straight out of Russia, 1975.” So explain this: As Kelsey Snell tweets: “Ok...At @DeptofDefense, the nickname for political aide keeping an eye on #Mattis? ‘Commissar.’” Also feeling a 1970s vibe, Carolyn Johnson says, “Wow- all the president's men... and their minders.” “Talk about ‘deep state,’” says Jose DelReal. Asks Subrat Patnaik, “Due diligence or paranoia?” “Meanwhile,” as Steve Kastenbaum points out, “Many top spots remain vacant.”
Speaking of...Sudeep Reddy tweets this, from the POLITICO piece Trump Still Hasn't Done Very Much: “Trump has filled 20 of 553 key positions requiring Senate confirmation — and hasn't picked a nominee for 497 of them.” Says Michael Grunwald, “I wrote about Trump's not-yuge Month Two. Don't mistake activity for achievement, even if it gets clicks.” But it did prompt David Waldman to work up a new nickname: “Couch POTOTUS.”
Advises Josh Rogin, “Read this @SangerNYT dispatch about how Tillerson's treatment of the press is bad for him and bad for diplomacy.” In a piece that Sopan Deb calls “Fascinating from @SangerNYT,” David Sanger writes in The New York Times that Rex Tillerson’s Hope for a Media-Free Bubble May Burst. Says Jay Rosen, “If the Rex Tillerson ‘I don't need the press’ story interests you (it interests me) then this is required context.” Adds John McQuaid, “@SangerNYT patiently explains why it's crazy for the Secretary of State to ignore the media.” Tweets Sanger, “Hard to blame Rex Tillerson for wanting to travel w/o us scruffy reporters on the plane. But there are risks…” Susanne Craig explains, “When America’s top diplomats create a news vacuum adversaries and allies usually fill it with their own narrative.” As Mark Silva says, “This ain't @exxonmobil anymore.”
“Another giant leaves the party.” Peter Khoury reacts to the news that legendary New York City columnist Jimmy Breslin has died. Says Marc Tracy, “Nobody better to report the death and life of Jimmy Breslin than @DanBarryNYT,” so be sure to read Dan Barry’s New York Times obituary, Jimmy Breslin, Legendary New York City Newspaper Columnist, Dies at 88. From the lede: Breslin “leveled the powerful and elevated the powerless for more than 50 years with brick-hard words and a jagged-glass wit.” Says Michael Powell, “Perpetually raging against the night, Brilliant Jimmy Breslin, grand witness for the oppressed & ignored, dies.” Tweets Jim Rutenberg, “If you're a journalist and you've never really read and absorbed Breslin, you're doing it wrong. RIP.” Matthew Hall notes, “With prose that was savagely funny, deceptively simple and poorly imitated, Breslin created his own distinct rhythm.” A widely retweeted quote from the piece: “Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers.” “An absolute legend,” says Gideon Resnick. Tim Scheld adds, “Legend, larger than life. All New York RIP.”
In the New York Daily News, Jason Silverstein and Larry McShane write that the former Daily News columnist leaves “an unparalleled legacy as an unyielding chronicler of his hometown and an inspiration for a generation of writers, reporters and readers left to mourn his loss and envy his unmatched prose.” Says David Corn, "Jimmy Breslin was an original who inspired hundreds of journalists. I was one. I know he won't rest easy.”
Newsday shares three of Breslin’s columns on Donald Trump — from 1990, 1989 and 1988 — “taking note of Trump as a grandmaster of illusion.” Says Nick Fox, “Ow. Breslin 1990: Trump knew ‘you could buy the whole news reporting business in New York City with a return phone call.’” Says Joshua Brown, “Jimmy f***in’ Breslin, 27 years ago had the whole thing nailed. RIP.”
Another legend left us this weekend. Jon Pareles’s obituary in The New York Times for Chuck Berry, Chuck Berry Dies at 90; Helped Define Rock ’n’ Roll (70,000+ shares), reminds us that “Through hits like ‘Sweet Little Sixteen,’ Chuck Berry invented rock as a music of teenage wishes and good times.” For more, check out Peter Guralnick’s piece in Rolling Stone from last October, Why Chuck Berry Is Even Greater Than You Think (44,000+ shares). Richard Williams calls it “A wonderful piece on encounters with Chuck Berry, by the great @PeterGuralnick in Rolling Stone,” and David Shoalts says, “A good explanation of why Chuck Berry matters.”
“Wow that was fast.” David Teicher is reacting to the news that Uber president Jeff Jones is quitting as management turmoil at the ride-hailing company deepens. As reported by Kara Swisher and Johana Bhuiyan for Recode, the No. 2 exec “is leaving after apparently deciding the current controversies are too much to handle.” David L Morris calls it, “Uber implosion - beta V1.0.”
About his piece for BuzzFeed, Russia Critic Sparks Feud At The New York Times, Steven Perlberg tweets, “There's an interesting news vs. opinion section disagreement going on at the Times over @LouiseMensch's op-ed.” Explains Miriam Elder, “NYT reporters are NOT happy about the paper giving op-ed space to @LouiseMensch.” David Uberti says it’s “Worth noting such disagreements b/w news & opinion happen daily or close to it on cable. Different standards.” Borzou Daragahi calls it a “War of the Sources,” but Edmund Lee says, “Nice reporting @perlberg, but @LouiseMensch didn't present tough Qs at hacking inquiry. She threaded the needle.” And Hannah Gais says, “Ack! She's not a 'Russia critic'--she's an unhinged conspiracy theorist.” Parker Molloy agrees, tweeting, “Seriously, people, stop heaping praise on Louise Mensch.”
Michael Slackman recommends that you “Follow @PatrickKingsley as he explores how Turks are navigating the many challenges their country is facing.” Patrick Kingsley introduces parts 2 and 3 of his series in The New York Times on life in contemporary Turkey: “The wife of a writer visits him in jail. An Erdogan loyalist recovers from his wounds.” In The Crackdown, and the Loyalist, he reports that “Turkey arrests so many journalists that one paper hired a shuttle bus service for family to visit jailed relatives,” tweets Alphonso Van Marsh. Adds Teri Weaver, “At least 81 journalists are imprisoned in Turkey right now.”
“Sleepwalking into gloom??” Adam Roberts points to the BBC News report, Article 50: Theresa May to trigger Brexit process next Wednesday. And in their piece for Bloomberg, Tim Ross and Ian Wishart write that the prime minister “will file divorce papers to leave the European Union on March 29, launching two years of complex negotiations that will pit the U.K.’s need for a trade deal against the bloc’s view that Britain shouldn’t benefit from Brexit.”
An interesting AP News piece by David Bauder reveals Sharers rather than authors more important on social media. Jim Kuhnhenn breaks it down this way: “More tribalism: In judging news content, rep & familiarity of sharer who posted matters more than rep of news orgs.”
At NPR, Arnie Seipel and Nina Totenberg report that a former law student of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch alleges the judge told his class that employers should ask women seeking jobs if they plan to have children, implying that “women manipulate companies starting in the interview stage to extract maternity benefits.”
A new Reuters poll finds Almost half of Canadians want illegal border crossers deported, report Rod Nickel and David Ljunggren.
And for something completely different, read David Folkenflik’s story for NPR, Julia, A Muppet With Autism, Joins The Cast Of 'Sesame Street'.