The story you need in these confounding times

DC is in an uproar, people are taking sides and the Twitter feuds are on fire. Yes, we’re talking about Duck Ramps Appear at U.S. Capitol, but Not Everyone Is Pleased (11,700+ shares), as reported by Liam Stack in The New York Times. Or as Stack himself tweets, “ugh forget it here's a story about ducks.” Says Julie Davis, “The story you need in these confounding times.” Do yourself a favor and read it. As Dave Levinthal tweets, it’s “The @nytimes, giving zero ducks with this lede.”

Well, there goes the news cycle. Again

OK, so on to that other big story. Yesterday’s breaking news (as Margaret Menefee notes, “Every day at 5:20ish”) came in the form of this scoop from Michael Schmidt of The New York Times, Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation. Schmidt’s reporting has since been confirmed by NBC, The Associated Press, the Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

Either there’s a caps lock epidemic, or this story has generated quite a bit of tweet shouting. Some highlights: SIREN. BOMBSHELL. BLOCKBUSTER. READ THIS NOW. FLAG. PAPER TRAIL. You get the idea. “The news keeps breaking,” says Kenneth Silber. Jennifer Steinhauer calls it simply, “Bombshell du jour.” “Well, there goes the news cycle. Again,” says Nolan Hicks.

Overlooked by many in the discussion about potential obstruction of justice was another bombshell revelation, as Schmidt tweets, “Buried in our story: Trump said to Comey that he should consider putting reporters in prison.” In his piece, In a private meeting, President Trump allegedly urged Comey to imprison journalists, Benjamin Mullin of Poynter quotes Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, who says it’s "a disturbing yet unsurprising culmination of Trump's war on the press.”

It’s worth pointing out that Newt Gingrich, for one, sees no problem here. In POLITICO, Josh Dawsey reports that Gingrich urges Trump to shut down White House press room. As Blake Hounshell elaborates: “Newt Gingrich says Trump should shut down the press briefing and let the media sit in a nearby Starbucks.”

Also potentially lost in this news cycle, another big scoop, this time from Julie Pace at the AP: Trump transition handling of classified info raised concern. As Pace tweets, “2 former US officials say Trump transition team moved classified info between locations in DC without permission.” Notes Tim O'Brien, “Of particular concern: ‘the handling of documents related to the government’s contingency plans for crises.’” Can we please go back to the ducks?

But in case you forgot what all the excitement was about a mere two days ago, Intelligence Trump Shared With Russia Was From Israel, Officials Say, report Shane Harris and Carol Lee in The Wall Street Journal. Adam Goldman, Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo have the story for The New York Times, Israel Was Source of Secret Intelligence That Trump Gave to Russians, Officials Say, and BuzzFeed’s Sheera Frenkel writes, Israeli Official: Trump Sharing Intelligence With Russia Is “Worst Fears Confirmed.” At ABC News, Brian Ross, James Gordon Meek and Randy Kreider report, Trump's disclosure endangered spy placed inside ISIS by Israel, officials say.

And about that meeting...Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post writes Inside the Oval Office with Trump and the Russians: Broad smiles and loose lips. Philip Rucker notes, “How did Trump end up in the Oval with Russians talking about intelligence? Putin called in a favor.” The Wall Street Journal’s take? Loose Lips Sink Presidencies.

So what really went on in that meeting? Well, you may or may not be surprised to hear that, according to reporting by Matthew Chance and Angela Dewan of CNN, Putin, while speaking at press conference, offers transcript of Trump meeting with Lavrov, noting that, "at the press conference in Sochi, Putin made light of the allegations." 

Fly-on-the-wall detail

“Covering White House now is what covering Kremlin would be like...if everyone in Kremlin sang like a canary to press,” says Shaun Walker, a Moscow correspondent for The Guardian, and here’s a good idea of what he means. In POLITICO Dawsey and Matthew Nussbaum report, White House rocked by allegation Trump tried to shut down FBI's Flynn probe, and for “Quite the ticktock,” as Henry Jackson puts it, check out their other piece, White House on edge: 'We are kind of helpless', in which White House officials reveal, as Dawsey tweets, they “basically have no idea if Trump is telling truth, what's next or how much trouble they are in.”

At The New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman write At a Besieged White House, Tempers Flare and Confusion Swirls, providing “Incredible, fly-on-the-wall detail,” tweets Michael Tackett. And over at The Daily Beast, Lachlan Markay, Asawin Suebsaeng and Jana Winter report, Trump Officials on Comey Memo: ‘Don’t See How Trump Isn’t Completely F*cked’, in a piece that quotes a senior administration official as saying, “I feel like running down the hallway with a fire extinguisher.”

And for a completely different view, Anne Helen Petersen says, “If you want to understand the four steps of how the pro-Trump media will spin this, here's your source.” Charlie Warzel of BuzzFeed breaks it down in How The Pro-Trump Media Responds To A Crisis In Just 4 Steps. Says Haley Byrd, “This timeline of the mental contortionism by pro-Trump outlets after the WaPo story broke is depressing & hilarious.”

Not a circus of errors

Seems like a good time to get out of town. At Reuters, Steve Holland and Jeff Mason write Embroiled in controversies, Trump seeks boost on foreign trip. In their piece, a Republican strategist is quoted as saying “This is their time to shine, to show Americans and the world that the White House isn’t becoming a circus of errors.” The piece also reveals, as Noah Barkin tweets, “NSC littering briefings with Trump's name ‘because he keeps reading if he's mentioned.’”

Manafort’s mystery mortgage

Meanwhile, Tom Winter and Kenzi Abou-Sabe of NBC News are reporting that Feds Subpoena Records for $3.5M Mystery Mortgage on Manafort's Home, writing, “Federal investigators have subpoenaed records related to a $3.5 million mortgage that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort took out on his Hamptons home just after leaving the campaign.”

A textbook case of irresponsible journalism

Oliver Darcy tweets, “I spent all day trying to get to the bottom of Fox News' story on Seth Rich -- here's what I found." His piece for CNN Money describes how the Story on DNC staffer's murder dominated conservative media -- hours later it fell apart. Says Tim Murphy, “Everyone involved in promoting this story is a disgrace.” “Horrible. A textbook case of irresponsible journalism,” says Andrew M. Seaman.

We were born for informing, not for silence

And lastly today, in her piece for NBC News, Journalists protest, mourn the killing of reporter Javier Valdez Cárdenas, who reported on drug trade, Catalina Gonella reports on the reaction to the murder of the internationally recognized journalist who specialized in reporting on drug-trafficking and organized crime in Mexico. Gonella writes, “On Tuesday morning, journalists took to the streets of Sinaloa with banners saying ‘We Demand Justice...Not One More Journalist,’ to protest the killing.” Valdez Cárdenas was one of the founders of Riodoce, a local publication in Sinaloa, which released a statement that, in spite of his death, “we cannot stop covering topics about drug trafficking — we were born for informing, not for silence."

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