Derailed, derailed, derailed

Feb 13, 2018

With a 34% staff turnover rate, A Whirlwind Envelops the White House, and the Revolving Door Spins. Peter Baker paints the picture for us in his latest for The New York Times with this attention-grabbing lede: “The doors at the White House have been swinging a lot lately. A deputy chief of staff moved on. A speechwriter resigned. The associate attorney general stepped down. The chief of staff offered to quit. And that was just Friday.” Michael Schwirtz also noticed this: “I love that the photo of the White House at the top of this article is reminiscent of Hitchcock.” Joshua Holland points out that “Most New Yorkers and long-time Trump watchers knew that, politics aside, he’d be a totally incompetent manager, but I imagine many people who mostly knew him from TV must be surprised by his ineptitude as an exec.”

Rob Porter may be gone, but that story’s not going anywhere. Eliana Johnson’s new piece for POLITICO, Kelly increasingly isolated as Porter scandal rages on, has everything, as Emily Stephenson tweets: “Omarosa misusing the White House car service, Rachel Brand trying to avoid overseeing the Russia investigation…” Johnson herself tweets, “One thing that raises q’s abt Kelly’s ‘40 mins’ timeline: Mid-day Weds, hours after pub of black eye photo, WH press secy Sarah Sanders arranged mtg betw Porter & 4 reporters. He told his version of events & fielded q’s. WH won’t say whether Kelly knew.” John McQuaid notes the “Problem with off-the-record briefings – when their existence contradicts the official version of events.” “Assemble The Legion of Access Journalists!” announces Oliver Willis, referring to the four sent-for reporters, The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey, Axios’ Jonathan Swan, and The Wall Street Journal’s Michael Bender.

Heather Long says it’s “Telling: Infrastructure week in June was derailed by James Comey’s congressional testimony Infrastructure week in August derailed by Trump comments on Charlottesville #Infrastructure week in February derailed by Rob Porter scandal.”

Meanwhile, at The Washington Post, Colbie Holderness writes in her piece, Rob Porter is my ex-husband. Here’s what you should know about abuse (24,000+ shares), “Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders again declined to say whether the president believes Willoughby and me. While I cannot say I am surprised, I expected a woman to do better.”

These people belong on SNL, not in government

Picture this: “Blue Apron for the poor, except with canned fruit.” Kim Severson is referring to the report by Helena Evich of POLITICO that Trump pitches plan to replace food stamps with food boxes. As Corby Kummer puts it: “‘America's Harvest Box’: one of the flat-out weirdest, set aside worst, ideas since ketchup was a vegetable.” “These people belong on SNL, not in government,” says Caron Golden.

Breaking news from BuzzFeed’s Dominic Holden, The Education Department Officially Says It Will Reject Transgender Student Bathroom Complaints (33,000+ shares). Ana Marie Cox explains it this way: “Trump admin ignores inconvenient case law, will not take action on complaints transgender students who are barred from using the restroom congruent with their gender identity,” while Parker Molloy is a bit more concise: “Betsy DeVos is a steaming pile of crap.”

The scoop from Ari Berman of Mother Jones is that Trump’s Controversial Pick to Run the 2020 Census Withdraws. Thomas Brunell was criticized for lacking government experience and defending gerrymanders.

And, as mentioned in the POLITICO article above, NBC News’ Julia Edwards Ainsley reports, Justice Department official Rachel Brand leaves partly over fear she might be asked oversee Russia probe. Ainsley tweets, “NEW: Rachel Brand's departure comes after months of frustration with job, fears she would have to oversee Mueller.”

So let’s talk about money. Lachlan Markay and Sam Stein of The Daily Beast have found out about The Silicon Valley Giant Bankrolling Devin Nunes. Short version: “Oracle loves Devin Nunes,” as Russell Brandom tweets. Stein elaborates: “Devin Nunes got $35k from Oracle executives last quarter, just a month after the company hired a top former NSC staffer tied to… Devin Nunes.”

In the latest issue of Forbes, Dan Alexander explains that Trump's Biggest Potential Conflict Of Interest Is Hiding In Plain Sight. Markay calls it “A helpful reminder that the President of the United States and his family are drawing income from the Chinese government.”

Audacious af

Step back to the previous administration for Portraits or Politics? Both Presidential Likenesses Blend Fact and Fiction (100,000+ shares), as Holland Cotter writes in The New York Times, reporting on the unveiling of the official presidential likenesses of Barack Obama and the former first lady, Michelle Obama, on Monday at the National Portrait Gallery. Gene Demby’s review: “Wow. Kehinde Wiley went full Kehinde Wiley here. That’s audacious af.” Sure, but “In a 1980 painting Jimmy Carter trades a black suit for a beige one. How revolutionary is that?” asks Heather Haddon.

In his review of the portraits for The Washington Post, Philip Kennicott writes, The Obamas’ portraits are not what you’d expect and that’s why they’re great (225,000+ shares). Tweets Tracy Jan, “A stroll thru the National Portrait Gallery emphasizes in a visual, emotional way that recalls not just the racism built into this country’s founding document, but the racism that has shaped the history of art and portraiture since the Renaissance.”

The world’s most confusing conflict

Stepan Kravchenko, Henry Meyer and Margaret Talev of Bloomberg have the scoop on “A mad, mad development …” as Ruth Pollard puts it: U.S. Strikes Kills Scores of Russian Fighters in Syria. David Wainer calls it a “Major Bloomberg scoop and a strange story,” and Alex Wayne sums it up: “The U.S. killed a bunch of Russian mercenaries last week in Syria, the world’s most confusing conflict.” Simon Ostrovsky says it’s “The downside of hybrid warfare. You can't complain when your soldiers - who officially aren't there - are bombed by your geopolitical rival.”

This dude

Genevieve Bookwalter refers you to Read the texts filed as evidence of sexual harassment against Kevin Quinn, key staffer in Madigan operation, as published in the Chicago Tribune. Mark Jacob notes, “These texts of a male Mike Madigan operative allegedly harassing a female campaign worker are probably old hat to many women but amazing to me. How many times does a person have to say no?” Adds Alison Bowen, “These texts make me feel so tired and will be so familiar to so many. What women have to go through just to do their damn jobs.”

And “What a story: A Philly district attorney, now in jail for corruption, ordered the creation of a list of cops suspected of corruption,” tweets Chris Brennan, who links to Philadelphia's DA office keeps secret list of suspect police, by Mark Fazlollah, Craig R. McCoy and Jeremy Roebuck of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Tweets Roebuck, “UPDATED: The officer whose testimony was the only evidence against Meek Mill in his 2008 trial has since been placed on a secret DA's office-maintained list of untrustworthy cops.”

And then there’s this dude: Remember Roland van Hauwermeiren, “That man who #Oxfam fired in 2011 for sexual exploitation? He'd been kicked out of another NGO for the same thing..…” says Ben Parker, linking to his investigation for IRIN, Oxfam sexual exploiter in Haiti caught seven years earlier in Liberia.

Psyched for Cheesecake Factory 2022

“THIS IS A MISTAKE ANYONE CAN MAKE DON'T SHAME THE GRAPHICS GUY,” tweets Jason Perlow. Even so, WLS-Ch.7 blames graphics ‘mix-up’ for confusion between P.F. Chang's and Pyeongchang, reports Kim Janssen of the Chicago Tribune. Yes, “Chicago local news: The true gold standard of journalism,” as Jake Novak puts it. “Lettuce wrap our minds around this graphics blunder,” offers Rob Marmet. And “Who knew the #WinterGames would be so delicious #PFChang,” tweets Meredith Land. “Thankfully the Olympics aren’t being held in Olive Garden, Italy,” notes Jeff Coen. Anyway, “I, for one, am psyched for Cheesecake Factory 2022,” says Terence Cullen.

This is the one you mustn’t miss

“Yikes. I went long on Adam Rippon, childhood, and bein' gay. Give it a read!” says Richard Lawson of his new piece in Vanity Fair, The Bittersweet Beauty of Adam Rippon (26,000+ shares). Matt Wells urges you to read this one: “Obviously I am reading EVERYTHING about Adam Rippon so you don't have to. This is the one you mustn’t miss, though. Wonderful by @rilaws.” Adds Jose A. Del Real, “Please take a some time and consider this beautifully written essay by @rilaws. It's a thoughtful rumination on identity, representation, and heroes.” “Representation, it changes everything, and always for the better,” says Nicholas Jackson.

And finally today, Alison Overholt tells us, “I'll be sure to post this one again later today, at cocktail hour. But whenever you decide to sit and read, don't miss @Baxter's latest: The NBA's Secret Wine Society. It's rich and full bodied and … not full of bad puns like these!” That’s The NBA's obsession with wine, by Baxter Holmes for ESPN The Magazine. “Between this and his PBJ story, @Baxter deserves either a food show on the NBA Network or an NBA show on the Food Network,” says Tommy Tomlinson.

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About the author

Nashville-based writer, marketing communications consultant, and all-around word nerd. Usually covered in dog and/or cat hair.

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