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Reliable Sources: A simple question about 'enemies of the people'

At an Axios breakfast event on Thursday, Mike Allen showed how simple questions can elicit important answers...

Posted: Aug 3, 2018 12:40 PM
Updated: Aug 3, 2018 12:40 PM

At an Axios breakfast event on Thursday, Mike Allen showed how simple questions can elicit important answers. He asked Ivanka Trump "do you think that we're the enemy of the people?"

She seemed surprised by the question. "Sorry?" The crowd laughed. Allen repeated the question. "No!" she said. "I do not."

One of the president's daughters, and one of his senior advisers, publicly broke from his Stalin-era "enemy" rhetoric. The Allen-Trump exchange stayed in the headlines all day along. So I asked Allen about his strategy behind the question.

"Being a reporter is the opposite of being a trial lawyer: The best questions are when you don't know what the answer will be," he said...

A question for everyone else

A newsletter reader named Rafaella emailed me with an idea: "How about asking every interviewee -- before starting the interview -- the same question live for everyone to see: 'Do you believe the press is the enemy of the people?' If they can't simply reply 'no,' don't offer your platform. Respect their point of view but don't allow them to continue to promote their agenda on live TV offering them CNN's global reach. At some point this nonsense has to stop. It is beyond dangerous."

Trump's wedge

Rafaella's idea, of course, applies to Sarah Sanders and other Trump aides. At Thursday's W.H. briefing, Sanders had numerous chances to say what every patriotic American knows: That the press is not the "enemy of the people." But she passed up every chance, lest she publicly contradict her boss. "Enemy of the people" is "official White House policy."

Was Trump watching the briefing? Probably. Later in the afternoon, he tweeted, "They asked my daughter Ivanka whether or not the media is the enemy of the people. She correctly said no. It is the FAKE NEWS, which is a large percentage of the media, that is the enemy of the people!" This is a common tactic by Trump. He frequently tries to drive a wedge between "good" news outlets he approves and "fake" outlets he condemns. This is one of the reasons why real unity is so important...

Rally Reality

A rally on Tuesday. A rally on Thursday. Another one coming up on Saturday. Here's the thing: Trump is singing the same tune. He's just being louder about it. That's the story of his rallies... and his tweets for that matter. Some of what he says is shocking and unpresidential, but also, on another level, sorta boring.

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He's acting like "the media" is on the ballot in November. He did much the same thing two years ago. This week there's been a new burst of attention around his hateful rhetoric, and I don't think that's a bad thing, but I think we should specify that he's repeating himself...

Dispatch from Wilkes-Barre

On nights like Thursday, when Trump doesn't say much if anything that's "new," his sustained attacks on the media stand out even more. He called journalists "fake" AND "disgusting" and so on.

Via CNN's Jeff Zeleny, who was there: "Remember when President Trump got good press? He does. He was waxing nostalgic about those heady New York tabloid days -- after spending much of the night railing against the media. 'I didn't need this. I didn't need this. I didn't need it!' Trump said of the presidency. 'I had a very nice life. I used to get actually good press.' He added: 'I didn't need this, but I love it.' It was a momentary riff in a speech that is running more than an hour. But in the next breath, he called the press 'horrible, horrendous people...'"

"A tale of two White Houses"

That's what Anderson Cooper called it on "AC360." On Thursday afternoon the president's top national security officials sounded the alarm about Russia's efforts to "weaken and divide" the United States. The serious discussion in the W.H. briefing room was carried live by all the cable news nets. But Trump didn't mention it at his Thursday evening rally. Instead he said "we're being hindered by the Russian hoax -- it's a hoax, OK?" Thus, two White Houses...

Notes and quotes

-- James Oliphant of Reuters tweeted: Trump "bonds with supporters through a sense of shared grievance. Even though things are going well economically, there is still little positivity at these rallies. There will always be things to be angry about..."

-- The Daily Beast says Trump pal David Pecker and the National Enquirer have made "a conscious decision to pull back on their pro-Trump coverage..."

-- Meantime, is Trump ever going to answer Robert Mueller's questions? Politico has an update...

-- Carl Bernstein just now on "CNN Tonight:" "This is worse than Watergate because the system worked in Watergate..."

-- The Daily Mail obtained a small part of Omarosa's forthcoming book. Drudge's headline about it: "OMAROSA'S REVENGE..."

Moonves and the elephant in the room

Les Moonves had a message on Thursday's CBS earnings call: "I'm in charge, I'm delivering for investors, and I'm not planning on going anywhere."

He didn't say that explicitly -- he said it through his opening remarks and his answers to analyst questions and his confident tone. But he didn't say a word about the sexual misconduct allegations that everyone else is talking about. Nor did he reference his ongoing legal battle with Shari Redstone. It was strange. Here are a few key points...

Why didn't the analysts even try to ask?

Jill Disis emails: It wasn't surprising that the call began with a statement that "the scope of today's call" would "be limited to the quarterly results of the company." CBS cited "the advice of counsel." Okay. But what stunned a lot of observers was that none of the eight analysts who got a chance to ask a question brought up the harassment allegations or Redstone.

One would think that regardless of CBS' request, they would try to ask. I reached out to a few of the analysts, but haven't heard anything back yet. A source tells me that the questions were not pre-screened.

>> Brian Wieser, a senior analyst at Pivotal Research, who listened in but didn't ask a question, on what happened: "Many companies, you'll notice, will only allow certain analysts to ask questions. Suffice it to say, you're likely to have analysts who are likely to ask questions that are not going to push the needle too much..."

"Mooves mum"

Hey, that's not my typo, that's from the "CBS Evening News!" This embarrassing on-screen error is making the rounds in TV news circles... But to the news division's credit, it continues to cover the Moonves story on its newscasts...

Nathanson says CBS is "uninvestable"

Thursday's actual earnings were strong! CBS is growing its revenues, adding more digital subscribers, etc. But "those things don't matter much right now," Michael Nathanson wrote in a blunt note to investors Thursday evening.

His conclusion: "We admit that while we have no clue as to what will happen here, we do know that CBS stock, at this point in time, is simply uninvestable."He cited the uncertainty about Moonves' future. "It is patently obvious that if Moonves is forced out by the CBS Board on the back of sexual harassment, CBS will be materially weakened by the loss of an irreplaceable programming executive...and the stock should fall further." But, he added, "before this issue hit the market, we would have said that CBS is also uninvestable due to the battle taking place between the CBS Board and National Amusements..."

Thursday's other updates

-- Jill Disis has more on the earnings report and the call right here...

-- "Advertisers are remaining quiet," AdAge's Jeanine Poggi reports...

-- There were no updates on the status of "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager on Thursday. Here's my story from Wednesday...

-- LAT's Meg James and Richard Winton reported Thursday morning: "CBS board members learned several months ago that the LAPD had investigated an alleged sexual assault" by Moonves. No charges were filed...

-- Felix Gillette on CBS and "key man risk:" "By so closely enmeshing its corporate story with its leader's heroic personal narrative for so long, there's little room for CBS to delineate between Moonves's cloudy future and its own..."

The view from the TCA Press Tour

Brian Lowry emails from the twice-annual gathering of TV critics: CBS' statement on its earnings call is almost surely the line the network will employ at its TCA session, which is scheduled for Sunday. It's worth noting that in addition to CBS, two networks it owns in whole or part, CW and Showtime, are slated to present on Monday.

Fox, meanwhile, at its session on Thursday, again touted the benefits of "New Fox" being unencumbered by ties to a major studio. It's an argument, frankly, that runs counter to everything the major networks have been saying and doing over the past few years, when the emphasis has been on owning most of what they produce and exploiting it across multiple platforms, from streaming to international sales...

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 590211

Reported Deaths: 9310
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion815581297
Lake44306666
Allen31919541
Hamilton28371304
St. Joseph26766371
Elkhart24098341
Vanderburgh18643213
Tippecanoe17422121
Johnson14496284
Porter14399160
Hendricks13870241
Madison10561212
Vigo10483171
Clark10240130
Monroe9076108
Delaware8836132
LaPorte8771155
Howard7897138
Kosciusko787277
Warrick643890
Hancock638797
Bartholomew626694
Floyd6150105
Wayne5933157
Grant5818110
Dubois544372
Boone534367
Morgan516291
Marshall494184
Henry493664
Cass471760
Noble460557
Dearborn458444
Jackson414745
Shelby402179
Lawrence380575
Clinton364539
Gibson356556
DeKalb337363
Montgomery334851
Harrison328542
Knox327839
Miami309843
Steuben306340
Adams295235
Whitley294125
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Posey232326
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Clay217932
Scott216937
Randolph208340
Jennings192535
Sullivan189031
Spencer181917
Fountain179725
Washington177118
Starke171341
Jay162821
Owen159537
Fulton159229
Carroll152115
Orange151433
Rush149918
Perry147227
Vermillion144933
Franklin143433
Parke12908
Tipton128232
Pike113625
Blackford107522
Pulaski95237
Newton89421
Brown85530
Benton84310
Crawford7579
Martin70013
Warren6587
Switzerland6205
Union6113
Ohio4677
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 826754

Reported Deaths: 10200
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin97493705
Cuyahoga821781012
Hamilton61350439
Montgomery41700399
Summit33399726
Lucas30111597
Butler29721228
Stark24811400
Warren18917139
Lorain18086212
Mahoning16758335
Lake15365135
Clermont15160104
Delaware1382177
Licking12679132
Trumbull12401302
Fairfield1218480
Greene11631133
Medina11128165
Clark10608264
Wood9964154
Allen9511126
Portage8867105
Miami886573
Richland8790116
Marion7319113
Tuscarawas7142174
Columbiana7085124
Pickaway702850
Wayne6781164
Muskingum671242
Erie5886118
Hancock537890
Ross530287
Scioto519662
Geauga483555
Darke457589
Ashtabula439068
Lawrence432651
Union430628
Mercer424287
Sandusky421862
Seneca413555
Auglaize412759
Huron410338
Shelby410221
Jefferson403366
Belmont395640
Washington372040
Putnam364672
Athens36369
Madison339329
Knox336522
Ashland331738
Fulton325943
Defiance319278
Crawford313268
Preble311534
Brown296619
Logan292729
Ottawa282134
Clinton279043
Williams270166
Highland262418
Jackson256943
Guernsey241725
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Fayette225529
Morrow22294
Perry221318
Holmes218662
Henry210247
Hardin204133
Coshocton197420
Van Wert196644
Gallia190926
Wyandot190549
Adams165615
Pike164116
Hocking163423
Carroll149516
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Monroe95629
Harrison8568
Morgan79128
Vinton67113
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