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The television event of a lifetime: The Avenatti & Scaramucci Show

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“I have no interest in television right now,” tweeted the guy who’s on television 22-23 hours a day in response to this story.

Nothing against either of them but what’s the supposed appeal of this show?

The prominent television agent Jay Sures discussed with executives at CNN and MSNBC the concept of a program where the two men would square off, according to three people briefed on the issue. Both have become frequent cable network guests — Mr. Avenatti as one of Mr. Trump’s greatest antagonists, and Mr. Scaramucci as a loyalist to the president even after flaming out after less than two weeks at the White House…

Mr. Avenatti has not yet hired Mr. Sures, according to two of the people, but it is not unusual for Hollywood agents to work informally with potential clients. Mr. Sures, who is based primarily out of California, has represented Dr. Phil; the host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Chuck Todd; and the co-host of “CBS This Morning,” Norah O’Donnell. Both Mr. Avenatti and Mr. Scaramucci attended a party thrown by Mr. Sures during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner weekend last month in Washington.

“One’s a Trump crony, the other’s suing the pants off of him! Together, they’re The Mooch and Michael!” Meh. Avenatti’s on TV ’round the clock not because he’s particularly witty or insightful but because he’s a newsmaker. He’s rolling out dirt on the president’s lawyer day by day. Eventually that well will run dry (although, given the extent of Cohen’s shadiness, maybe not for a year or two). What then? He’s shown a knack for throwing elbows at his political enemies, which is useful in a cable news host, but whether he’d be interesting opining on the news of the day is an open question. Probably he would be. How high is the bar set for “interesting” on cable news, after all? The question is, has Avenatti built such a fan base among the hashtag-Resistance that they’d watch a show he’s hosting even when he’s spending most of his time farting out opinions about the North Korea summit, say, instead of his Quest To Take Down Drumpf?

I’m not sure about Scaramucci’s appeal on TV either. He’s fine but a bit dull in his cable hits, often surprisingly soft-spoken and more establishment in his opinions than POTUS is despite his Trumpist loyalties. Where Scaramucci really shines is in print interviews, when he doesn’t need to worry about network censors bleeping him and can indulge the profane Pesci-esque character that lives within him. If The Mooch and Michael landed on pay cable, like HBO, it might be worth watching to see Scaramucci do his “one F-bomb every 15 seconds” thing. But on MSNBC? Who cares? If the only hook here is taking a Trump booster and a Trump antagonist and having them co-host a show, you could do that with a thousand different other combinations, many of them more entertaining. Here, off the top of my head: Sloppy Hour with Steve Bannon and Rosie O’Donnell. I’d watch the fark out of that.

Another thing. Why would either Avenatti or Scaramucci want the daily grind of doing a show? Can’t both of them earn more in their current jobs than on cable? Avenatti’s won some big judgments and Scaramucci is a Wall Street guy. They’re not going to get Hannity money for a new show whose prospects are uncertain, and meanwhile they’d be putting in long-ish hours preparing to tape every night. And it’s not like either one is hurting for TV opportunities. Avenatti probably logs about as much airtime nowadays as he would if he had his own show and Mooch is sufficiently “colorful” and tapped in that he can get himself booked anywhere at will on short notice. I don’t get it. Although I do agree with Josh Barro that an Avenatti/Scaracmucci show in which they had to make elaborate wedding cakes together while a clock ticked down would be must-see TV.

Exit question: If you’re going to do this concept, isn’t an Avenatti/Giuliani show a much, much more appealing possibility? They hate each other! Conflict is the essence of good drama. Make it happen.

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Lesley Stahl: Trump told me he attacks the media so that people won’t believe us when we report bad news about him

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I mean, obviously. A scandalized shiver runs through the room in the clip after Stahl says this but nothing about Trump is as transparent as his strategic goal in gaslighting people about “fake news.” Here’s something I’ve linked before, written two days after his inauguration and attempting to explain why Sean Spicer held that embarrassing “these were the biggest inauguration crowds ever!” press conference. Among the suggested reasons:

The point of carping about “fake news” isn’t to discredit the stories that are false, it’s to discredit the stories that are true. It’s the same as the “witch hunt” rhetoric about Russiagate, which has already produced five guilty pleas and 17 indictments. Any politician pinned to the wall by damaging news would kill to have a reservoir of suspicion about the media among their base that they can call on in a pinch to defuse that news. The goal isn’t necessarily to get people to disbelieve a story but to stoke enough doubt about the reliability of its narrators that the public will conclude there’s no way to know what’s truth and what isn’t. That’s the art of the gaslight. And the author I quoted above also anticipated that:

If ever there was a “tell” about Trump’s strategy, it was this tweet posted 17 days after he was sworn in. It’s one thing to claim that reporters are slanting their coverage to disfavor him, as that obviously does happen. It’s another to suggest that pollsters are engaged in willful fraud, en masse, to make him look bad by manipulating their data and willing to risk their professional reputations in doing so:

Everything that’s bad for him is “fake” and you shouldn’t believe it, and if you do you’re siding with Them over him. He’s not coy or in any way subtle about this. This is a guy, remember, who back in the day used to dial up reporters posing as his own PR flack to tout his wealth or his womanizing or whatever. Subtlety’s not his thing, certainly when dealing with the media. The reason there are murmurs in the room after Stahl tells her story, I think, is just because he’s willing to cop to the gaslighting openly, even to a member of the media itself. It’s all just a game, played to a strategic end. Why pretend otherwise?

In lieu of an exit question, something unrelated but fun. Apparently Trump’s inimitable Twitter style is, in fact, imitable:

“West Wing employees who draft proposed tweets intentionally employ suspect grammar and staccato syntax in order to mimic the president’s style, according to two people familiar with the process,” the Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey reports.

The details: “They overuse the exclamation point! They Capitalize random words for emphasis. Fragments. Loosely connected ideas. All part of a process that is not as spontaneous as Trump’s Twitter feed often appears.”

That’s GOP-style populism in microcosm. You’ve got one guy, the populist-in-chief, whose grammar and spelling are not the best but whose style is “authentic” and “relatable.” And then you’ve got a coterie of well-educated phonies and cronies mimicking him, pretending to be stupid in the same way because that’s what he wants and they’re convinced that that’s what the people want. No one has any incentive, political or financial, to be better. Sad!

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Trump Goes Scorched Earth on FBI Spy Campaign: ‘Follow the Money, the Spy Was Only There to Help Crooked Hillary Win’

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President Trump unleashed on the FBI’s infiltration of his campaign Tuesday evening in a pair of tweets.

The President said, “Follow the money!” the spy wasn’t there to find ‘Russian collusion,’ he was there to help Crooked Hillary win the election!

President Trump, please never stop tweeting!

President Trump lit up Twitter Tuesday evening after he tweeted what we are all thinking–the spies infiltrated his campaign for political purposes to help Hillary Clinton win the election.

Trump tweeted: If the person placed very early into my campaign wasn’t a SPY put there by the previous Administration for political purposes, how come such a seemingly massive amount of money was paid for services rendered – many times higher than normal…

Trump then slams Crooked Hillary: …Follow the money! The spy was there early in the campaign and yet never reported Collusion with Russia, because there was no Collusion. He was only there to spy for political reasons and to help Crooked Hillary win – just like they did to Bernie Sanders, who got duped!

The informant, Stefan Halper, was paid a total of $411,575 in 2016 and 2017 for work with the US government that included spying on the Trump campaign.

It was a lucrative business for Stefan Halper.

Now the Democrats are in spin mode.

They went from ‘there was no spy inside of Trump’s camp’ to ‘the informant was there to help protect Trump against the Russians.’

Former DNI Chief James Clapper is claiming embedding spies is “a standard investigative practice.”

Hillary Clinton wanted to spy on her political opponent and she accomplished her goal with help from Obama’s weaponized intel agencies.

President Trump is right; Spygate is worse than Watergate.

Earlier Tuesday, President Trump told reporters, “If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country.”

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Shouldn’t Publix be forced to bake the Latin cake?

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Palette cleansers don’t usually come this sweet … if we’re still permitted to use that phraseology. A family celebrating the graduation of their son with high honors had ordered a cake made from the local Publix supermarket, using their online system to proudly display Jacob Kosinski’s status as a summa cum laude student. Just one problem, the online system responded — they don’t allow obscenities on their cake designs.

Shouldn’t they be forced to bake the Latin cake?

Cara Koscinski organized a graduation party for her 18-year-old son. For the occasion, she ordered a cake online from her nearest grocery store, Publix, which lets customers build their own cakes complete with a customized inscription, which they enter into a message box marked “cake message option.”

Carefully, she typed in the words she wanted on the cake: “Congrats Jacob! Summa Cum Laude class of 2018.”

Publix’s online system was unhappy with the word “cum.”

Good Lord. This is less about mandatory cake-baking than it is about cultural ignorance and classical illiteracy. We stopped teaching Latin as a compulsory subject in most schools decades ago, but this Latin phrasing in particular remains very common — used in all college and university graduations, and many high school degrees, too. Magna cum laude is understood by most people not to be a reference to a particular prophylactic, for Pete’s sake.

Publix apologized and returned the family’s money, which is as much as they can do for this particular error. It should remind them to pay attention to the special instructions in their own flippin’ system, however, especially when the customer calls to explain it to them in plain English. If Publix doesn’t want to make cakes for a particular special occasion or to proclaim a particular message, they shouldn’t be forced to do, and neither should anyone else. But is it too much to ask that they check out requests to ensure that they really object to it?

At least Jacob has a pretty clear understanding about the nonsensical levels of political correctness and ignorance he’ll encounter in the wider world. It might keep him more grounded than most other high school graduates entering colleges and universities this fall. In the meantime, let’s offer a Latin lesson for bakeries around the country, just in case they need to conjugate. In the language sense, that is.

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