While You Were Offline: The Op-Ed Is Coming From Inside the House
Boy, oh boy. Technically, thanks to Labor Day, this past week was shorter work-wise than most. That said, the internet never takes a day off, so it was just as full as the rest. Think we're kidding? We're not. As proof, here's a series of unrelated tweets that represent just a fraction of what people were talking about online over the last seven days:
Hungry for more? Read on.
Fear and All Kinds of Loathing in Washington, DC
What Happened: The newest Trump administration tell-all book might be the biggest—or, at least, the most all-telling, and the most reliably true—one yet. Needless to say, it didn't come and go without causing some drama.
What Really Happened: It's been a few weeks since Omarosa's book grabbed headlines, so clearly it's time to start thinking about another White House tell-all. This time around, it's possibly the motherlode: Fear: Trump in the White House is the upcoming release from legendary journalist Bob Woodward, and it’s been breathlessly anticipated by everyone who figured that Woodward would have the true story about what is going on in President Trump's administration. And with the release just a week away, this happened:
Yes, the Washington Post got its hands on the book early, and let’s just say that the review—such as it was—suggested that this would be everything people wanted and more.
The first excerpts to be released were juicy, to say the least.
And, it turned out, it wasn’t just the Post that got an early copy.
Let’s just say that a lot of people found what was shared to be a little alarming.
Others were more alarmed (or, at least, surprised) by the lack of pushback from the White House over the release of the excerpts and the response they were generating.
As should only have been expected, that didn’t last.
And, of course, it wasn’t too long before the president got in on the action.
There’s only one problem with taking the attitude that you can just pretend this stuff isn't real: This book comes from Bob Woodward. He really doesn’t half-ass or fictionalize. He’s the real deal, as could be seen by his wonderfully old-school reply to the denials.
Perhaps the oddest part of the whole thing may have been an 11-minute call between Woodward and Trump, which was recorded and then released by the Post.
Seriously, though: If this is just what’s coming from the pre-release hype, imagine what the actual book will be like.
The Takeaway: If nothing else, this whole kerfuffle has proven once again that, for the current President of the United States, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, even when it’s clearly bad publicity.
The Op-Ed Is Coming from Inside the House
What Happened: Bypassing the need for reporters and anonymous sources, the New York Times published an op-ed by an unnamed White House staffer about the goings-on in the current administration.
What Really Happened: As if the Woodward book didn’t make the White House look unruly enough, there was a pretty dramatic second development on Wednesday that was … well, dramatic, all things considered.
The piece was titled, with wonderful overstatement, "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration"—although, as the actual piece explained, "To be clear, ours is not the popular 'resistance' of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous”; instead, it argued, "there is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first"—and it was, to put it mildly, quite a read.
It should be pointed out that plenty of people were unconvinced by the central premise of the piece.
As further proof that the White House might not be at the top of its game, the publication of the essay appeared to come as a complete surprise to people within the administration, as the by-the-second tick-tock of Twitter revealed.
…It took, apparently, one hour and 31 minutes to formulate a response, judging by the timestamp on the following. Just in case you’re curious.
But what is a response from the White House these days without some extemporaneous riffing from President Trump? As you might expect, he treated this extraordinary event with the nothing but the gravitas and reflection it truly deserved.
There was another, equally obvious, outcome of the whole thing: lots and lots of speculation about who wrote it. Reportedly, the search for the author of the piece combined with the search for those who spoke to Bob Woodward for Fear, is likely creating a very unhappy atmosphere in the White House.
The fact that the Times op-ed editors granted the writer anonymity was deemed troublesome by many, though the reasons why varied from person to person.
While some people had some cunning plans for finding out who was responsible—
—others believed that the identity of the author wasn't entirely mysterious in the first place, as this much-shared thread on Twitter made clear.
For what it’s worth, Mike Pence denies writing it, which … I mean, he would, wouldn't he? That's just what you’d expect him to do. Wait, now I’m getting all paranoid.
The Takeaway: One of the surprising takeaways from the whole thing was just how ready social media was to publish parodies of the piece, complete with any number of pop culture references…
Justice Brett Is So Close to Happening
What Happened: Last week everyone got to meet Brett Kavanaugh, the next Supreme Court justice (probably). As far as meet-cutes went, let's just say that the Senate and Brett had particularly awkward rom-com rockiness to deal with.
What Really Happened: While all of the above was unfolding, there was a parallel track of intrigue happening in the confirmation hearing for potential Supreme Court judge Brett Kavanaugh, which turned out to be anything but dull. Even before the hearing began, people were excited, and not just because an amazing 42,000 pages of documentation were released just hours before the first day of the hearing began. Why, there was even cosplay.
Things got off to an amazing start. Or, at least, certainly not a boring one.
Oh, but the controversy of the day wasn't just about what the Senators were saying, as it turned out.
As if the video didn't disprove the White House version of events, Fred Guttenberg offered his take on what had happened, which was (of course) disputed by the White House.
To the surprise of literally no one, this became a media story pretty quickly. But, wait! That’s not all! On the very same day—this is still just the first day of the hearings, remember—there was also the idea that one of Kavanaugh’s staff was flashing a white power sign behind him for the entire hearing.
Thankfully, this was something that was very quickly put to rest on social media even before it had time to set in.
Bash's husband took to Twitter to complain.
We’d love to be able to say that, after such a tumultuous first day, the hearings settled down into a nuanced discussion moving forward, but the second day brought up potential hacking connections and confusion over whether he'd been consulted over the Mueller probe, and the third had conflict over documents concerning race, whether or not Roe v. Wade is "settled law," his inability to condemn Trump's attacks on judges, and if he'd lied during his 2004 confirmation hearings for the DC Circuit Court. This one, it seems, is going to run and run. But don’t worry, Kavanaugh fans; he’s still likely to be confirmed no matter what.
The Takeaway: If nothing else, Twitter displayed its ability to keep everyone on-topic as the first day of the hearings drew to a close.
InfoVictory May Have Been Declared After All
What Happened: Ding-dong, Alex Jones’ social media career is dead, now that he's been officially kicked off of Twitter.
What Really Happened: It took a very long time, but guess what? Alex Jones has, a month after being removed from YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest, also been banned by Twitter.
Many people wondered why it was only now that Jones—who had already seemingly violated the platform's terms of conduct—was removed. Let’s just say that he gave Twitter a lot of reasons in the 24 hours before his banning.
There's actual video of this here, originally streamed by Jones and InfoWars on Periscope. It’s somewhat astounding. And then, of course, there was this, but you knew about this photo already.
Of course, Jones being banned from his final mainstream outlet was big news—but more than a few people were suspicious about just what exactly led to Jones’ removal, and how close to home it hit for the social network.
As much as we might want to focus on the Jack Dorsey of it all—and that's saying nothing about that beard—we really, really, shouldn't forget [gesturing wildly] all of this, either.
Perhaps we'll never know what the real reason for Jones' removal was. Then again, perhaps it doesn't even really matter.
The Takeaway: Maybe this should just be the start of a multi-pronged effort on behalf of Twitter. Some folks are already offering up suggestions for next steps, after all.
Just Do It to Yourself
What Happened: Nike extended its deal with Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who famously took a knee during the National Anthem to protest police violence, and everything you might have expected to come as a result happened.
What Really Happened: The ever-controversial subject of NFL protests returned to the fore last week with the news that Colin Kaepernick is the face of Nike’s next wave of "Just Do It" commercials. Kaepernick announced the deal with Nike via Twitter.
It was, as Nike surely hoped, a much-reported-upon deal—and a lucrative one, too.
Whatever the value of the deal, maybe we should take a second to appreciate that Nike is standing up for someone seemingly abandoned by those in his chosen career.
Well, maybe don’t get too excited…
This just in: This issue is a particularly complicated one. Nonetheless, surely it's good to see someone stand behind Kaepernick, right? Turns out, not everyone thought so.
The so-called boycott didn't impress everyone, however.
Presumably, Nike wasn't impressed by—but may have been, perhaps, thankful for—the protests, considering that estimates suggested the news raised $43 million in media exposure for the company in just one day. Curiously, while Nike stock is down 2 percent at the time of this writing, it is also gaining popularity and expected to continue doing so.
The Takeaway: No matter how nuanced the idea of a Nike deal may be, considering the company's own practices, let's take a brief moment to enjoy how utterly un-nuanced the enjoyment of ridiculous protests that ultimately both miss the point and serve no purpose can be.