Photo of the day

Back to the well of animals in sports photos from the Atlantic

(Also, you know what happens when I can’t sleep and get up extra early?  You get two morning posts plus a photo of the day)

A cat disrupts play in the second half between Tigres UANL and the Real Salt Lake during their Leagues Cup game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah, on July 24, 2019. 

Jeff Swinger / USA Today Sports / Reuters

What Deval Patrick means

I really liked this Sean Trende piece on Bloomberg and Patrick entering the Democratic race (though I think Trende overrates Bloomberg’s ability to pick up delegates).  I thought his observations on Patrick were especially noteworthy:

Deval Patrick. His entry is much more consequential, even though he probably has less chance of becoming the eventual nominee than Bloomberg. It must be viewed in a couple of contexts. First, it comes on the heels of a (poorly received) Eric Holder trial balloon.  Second, Patrick, like Holder, is an Obama ally.

The best way, then, to interpret the Holder feint and Patrick’s entry is as a shot across Biden’s bow, and as an expression of deep concern among Democratic Party actors about the electability of Warren and Sanders.  Biden’s campaign has been plagued by problems from the outset. The best remaining arguments for him becoming the nominee have been that he is Obama’s supposed heir, and that he maintains a sizeable African American firewall in South Carolina and throughout the South.

Patrick’s entry is a frontal assault upon both of these arguments. His candidacy likely would not happen without substantial support from other people in Obama’s orbit (including, possibly, the former president himself).  Translated, this suggests that Biden cannot count on endorsements, tacit or otherwise, from important players in the previous administration.  Second, it suggests that his support among African Americans should not be considered secure. While I would be surprised if Patrick received an endorsement from Obama, I suspect he will receive some endorsements from Obama proxies.  [emphasis mine]

The interpretation here would be that Biden is effectively the Jeb Bush of the 2020 Democratic field: His main function has been to prevent time, money, energy and attention from flowing to other moderate candidates, and thereby enabling the rise of Warren and Sanders. By removing the two best arguments for Biden’s continued candidacy, the theory goes, his 25% of the vote should start to look around. If he were to collapse or even drop out, it would open up space for Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, or any of the other moderates to rise.

#MediaFail

Good stuff from Aaron Rupar in Vox:

The proceedings got to the very core of what the office of the presidency is supposed to be about in our country. It was the stuff of history. But to hear Reuters and NBC tell it, one of the major faults of the hearing was that it simply lacked pizzazz.

Both outlets were roundly dragged for posting news analysis stories that focused on the entertainment value (or purported lack thereof) of the hearing. NBC’s piece, authored by Jonathan Allen, claimed that the hearing “lacked the pizazz necessary to capture public attention” — a turn of phrase that quickly became a meme and echoed the talking points Trump family members and administration officials used.

NBC News

@NBCNews

Analysis: The first two witnesses called Wednesday testified to President Trump’s scheme, but lacked the pizzazz necessary to capture public attention. https://nbcnews.to/2pfAayE

Plenty of substance, little drama at first open impeachment hearing

Analysis: The first two witnesses called Wednesday testified to Trump’s scheme, but lacked the pizazz necessary to capture public attention.

nbcnews.com

31.1K people are talking about this

Meanwhile, Reuters’ Jeff Mason and Patricia Zengerle wrote that the hearing was “dull” and lacked “bang.”

Jeff Mason

@jeffmason1

Consequential, but dull: Trump impeachment hearings begin without a bang https://reut.rs/36Xkr8B

Consequential, but dull: Trump impeachment hearings begin without a…

Democratic lawmakers tried their hand at reality television with mixed results on Wednesday as they presented arguments to the American public for the impeachment of a former star of the genre,…

reuters.com

11.5K people are talking about this

Mason and Zengerle’s lede bizarrely compared the impeachment hearing to reality television.

“Democratic lawmakers tried their hand at reality television with mixed results on Wednesday as they presented arguments to the American public for the impeachment of a former star of the genre, Donald Trump,” it said. (In a similar vein, NBC’s piece said the hearing “felt more like the dress rehearsal for a serious one-act play than the opening night of a hit Broadway musical.”)

That sort of framing isn’t just a self-fulfilling analysis signaling to prospective news consumers that they can safely tune out the unexciting impeachment hearings. It’s also, as anyone who remembers lengthy cable news shots of Trump’s empty podium can attest, the exact sort of fixation on entertainment and optics over substance that played a key role in helping Trump win in 2016 in the first place. But if you hoped that major outlets learned something from that experience, the framing of the NBC and Reuters dispatches about the first public impeachment hearing was disappointing.

As has frequently been observed, an impeachment is ultimately a political matter and not a legal one.  So, it certainly does matter how all this comes across to the public.  But we sure as hell don’t need journalists flashing their “savvy“/I’m not here to take sides, bona fides by reporting extraordinary damning testimony, soberly delivered, as “boring.”

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