The hidden side of politics

While You Were Offline: How Was Your Comey Week?

Reported by WIRED:

Late Friday, as the sun set on another bonkers week on the internet, kids began walking out of school to protest gun violence, while adults complained about marijuana legalization on unofficial weed day. And all that happened in just the span of a few hours. Elsewhere, Kanye West returned to Twitter and announced he has two albums in the pipeline and a new line of shoes. Suffice to say, it’s been a week. But what else has everyone been talking about on this here internet? Let’s have a look, shall we?

Comey Week: Come for the Interviews, Stay for the Banter

What Happened: Welcome to Comey Week. It has interviews, accusations, and everyone’s favorite element of the Trump Administration: memos!

What Really Happened: The last few days, folks were told ahead of time, amounted to “Comey Week.” To promote his new memoir, A Higher Loyalty, fired FBI director James Comey did all kinds of interviews, talking about his experience with President Trump, as well as potential obstruction of justice, Russian interference in the election, and more. Ahead of Comey’s first public interview, with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on 20/20, everyone was on pins and needles wondering what he’d say … something ABC’s social media team took full advantage of.

But really, this was probably the moneyshot, in terms of Comey soundbites from the whole thing:

Unsurprisingly, this got just a bit of attention. (We can’t imagine why.)

In these increasingly partisan times, it’s no surprise to see that others didn’t quite see it Comey’s way, of course.

But how did Trump respond to the interview and all the hubbub surrounding it?

Yes, that’s completely presidential and not depressing at all. But Comey wasn’t finished! His publicity tour continued throughout the week. Bad news for those wanting to escape Comey and start their weekend, though: His infamous memos about meetings with Trump were leaked online after they were shared with Congress, and … well, let’s just say that it didn’t really help the president. Unfortunately, no one told him that.

The Takeaway: If nothing else, Comey Week was more successful in staying on-topic than Infrastructure Week, but this probably sums up the feelings of many at this point.

Rudy’s Return

What Happened: Just when you thought it was safe to return to the immediate vicinity of New York City, America’s onetime favorite mayor—remember those days?—made an unexpected return.

What Really Happened: It wasn’t just James Comey who made a return to the political stage last week. At first, it was just a rumor that popped up early Thursday…

…and then, somehow, it was real.

Yes, former New York City mayor and US attorney Rudy Giuliani is back, baby. The media was overjoyed at the return of such a beloved figure. There was, it turned out, a particular reason for bringing Rudy out of legal retirement.

No, wait. That’s not right.

…No, not that either. This is the reason.

That seems, shall we say, very optimistic thinking considering certain unfinished threads, but perhaps Rudy has some plan folks are not privy to. Some were dismayed about the choice, to say the least…

There’s also one other small awkward detail to think about when considering this hiring.

OK, that might complicate matters. Also, they weren’t the only legal team Trump brought on board last week.

Yes, Meet the Raskins. Turns out, there’s a reason for their hire, as well.

No, wait, we got that wrong again. Why do we keep making these mistakes?!?

Let’s look forward to lots of fun legal battles in the future, yes?

The Takeaway: But really, how effective will Rudy actually be?


The Michael Cohen Saga Continues

What Happened: Who would have thought that the Michael Cohen legal battle would turn into a discussion about ethics in political journalism?

What Really Happened: Actually, speaking of legal battles, perhaps we should check in with President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen who was raided by authorities last week. His own attorneys—as well as White House lawyers under Trump’s direction—tried to get a judge to prevent authorities from reviewing the raided material, but in court last week that whole thing kind of backfired spectacularly.

At issue was the identity of Cohen’s legal clients. Or, really, the identity of one particular mystery individual, because Cohen only had three clients, and we knew who two of them were: Donald Trump and former Republican National Committee deputy finance chairman Elliott Broidy, for whom Cohen reportedly arranged a $1.6 million deal with a woman to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with the fundraiser. The identity of the third client, however, was a secret because, it was argued by Cohen and his lawyers, it would be embarrassing for said client. The judge hearing the arguments in court, however, disagreed, leading to this revelation.

This was kind of a big deal, not to mention a surreal surprise. It’s like the reveal of a murderer in an Agatha Christie novel, but a really stupid Agatha Christie novel. The internet reacted as everyone should have expected.

Sure, Hannity never disclosing that he was Michael Cohen’s client when he repeatedly talked about Cohen publicly would seem like a substantial breach of journalistic ethics, but Sean had a defense. Kind of.

Still, Fox News turned out to be surprisingly cool with it, releasing a statement which read, “While Fox News was unaware of Sean Hannity’s informal relationship with Michael Cohen and was surprised by the announcement in court yesterday, we have reviewed the matter and spoken to Sean and he continues to have our full support.” Whatever happened to “Fair and Balanced”? Oh, that’s right, Fox ditched that slogan last year.

The Takeaway: Maybe this is how the scene between Cohen and Hannity played out way back when?

The Starbucks Problem

What Happened: Racism is alive and well, even in Starbucks, which prompted the internet into action and Starbucks into apology mode.

What Really Happened: This story started last week, but it didn’t really break through into the mainstream for a few days, when people really started to realize what had happened. It all started in a Philadelphia Starbucks.

News of the arrest—and the video, as well—started making the rounds online, prompting more and more responses on Twitter as the clamor started to build.

Soon enough, faced with protests at the store where it happened, Starbucks made a public apology.

It should be noted that the employee who called police is no longer working at the location, although it’s unclear whether or not she’s still working for Starbucks. (Some reports suggested she had left the company entirely.) The company’s executive chairman continued to apologize afterwards:

After initially defending his officers—and releasing the audio of the 911 call in question—the Philadelphia police chief responded to criticism over the arrests on Thursday.

The Takeaway: The entire story is sad, and a sign that the world is nowhere near the “post-racial society” that some proclaim, over-optimistically. (As if the last year hasn’t been filled with enough examples to argue against that.) On a far less important level, it also pushes back against a branding exercise for Starbucks itself…

…especially when the problem is far from limited to one store.

Stormy’s Sketch

What Happened: As if the Stormy Daniels story wasn’t enough of a Rorschach test, a new sketch took that and ran with it last week. What do you see?

What Really Happened: We couldn’t let the week finish without checking in with the ongoing Stormy Daniels affair. (No pun intended, etc.) Last week, not content with potentially pushing the Michael Cohen investigations into action, it was all about the man who allegedly threatened Daniels and her child into silence surrounding Trump.

Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.

Some were impressed by the latest move…

…but others—really, a lot of others—found themselves distracted by the sketch itself, and who it might look like.

Nonetheless, the sketch got people suggesting names, with Daniels’ legal team reportedly “swamped with tips” as a result, so take that, everyone who snarked about similarities. Mission … accomplished? (We can say that again now, right?) Still, the president couldn’t stop himself from getting involved.

The Takeaway: There was, at least, one man willing to try and save his reputation over this matter.

OK, make that two. Kind of.