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May 6, 2018

Rudy's mission; Stormy's cameo; a problematic poll; the view from Kabul; $1 billion in 11 days; week ahead calendar | CNN Money




 Exec summary: A brand new Ronan Farrow story... Plus Amanda Carpenter on Trump's lies, Warren Buffett on the future of newspapers, and the week ahead calendar...

What is Rudy doing?

Since Rudy Giuliani's name is at the tip of everyone's tongues right now -- remember when he said "we got Kim Jong Un impressed enough to be releasing three prisoners today?"

That was last Thursday morning on "Fox & Friends." Almost four days ago. By then, #MAGA Twitter was already celebrating the "release of the 3 Americans" -- a premature celebration, it turns out, spurred by sketchy news reports and an echo chamber effect. Rudy added to it.

There's still been no U.S. government confirmation that the men have been released. Hopefully by the time you're reading this, there will be confirmation. But I have to ask: What was Rudy doing? Why was the president's personal lawyer talking about sensitive diplomacy on TV? Don't these mistakes dent his credibility?

Trump's new TV defender

I can't explain his North Korea screwup. But it seems to me that Rudy is playing "surrogate" more than "lawyer" right now.

Trump wants people on TV defending him... That's why Giuliani was added sorta-last minute to the line-ups of Saturday's "Justice" and Sunday's "This Week." Trump can't really give these interviews himself, so Rudy is filling in, saying what Trump would say. (But seemingly making things worse!)

After "This Week," Rudy rendezvoused with Trump... Then he gave even more interviews... He told the WashPost's Robert Costa that "we're setting the agenda." Hmmm. Key quote: "Everybody's reacting to us now, and I feel good about that because that’s what I came in to do..."

 --> Don't look now, but... POTUS has only tweeted once since Friday night... It was a generic "thank you Cleveland" video...

"Almost a grifter"

Carl Bernstein, speaking with me on "Reliable Sources," said that Giuliani has been portraying Trump "as almost a grifter with no interest in anything but conning the American people..." Presenting Trump as "totally unconcerned with truth, especially about this question of whether the Russians have interfered in our electoral campaigns and [whether] he was a knowing or unknowing participant in what they were doing..."

 --> Recommended: Jay Rosen wrote this reaction to Bernstein + other Sunday show commentary...

Monday's papers...

Quoting from Monday's NYT: Rudy "tried again on Sunday to straighten out his client’s story," but "raised new questions about whether Mr. Trump had paid hush money to other women and suggested the president might invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying in the special counsel’s Russia investigation." Meantime, here's the NY Daily News cover:

Enough is enough with the president's lies

The "White House credibility crisis" was a topic all across TV on Sunday. Jake Tapper pressed Kellyanne Conway and other guests about the problem. "I would like him to stop lying, quite frankly," Tapper said at one point. Conway denied that there's a credibility crisis at all, which just testifies to her own credibility issues.

On "Reliable," I said reporters are increasingly feeling empowered to call out the Trump White House's lies because the evidence is right on tape. Enough is enough... Here's video of the opening essay...
A PROBLEMATIC POLL

Where Trump got this (false) idea

Later in the hour, I unpacked the president's claim that his support among African Americans has recently "doubled." It hasn't. But the way this idea spread... from The Daily Caller to social media to other sites to the president's lips... is really something to behold. It's still being shared right now.

And all of this was based on a tiny sliver of an online survey -- that even the pollster says was misinterpreted. Really. Reuters told me "the sample sizes for those two measurements were too small to reliably suggest any shift in public opinion." Here's my column all about it...

Week ahead calendar

Monday afternoon: Melania Trump announces her initiatives at a Rose Garden event...

Tuesday: The Cannes Film Festival gets underway...

Tuesday: Disney and Discovery report Q1 earnings...

Tuesday: Key primary races in WV, OH, NC, and other states...

Wednesday: Senate confirmation hearing for embattled CIA director nominee Gina Haspel...

Wednesday: The one-year anniversary of Trump firing James Comey...

Wednesday: 21st Century Fox earnings...

Thursday: POTUS holds a campaign rally in Indiana...

Sunday: Mother's Day! 

Gotta make more time for TV watching...

If you're like me, you already have way too much to watch right now. Jamie and I are behind on "Billions" and "The Looming Tower" and we haven't even started this season's "The Americans." And there's MORE coming!

Brian Lowry emails with a heads up: May is a month for Emmy bait, coming near the end of the annual eligibility window. Showtime leads the charge May 12 with "Patrick Melrose," a miniseries starring Benedict Cumberbatch, followed over successive Saturdays by the HBO original movies "Fahrenheit 451" and "The Tale," the latter acquired out of Sundance...

Picture of the weekend

The "fake" Donald Trump with the real Stormy Daniels...
Scroll down for more "SNL" highlights...
For the record, part one
 -- BREAKING: The Observer first broke the news about this operation on Saturday. Now Ronan Farrow has the details. He says the same intel firm that aided Harvey Weinstein also "used false identities to track and dig up dirt -- even sexual blackmail material -- on Obama officials behind the Iran deal..." (The New Yorker)

 -- Nick Kristof's latest: "I'm not arguing that we avert our eyes from Trump or mute our criticism. Far from it. But we have to figure out how to spare bandwidth for genocide in Myanmar, opioids in America and so on..." (NYT)

 -- 🔌: It's bedtime now because I'll be on CNN's "New Day" in the 6am hour..