First up, here is Haaretz today on Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s phone conversation with President Trump a couple of weeks ago:
Netanyahu said that he told Trump that he supports the two-state solution and a final status agreement, but stressed that he told the president that the Palestinians are unwilling and detailed the reasons why a peace deal cannot be reached at this time….”Trump believes in a deal and in running peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” Netanyahu stressed. “We should be careful and not do things that will cause everything to break down. We mustn’t get into a confrontation with him.”
The strong implication here is that Netanyahu has no intention of negotiating a two-state final agreement, but he’s telling everyone to smile and nod when Trump insists on trying to broker one. Eventually Trump will give up, and in the meantime he has to be suckered into believing that Israel was earnest about a peace deal all along.
Next up, a Trump friend throws Reince Priebus under the bus:
One of President Trump’s longtime friends made a striking move on Sunday: After talking privately with the president over drinks late Friday, Christopher Ruddy publicly argued that Trump should replace his White House chief of staff.
….Ruddy went on to detail his critique of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus: “It’s my view that Reince is the problem. I think on paper Reince looked good as the chief of staff — and Donald trusted him — but it’s pretty clear the guy is in way over his head. He’s not knowledgeable of how federal agencies work, how the communications operations work. He botched this whole immigration rollout. This should’ve been a win for Donald, not two or three weeks of negative publicity.”
The fact that Ruddy said this on national TV and then to the Post right after talking with Trump means that he must have Trump’s implicit blessing to run this up the flagpole and see what happens. It’s remarkable that there are so many rumors about senior administration officials leaving or getting fired a mere three weeks into Trump’s term.
And speaking of senior officials, the odious Stephen Miller was on TV this morning, and with only a couple of exceptions nearly every word out of his mouth about voter fraud was a lie:
White House senior advisor doubles down on unsubstantiated NH voter fraud claims: “Voter fraud is a serious problem in this country” pic.twitter.com/xVDqHMAgYV
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) February 12, 2017
Here’s a detailed takedown of Miller’s claim that 14 percent of all noncitizens are registered to vote. Here’s the Washington Post with “bushels of Pinocchios” in a long fact check of everything Miller said. And here’s Josh Marshall pointing out that Miller also lied this morning about foreigners pouring into the country to plot acts of terrorism. Naturally Trump was delighted: “Congratulations Stephen Miller- on representing me this morning on the various Sunday morning shows. Great job!”
I honestly don’t know how TV networks should handle the Trump White House. On the one hand, they have to cover the president. And that means putting his aides on the air.
On the other hand, his aides have made it clear that they will use these opportunities to flatly lie over and over and over. They don’t care if the interviewer badgers them for evidence and they don’t even care if the interviewer chastises them for fibbing. They just want to give their lies a public airing, and they know that most of the audience can’t judge who’s right and probably doesn’t trust TV interviewers all that much anyway. And unlike print reporters, TV folks pretty much have to allow unedited remarks to go on the air.
So what’s the answer? This is not a new problem, but the scale has changed so much under Trump that it might as well be new.