[Update: This post will also act as today’s Political Open Thread, because honestly, unless something incredibly consequential surfaces when the report is released, we’re going to wait until the dust settles to talk about it.]
Good morning! The Mueller Report is coming today. And the news cycle is going to be fast-and-fierce. It’s probably going to be one of those days where we churn through five or six news cycles before 6 p.m.
It began late yesterday, really, when we learned that AG William Barr would be holding a press conference at 9:30 a.m. today, 90 minutes before the release of the redacted report to the public, thereby baking in a narrative favorable to the President before anyone could actually see the document. There’s some suggestion that Trump may also speak, around 10:30 a.m., exonerating himself again before the media has seen the report.
Last night, the Democrats tried to delegitimize Barr’s illegitimate narrative by suggesting that anything that Barr says at 9:30 during a press conference in which the media won’t be able to ask questions about a report they haven’t seen will all be Presidential propaganda; that Barr and the entire DOJ’s independence has been called into question, etc., etc. The Democrats even asked Barr to cancel his press conference, one that is obviously being held at the wishes of and in cahoots with Trump.
All of which is to say: Prepare yourself today. Steel yourself, because nothing really is going to matter until the dust has settled. Try to take a longer view of this. I haven’t seen the report, but I suspect that over the long term, it’s going to do a lot of political damage to the President, even if it doesn’t result in his impeachment, because it’s going to fuel days and weeks of news cycles.
Here’s the tentative media freak-out schedule for the day!
Present until 9:30 a.m.: Expect, as we have been seeing, a series of pieces suggesting a cover-up, that call into question the credibility of the Attorney General. That Trump finally got his hatchet man. That nothing that Barr says in the press conference can be believed.
9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.: Barr will set the narrative, and the media will buy it. There will probably be a number of pieces suggesting that nothing in the report is too damaging and that regardless of what the report says, the President didn’t collude or obstruct justice, and that everything else in the report is just “mischief.”
10:30: - 11 a.m.: Trump will come out and proclaim, again, that he’s been fully exonerated. The media will report it with headlines like, ‘Trump Claims Full Exoneration.”
11:00: The 400-page Mueller report released.
11:00 - 11:05: Editorial journalists will start tweeting cherry-picked items from the report in support or against their particular biases.
11:10: Republicans and their supporters will immediately begin framing the Mueller report as a “nothing burger.” They will use that phrase repeatedly, much to my annoyance.
11:15: Democrats will demand the unredacted report, because all the good stuff is under Sharpie.
11:30 - 2:00: Hot take, hot take, hot take. Hot take, hot take, hot take. “There’s nothing here.” “The President is in real trouble.” “This will be politically damaging.” “Can the President survive this?”
2:00: Endless speculation about who made what statements, pieces about if this or that person will survive the day at the White House.
3:00: The President will express full confidence in this or that person.
4:00: This or that person will be fired.
4:30: Reporters who have actually managed to read most of the Mueller Report and digest it will finally begin to release their more measured articles, and we will finally begin to fully take stock of what all of this means.
5:00: Trump will do something outrageous or say something horrible, and the entire news cycle will change (It looks like North Korea will be Trump’s likely scapegoat.)
Friday 8 a.m.: The Post and The NYTimes will have exhaustive, insightful, extensively reported pieces on the entire Mueller Report. The American public won’t care, because they will have already moved on to the next Trump scandal.