Face the Nation 2/19/17: Priebus, Graham, Nunes
After a contentious week for the White House, "Face the Nation" breaks down the problems the Trump administration has faced in its first month. White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, and others join the show.
Reince Priebus is far preferable as a White House spokesperson to either Conway or Miller, but he still doesn’t have the ability to listen and push a particular agenda. While I get the message that they’ve done a lot of work, they still need to deal with the political realities of potential scandals in a more even-handed manner. All of the other Republican appearances on today’s show were far more sober about the realities of what seems to be going on. In my mind, the only reason not to admit there’s a problem is that you have no plan for dealing with it or moving forward. It’s the administration’s appearance that they don’t seem to have any kind of overall plan that concerns me most.
It seems like the administration had the 10 word answers down pat during the campaign, but that’s all they had and sadly they don’t seem to have the paragraphs or even the books worth of information and plans to follow up on any of their ideas.
Again, I’ll note that I think it’s a continuing mistake for the Sunday morning shows to allow administration spokespeople to appear remotely via camera than to appear in person.
The best part of the episode, to me, was the re-appearance of Michael Morell, who I don’t think I’ve seen on television since before the inauguration. His depth of knowledge and analysis, even now that he’s on the journalistic side of the game, is just always superb. I don’t think anyone else in the game has the ability to lay out facts in a simple and straightforward manner without a pointed agenda. I’ll note that he even had an aside in the conversation here underlining the agenda portion.
I really like the sober voices of Bob Woodward and Jeffrey Goldberg at the end. It would be nice to see more of them in shows like these.
On a technical production note, I will mention that Face the Nation seems to have a set problem with John at the head of the table and guests on one side. The camera angles (particularly with just two guests on the same side of the table) seem to diminish the roll of the guest seated furthest from John. This doesn’t seem to be a problem with 4 or more guests, but is highlighted when there are only two. Perhaps the production could take a page from Charlie Rose’s blocking around his table with multiple guests? There was also a small chyron issue that leaked into Graham’s segment which identified him incorrectly as Nunes.
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PBS NewsHour full episode Feb. 17, 2017 (PBS NewsHour)
Friday on the NewsHour, President Trump touts his economic plans at a Boeing plant, while the Senate approves Scott Pruitt, a climate change skeptic, to head the EPA. Also: An update on the fate of an Iraqi translator, two Texas cities offer a microcosm of the nation's deep political divide, Mark Shields and David Brooks analyze the week's news and a new film about a controversial love story.
PBS NewsHour’s reporting on the political divide is really interesting. The fact that they’re going into middle America and bringing stories that others aren’t covering is laudable. It helps explain the divide, though I still see a tremendous disconnect between these people’s lives, their desires, their education and how the political theater is playing out with the current administration’s lack of ability and any semblance of logic.
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Nice coverage of the Trump press conference today.
Camerawork on the Furry Hat segment was shaky and made the moderate jokes there even shakier.
Sally Field has still got it after all these years and her analysis of Tennessee William’s Glass Menagerie was quite interesting.
The opening five minutes was about as compact as you could make the craziness of today’s press conference. Holy Crap!
The Trump “Old Guy” opener was about as good as it gets for political satire lately.
The capper: http://maketrumptweetseightagain.com/
“That guy gets so much poutine.” -Trevor Noah on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s good looks.
The Mike Flynn “cartoon” was an interesting method of storytelling.
There was a nice portion just before the interview in which Noah shows several examples of the ways in which the Trump administration tries to have things both ways, and then denies that they’re not telling the truth. Why must they waffle? Why can’t they just stand up and say “this is who we are.” We couldn’t do anything but respect them for that, but lying just ruins it all.
A map of Russia on the episode makes me wonder why I haven’t seen any pundits or comedians take the map and turn Russia’s highlight into Trump’s hair and then superimpose his face over South Asia. This image may help others with the idea:
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Interesting to see what’s happening at Teen Vogue. The Stephen Miller portion actually went pretty easy on his performance on the Sunday Morning shows this week. Not quite as funny as most episodes, but still interesting and relevant within the overall political environment.
The “Moment of Zen” at the end with Trump shaking hands with Abe was truly hilarious.
PBS NewsHour full episode Feb. 16, 2017 (PBS NewsHour)
Thursday on the NewsHour, President Trump takes on charges of Russian connections, the news media and a new immigration order in an animated and wide-ranging news conference. Also: What’s causing more white Americans to die in middle age, sanctuary cities take a stand against the president's immigration policies and an English professor's take on her own life as an immigrant.
Most media accounts took today’s pressy to serious task. The coverage here took as measured take on the event as could be humanly imagined–I can’t imagine how they maintained straight faces based on the portions of the press conference they showed here or other places.
Watching the 2014 version of Annie earlier this evening reminded me of Geoffrey Holder and how much I loved his character Punjab in the 1982 version. He had a tremendous body of work which is touched upon in this great short retrospective.
Annie (Sony Pictures, 2014)
Directed by Will Gluck. With Quvenzhané Wallis, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne. A foster kid, who lives with her mean foster mom, sees her life change when business tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in.
Finishing out the Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje 2014 mini-movie retrospective after watching Pompeii yesterday. What polar opposite characters in many senses. He didn’t seem as big or imposing here while he was positively brutal in the other.
The opening with the alternate red headed Annie would have played better if it was a tad more respectful to its own source material.
This incarnation of Annie was alright, but not as solid as the 1982 version. The update to a modern setting was relatively good, but New York didn’t feel much like New York. A part of the magic was missing and I’d suggest that it was the music that killed it for me. None of the singing felt live and all of it was auto-tuned even for actors for whom it probably wasn’t necessary. On top of this none of the classic songs from the book were understandable from a lyrics point of view, and this is sad since that’s where half of the story is hiding.
The other piece that was missing was the general chemistry between Annie and her benefactor. The ebullient joy of the 1982 Annie with the curmudgeon played by Albert Finney just overwhelmed the poorly developed relationship in this version.
This might have been better timed from a zeitgeist perspective if it had been released in Fall 2016 with more veiled references to Trump, though no one would have bought the rich-guy-with-a-heart ending.
Pompeii (TriStar, 2014)
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. With Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Kiefer Sutherland, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him.
Probably interesting in 3D when it came out, but ultimately just a somewhat interesting disaster picture. It had a little bit of heart, but has a plot as completely predictable as the historical one we already knew was coming. Some reasonable special effects, but mediocre looking in high def on television.
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