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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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.
Divided States of America, Part 1 (FRONTLINE | PBS, aired January 17, 2017)
FRONTLINE investigates the partisanship of the Obama era, and the polarized America that Donald Trump inherits as president.
Ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration, "Divided States of America" looks back at events during President Barack Obama's years in office that revealed deep divisions in our country. The documentary offers an in-depth view of the partisan gridlock in Washington, the rise of populist anger on both sides of the aisle, and the racial tensions that erupted throughout the country.
What a stunning overview of the last eight years of partisan politics. In particular I had forgotten about a lot of the rancor and racism stemming from the far right when Obama took office. This two part documentary does a terrific job of reminding us where we’ve all been and puts a lot of our current situation into perspective. The first part here was particularly brutal in its coverage. It seems almost too balanced to the point that the subtext of the documentary is that politicians need to find a better way to get along to do more good for their constituents.
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PBS NewsHour full episode Feb. 7, 2017 (PBS NewsHour)
Tuesday on the NewsHour, a federal appeals court takes up President Trump's controversial immigration order. Also: Fact-checking the claim that the press underreports terror attacks, shocking details of a Syrian prison, how Betsy DeVos could reshape education policy, unique challenges for black children with autism and a new take on Timothy McVeigh's motivation for the Oklahoma City bombing.
The segment on autism in combination with the episode of Invisibilia on mental health I heard last night make me think we should drastically change how we treat and deal with mental health in our society.
The worst shame in the segment on autism was that the family felt shame for taking their son out into public.
Nice to see some of our favorite folks from NPR Radio making the rounds on television.
Watching some political satire/comedy in the background today while I work is definitely lifting my spirits.