'Schmucks with Underwoods'
The first rule of journalism is, as in screenwriting, "show, don't tell." It's no wonder early Hollywood was populated with ex-newspapermen, who took their fastest-typewriters-in-the-West from New York and Chicago to the actual West and hired themselves out as scenarists and, when the talkies came, screenwriters. As Herman Mankiewicz wrote to Ben Hecht: "millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots." Less appealingly, Jack Warner referred to his hired scribes as "schmucks with Underwoods."
Today's journalists are no different in their passion for narrative-spinning. Most of them have forsaken whatever dreams they once had about selling that big spec script for zillions -- and in any case there's almost no market for original specs in Hollywood these days -- but they've found that they can still make stuff up and get paid for it. Of course, they're still schmucks.
Case in point is Friday's one-day wonder, the BuzzFeed "scoop" that Trump told his shyster lawyer, Michael Cohen (a schmuck if there ever was one), to lie to Congress about his alleged dealings on a Trump Tower project in Moscow that never happened. Here's a taste:
President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.
Trump also supported a plan, set up by Cohen, to visit Russia during the presidential campaign, in order to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and jump-start the tower negotiations. “Make it happen,” the sources said Trump told Cohen.
And even as Trump told the public he had no business deals with Russia, the sources said Trump and his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project.
Well, that was all the other schmucks with Underwoods needed to hear, as if BuzzFeed -- the outlet that first published Christoper Steele's "Russian dossier" as an in-kind contribution to the Hillary Clinton campaign -- had ever evinced any sort of journalistic probity. The typing orangutans in the writers' rooms temporarily put aside their work on their "Hamlet" rewrites in order to shriek in unison about the inevitability of impeachment. Note the number of aging Boomers who reach back to the journalistic touchstone of their youth, the (non)-impeachment of Richard Nixon. For them, Watergate is forever:
The chorus of howling and poo-flinging lasted most of the day, until the zookeeper -- in the case, Robert Mueller's office -- came in to settle things down:
In a rare move, the office of special counsel Robert Mueller has gone on the record to dispute the bombshell BuzzFeed report from Thursday night, which claimed that the special counsel has evidence that President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.
"BuzzFeed's description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate." — Spokesperson Peter Carr