The last seven days have been difficult for all kids of reasons, most more important than the [closure of the final Toys “R” Us stores], even though folks did need to take a moment to shed a tear at the site of mascot Goeffrey the Giraffe leaving the store one last time. (We’ll leave it to you to work out the importance of the World Cup on your own, because your mileage may vary.) As the world worries about how bad the upcoming Trump/Putin summit will be, take a moment to distract yourself with everything else the internet has been talking about over the last week here.
Justice Anthony Kennedy Announces His Retirement, America Announces Its Anxiety
What Happened: As one man announces his intention to leave the Supreme Court, the rest of America slowly begins to panic over what that will actually mean.
What Really Happened: By Tuesday, it seemed as if the Supreme Court had already made its bombshell news of the year by upholding President Trump’s travel ban. But, it turns out, that was just a warm-up for an even bigger announcement on Wednesday—news that was at once half-expected and shocking.
Yes, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court, creating the second vacancy on the court in three years. Why is this important? Well, because Kennedy was famously a swing vote on the court—called by some the court’s most important member for that very reason—and because of who’ll get to choose his replacement, and what kind of replacement he’ll choose.
Trump famously said, during the 2016 campaign, that all Supreme Court justices he’d choose would be anti-abortion, something he backed up with his short list for the open seat he, uh, “inherited” in 2017. In other words, don’t expect any new pro-choice Supreme Court justices any time soon, something that many are already thinking about, amongst other things.
Sure! Why wait when it’s your guy making the decision this time? Not to mention, this time around, thanks to what happened last year, it’ll be even easier to seat a controversial candidate.
The Takeaway: Take it away, Twitter.
What Happened: So much for the idea that John Kelly would bring discipline to the White House; instead, he’s apparently about to leave, likely for exhaustion.
What Really Happened: Cast your mind back just a year or so, to when Reince Preibus left the role of chief of staff for the Trump Administration, and was replaced by outgoing Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. He was, we were told “the perfect pick” for the job, a “beacon of discipline” who “won’t suffer idiots and fools.” Seems great, right? So, how did it all work out?
For those wondering when “one year in the job” will actually be…
He started July 31, 2017, if you really want to know. But is he really leaving? Some poured doubt on the report…
…while others pointed out that, honestly, this is pretty much business as usual for the Trump Administration.
McMaster was fired days after Trump denied such a thing was a possibility, in case you don’t remember.
In many ways, this is a story people have been expecting for some time, especially considering Kelly had been reportedly sidelined and ignored for some time, prompting many to call for his resignation. Even as the media started to get its arms around the story, a follow-up report was already suggesting that Kelly could be gone much sooner than the end of July.
So what about those potential replacements named in the original report, anyway?
OK, so Mick Mulvaney seems to be counting himself out of the running, but what about that other guy, Nick Ayers?
Sure, but what about…
…Oh. That’s certainly an option, I guess?
The Takeaway: Worth noting: At least one rumor is placing former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks as a dark horse candidate for the position. Keep that in mind as we move forward.
What Happened: As one vacancy opens in the White House, another—one that has been surprisingly empty for awhile—appears to close, with arguably the worst job applicant getting hired.
What Really Happened: Speaking of Hope Hicks—and of chiefs of staff, but we’ll get there in a second—this week, rumors started swirling that the White House may finally have found someone to replace her as the person in charge of communications after months of looking. He’s an … unexpected choice.
Yes, Bill Shine, the former Fox News co-president? In case you’re wondering why he left…
But here’s the interesting thing: Later in the week, it turned out that he wasn’t going to take the job that everyone expected him to. (Indeed, he’d actually taken himself out of the running for that job months ago, according to reports.) Or, at least, he wasn’t going to take the job title…
Chief of staff for communications? No wonder John Kelly wants out. But as Shine officially accepted the gig—prompting some to wonder how much closer the White House/Fox News connection could become—others wondered just how someone went from “disgraced former network president” to White House official so easily. Apparently, it’s all to do with mutual friends.
So, for those keeping track: The White House has hired a man who was forced out of his previous job amidst allegations of covering up sexual harassment. Now he’ll be in charge of what the Trump Administration tells the American people—and it’s not as if the White House already has a credibility problem or anything—and, by the way, he got the gig because of the president’s close relationship with one of said network’s hosts.
Surely someone has to be in favor of this move besides the president, right?
Oh, of course. It’s not as if O’Reilly has a horse or two in this race or anything.
The Takeaway: Even looking beyond the reasons why Shine might be ill-suited to the position, let’s just think about the turnover at the White House when it comes to people trying to shape the message.
So, About That Immigration Bill…
What Happened: When it comes to immigration, House Republicans really can’t get their act together, even with an all-caps assist from the president.
What Really Happened: Perhaps all of this is making you forget that children are still being held in cages at the border because of a Trump Administration policy that was said to have been halted by an executive order (that the president reportedly regrets signing). You might remember that, last week, House Republicans postponed an immigration bill in the hopes of getting it to a place where they could pass it. Certainly, the president sure did.
Last week, the postponed vote happened, and … let’s just say that the postponement didn’t appear to help its chances of passing.
OK, sure; that positioning looks a little embarrassing for the president. Perhaps even more embarrassing is that support drew criticism from the media he normally relies on.
Meanwhile, the immigration system continues to be horrifically broken. If only someone was willing to step up and say something about how bad things are…
It’s a start.
The Takeaway: Protests against the administration’s immigration policies started on Thursday with more popping up over the weekend. This is far from over.
The Annapolis Newsroom Shooting
What Happened: A newsroom is attacked by a gunman, and the person who said he was ready for “vigilante squads to start gunning down journalists” claims no one should try to connect him to it.
What Really Happened: Thursday afternoon, terrible news came from Annapolis.
The editor of the paper also took to social media after the fact, to address the press en masse on the matter.
Such commentary didn’t go unpunished, either.
There might have been an alternate reason for that suspension, as it turned out.
But Yiannopoulos was unrepentant about his comments, instead posting to Facebook that his comments had been texted to a reporter at the New York Observer as a joke, and that, “if there turns out to be any dimension to this crime related to my private, misreported remarks, the responsibility for that lies squarely and wholly with the [Daily Beast] and the Observer for drumming up fake hysteria about a private joke, and with the verified liberals who pretended they thought I was serious.” (As of this writing, the alleged shooter—and his motivations—are still being investigated.)
The Takeaway: Putting Yiannopoulos aside, let’s consider how incredible it is that the Capital Gazette did, in fact, publish a paper just hours after the shooting—and used its Opinion page to honor those killed during the shooting.