Last week started with President Trump announcing that his chief of staff would be leaving by the end of the month, something that later became potentially untrue because no one wants the job. Apparently, it might end up being Jared Kushner, which is amazing considering he may be implicated Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, but, really, is anyone surprised by that? After all, Trump’s inaugural committee is now under federal investigation, too. Meanwhile, Time named journalists fighting the “war on truth” as the people of the year, which might be what provoked the Senate into finally condemning Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi this week. Normally, there’s at least some good cheer around the holidays. Let’s see what the internet has to offer.
Where There’s Smock…
What Happened: President Trump went on Twitter and misspelled “smoking.” You can probably guess how this turned out.
Yes, that’s right; the President of the United States apparently can’t spell the word “smoking.” And for those of you willing to argue that it’s just a typo, let Scrubs‘ lovable JD explain why that’s clearly not the case:
This was, of course, an immediately meme-able thing that Twitter was perfectly suited to handle.
Also, it’s not the first time that the president had made this “mistake,” as it turned out.
That tweet was, unsurprisingly, deleted and reposted with corrected spelling. As of this writing, Trump’s “smocking gun” tweet remains unchanged. Maybe everyone has more important things to worry about. (Everyone has more important things to worry about.)
The Takeaway: Does stuff like this get filed under making America great again? We’ve started to lose track.
The Bottomless Pinocchio
What Happened: What happens when the leader of the free world shows such an aversion to telling the truth that even four Pinocchios isn’t enough anymore? Just drop the bottom out, apparently.
What Really Happened: As almost anyone paying attention has noticed over the past two years, fact-checking in the political arena has most definitely become a thing now that Donald Trump is president. So much so that, as the saying goes, norms are changing.
Yes, last week, the Washington Post introduced a new classification of untruth: The “Bottomless Pinocchio.” Let’s let them explain it for us. “The bar for the Bottomless Pinocchio is high: The claims must have received three or four Pinocchios from The Fact Checker, and they must have been repeated at least 20 times. Twenty is a sufficiently robust number that there can be no question the politician is aware that his or her facts are wrong,” the introductory article stated. Any attempt to suggest that this had nothing to do with President Trump was immediately dismissed by this qualifier: “The Fact Checker has not identified statements from any other current elected official who meets the standard other than Trump. In fact, 14 statements made by the president immediately qualify for the list.” Ouch.
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Response to the new classification on social media was mixed. Some were firmly in the school of, “See, this proves that Trump is a big liar.” Others, meanwhile, were unconvinced by the Post‘s choice of monicker.
Whatever it was called, the introduction of the new classification caught the attention of the media, perhaps to no one’s true surprise. Really, it’s the name. People might make fun, but they can’t deny it’s catchy. Or perhaps it’s the interactive graphic that lets you revisit all the untruths in one place; that is pretty great, actually.
Still, not everyone is convinced, and it’s not about the name. It’s about the fact that there’s already a term for what President Trump is doing that’s still being danced around by the media…
The Takeaway: OK, before we move on, does anyone have any other “Bottomless Pinocchio” jokes they want to get off their chest while they have the chance, because that’s obviously more important than concentrating on the fact that the man in charge of the United States has problems with the truth? Anyone?
That’ll do, Twitter. That’ll do.
Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word
What Happened: Three years isn’t a long time, unless you’re Michael Cohen and you’ve just discovered that’s the length of time of your prison sentence.
What Really Happened: Last week was the best of times and the worst of times—and that was just if you were Michael Cohen. The president’s former personal lawyer was due in court last week for sentencing, having plead guilty to eight charges earlier this year before discovering that plea bargaining works better if you fulfill your end of the deal. To say that the press was prepared for the prospect of Cohen going to jail was an understatement.
Inside the courtroom, however, events unfolded in a manner both unexpected and entirely unsurprising, as both Cohen’s lawyer and Cohen himself tried to make a last-minute attempt to convince the judge to not throw the book at him.
Yes, “dirty deeds,” a phrase sure to live on for some time, especially as things get more legally problematic for Trump. Unfortunately for Mr. “Says Who?”, everything Cohen said didn’t really help, ultimately.
OK, that seems kind of like a really big deal, when you put it like that. But let’s ask ourselves: How would the President of the United States respond to this news? Hands up everyone who said, “With some genuinely stunning tweets,” because you are this week’s winners.
Cohen actually wasn’t done yet, because it turns out, he can do TV interviews, too.
The Takeaway: Remember how, when it comes to President Trump, there’s almost always a tweet from the past to be found? Well, that, but for Michael Cohen.
That’s What She Said
What Happened: When it comes to trumped-up (no pun intended, swearsies) political stunts, this week’s meeting between the president and the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate felt a little like a Scooby-Doo episode: He would’ve gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for … actually, he never had a chance.
What Really Happened: Faced with legal troubles all over the place, you can almost imagine the thought process behind the president deciding to open up a meeting with Democratic leaders of the House and Senate midweek. It could’ve, theoretically, given him a chance to publicly humiliate his political opponents and feel good about himself. That, well, didn’t happen.
That problem was President Trump.
Well, perhaps he wasn’t asleep, exactly…
Or maybe he was just planning a, uh, let’s call it a “zinger” to be polite.
But, yeah; if the meeting was supposed to be a PR coup and political victory, it’s safe to say that things didn’t work out as planned, to say the least. Especially given Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s post-victory tour of duty.
Given the inevitable expectations ahead of the meeting, you have to wonder whether or not Trump was happy with the final outcome.
The Takeaway: You have to admit that Senator Chuck Schumer twisting the knife via Twitter is kind of hilarious from a comedy point of view.
No Confidence Men (and Women)
What Happened: When it comes to the slow collapse of the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, last week proved to be an especially filled, and troublesome, one.
What Really Happened: Even by the tumultuous standards of regular Brexit, last week was absolutely nuts when it came to the issue of the UK’s perilously oncoming withdrawal from the European Union. To wit:
And that was just one day. Yes, British Prime Minister Teresa May pulled the planned vote on a proposed Brexit agreement between the UK and EU at the very last minute, amid fears that she would, essentially, lose. Surprisingly, she actually admitted that when announcing the postponement.
There was one problem with her doing that, though; not everyone was on board with that decision, and felt that maybe some other people should have a say in it. People like, say, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.
Nonetheless, the vote will now happen in January, maybe. Yes, that’s just two months before the UK is due to leave the EU, which is perhaps leaving things a little too last-minute, but it works for holiday shopping, so there’s that? Meanwhile, May was also faced with calls to have a second referendum on the possibility of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union in the first place. She wasn’t keen, it seemed.
To make matters even more complicated for May, the potential argument that a second referendum would be pointless because Brexit was unstoppable was undone on the very day that she was arguing that there was no way a second referendum could take place.
So, it’s not going well for May, or Brexit. But what if there was something that could happen to underscore how surreal everything had become, but also how archaic the rules are for the British government?
Like we said; even by Brexit standards, that was quite a week of events. So, where are we now, anyway?
Oh, right. Bad luck, UK.
The Takeaway: If there’s one thing we can all remember and agree on, it should be this, let’s be honest.
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