Has there ever been a day with as many big stories as yesterday?
Compelling stories kept breaking from dawn to dusk yesterday, Thursday, April 26, 2018, and the analysis on cable news and online continued well into the night.
Before dawn Thursday morning on the West Coast, it was learned that Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, M.D., the White House physician who had been nominated to head the Veterans Administration, had withdrawn his name from consideration for the job in the face of withering opposition from leading congressional Democrats. Earlier, it had appeared that his going forward and seeking confirmation would occasion a political battle royale.
Fox & Friends hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade welcome President Donald Trump, April 26, 2018. Screenshot by Peter Barry Chowka.
Less than a half-hour after that news broke, President Donald Trump, who had nominated and championed Dr. Jackson for the top job at the V.A., appeared live by telephone for a free-wheeling, half-hour, commercial-free interview with the three hosts of Fox & Friends on the Fox News Channel. (Video link, transcript.) It was a homecoming of sorts – citizen Trump had appeared as a weekly phone guest on the show each Monday at 8 A.M. E.T. for several years prior to declaring for president in 2015, and he clearly considers it friendly territory to speak extemporaneously on the issues. Now, as the commander in chief, in a rare open-ended live broadcast interview, the POTUS made news volunteering that his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who is the subject of a federal investigation in New York, in fact represented him in the Stormy Daniels case. As reported in the not too friendly Philadelphia Inquirer, typical of most MSM coverage of the president's Fox & Friends appearance:
In a meandering interview on Fox & Friends Thursday morning that turned at times into an angry phone rant, President Trump admitted that Michael Cohen represented him in the Stormy Daniels case and confirmed he stayed overnight in a Moscow hotel, contradicting a claim he made to then-FBI Director James Comey.
In the interview itself, Trump was speaking so fast that the transcript ran over 6,000 words – about twice the content usually contained in a half-hour of public speaking.
Before the morning was over, Mike Pompeo, the CIA director who was nominated to succeed Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, was confirmed by a vote of 57-42 in the U.S. Senate. He had been opposed by many leading Democrats, and the outcome appeared uncertain, although several Democrats crossed over to give Pompeo a victory. He was quickly sworn in as secretary of state by Supreme Court justice Sam Alito.
North Korea's Kim Jong-un and South Korea's Moon Jae-in shake hands before entering South Korea at the DMZ for talks on April 26, 2018.
Meanwhile, the news from Asia – where Pompeo recently played a surprising role when he secretly traveled to North Korea to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un – was that Kim and South Korean president Moon Jae-in had held their first meeting, and a cordial, photogenic one at that, on the South Korea side of the DMZ in advance of a planned Kim-Trump meeting at a location to be decided on later this spring. It was the first time a North Korean head of state had ever set foot in South Korea since fighting in the Korean War ended in 1953.
Around 2:30 P.M. E.T., the news from a courtroom in Pennsylvania was that "America's Dad," Bill Cosby – comedian, actor, and onetime voice on the moral decline of the nation – had been found guilty on all charges of sexually assaulting a woman more than a decade ago. Cosby, who is 80 and is now a convicted felon, is temporarily free on bail but faces a 30-year prison term when he is sentenced within the next three months. During any other normal or slow news cycle, Cosby's stunning fall from grace would have been the unchallenged lead story of the day.
But more news that challenged the Cosby story and the others for primacy was yet to come. At 6 P.M. E.T., former FBI director James Comey, a political lightning rod since the publication of his bestselling anti-Trump book A Higher Loyalty ten days ago, showed up (late due to traffic) for a live one-on-one interview with Fox News Channel anchor Bret Baier on Special Report. (Video: part 1, part 2.) Like his former boss President Trump's interview on Fox News ten hours earlier, Comey's conversation made news. He disclaimed any knowledge that the infamous dossier used as evidence to obtain FISA warrants to surveil one or more aides to candidate Trump in 2016 – which kicked off the ongoing "collusion with Russia" investigations on multiple fronts – was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign.
And last but not least, in the early evening, major news outlets announced that they had received copies of the 49 pages of the latest release of text messages exchanged between FBI agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok that had just been given to a congressional oversight committee. For a time, it was thought that the so-called missing texts were lost, but they were recovered by an FBI forensics team. Reporters taking a first look at the texts noted the significant redactions that made them barely intelligible at times and the paucity of the material in light of the fact that Strzok and Page were alleged to have exchanged 50,000 texts during their cell phone texting frenzy in 2016-17. During that time, the two were having an adulterous relationship; working on the FBI's Hillary Clinton email and Russia collusion investigations; and harboring an animus toward candidate, president-elect, and then president Donald Trump.
Oh, one more thing: On Thursday evening, another story worth noting came to light when Variety published a major article complete with a video of former NBC correspondent Linda Vester, who alleged in detail that former NBC lead anchor Tom Brokaw had pressured her for unwanted sexual contact 23 years ago when he was the face of the network and at the height of his power.
Linda Vester in her video about Tom Brokaw, Variety, 2018.
As Vester says on camera at the start of the video at Variety:
I'm Linda Vester. For a decade I worked at NBC News as an anchor and correspondent. I was groped and assaulted by Tom Brokaw, then the anchor of NBC Nightly News.
In 2005, Vester retired from her on-air job at the Fox News Channel, after she left NBC, to become a stay-at-home mom. In her video statement, she describes suffering "years of shame, humiliation," and "PTSD" following the alleged incidents with Brokaw.
Legendary NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw allegedly made unwanted sexual advances against multiple women in the 1990s, a bombshell set of reports revealed Thursday, months after a separate set of accusations led to the downfall of longtime "Today" anchor Matt Lauer.
Brokaw quickly issued a denial and gave the following statement to Variety via NBC:
I met with Linda Vester on two occasions, both at her request, 23 years ago because she wanted advice with respect to her career at NBC. The meetings were brief, cordial and appropriate, and despite Linda's allegations, I made no romantic overtures towards her at that time or any other.
One can only wonder, what's next? As Linda Ellerbee, the host of NBC Overnight in the early 1980s, used to say: "And so it goes."