Day in Brief Transcript 1/9/19

Deep miners couldn’t be more dug in than President Trump and the Democrats when it comes to their positions on the government shutdown and the border wall.

Trump headed to Capitol Hill today for the third round of high-level negotiations. They didn’t last much longer than a TV commercial break. Trump tweeted that it was “a total waste of time,” saying he asked Speaker Pelosi whether she’d approve a wall in 30 days if he agreed to open the government and that she said no. In his words, “I said bye-bye, nothing else works.”

Pelosi called Trump “petulant” and Senator Schumer said Trump had a “temper tantrum,” slamming his hand on the table and walking out. Republicans denied that.

They’re all being childish. Trump refuses to open the government without his wall, and the Democrats refuse to give an inch on the wall or address other legislation as long as the shutdown continues.

While reports indicate that some Republicans are defecting and that freshmen Democrats are feeling the heat as the shutdown drags on, it’s increasingly likely this will become the longest shutdown in history.

The Tuesday prime-time speeches did little to change that. If you’re trying to sell a message, you need to pay attention to substance and form. Trump and the Democrats did neither, delivering no new information and repeating the arguments we have heard ad nauseam for years.

The underwhelming performances from both sides also raise questions about the competence of the presidential and congressional advisers who set up the speeches. My beginner college students could have done a better job at delivering the arguments. Trump was stiff, squinting, and seemed almost angry, while Pelosi and Schumer barely acknowledged each other and seemed mummified.

Meanwhile, airport security lines are lengthening as TSA employees are calling in sick, reduced FDA inspections could be putting our food supply at risk, federal contractors are reportedly losing $200 million a day, and a second federal employees union has sued the Trump administration, alleging workers are being illegally forced to work without pay.

The list of unintended consequences is long: Even a Penn State basketball player can’t get on the court because his mother is a federal worker and, because she hasn’t gotten paid, she hasn’t covered his tuition, so he can’t sign up for classes, making him ineligible. He’s just one of millions of people affected.

Embattled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is reportedly ready to resign as soon as a new Attorney General is confirmed. Rosenstein is said to have expected to only stay two years in the job, and there is no indication he’s being forced out by Trump, despite a contentious relationship with the White House. Rosenstein appointed special counsel Mueller and supervised his investigation for more than a year.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg missed a third straight day of oral arguments and the Supreme Court has not said when she will be back. She’s recuperating from cancer surgery. These are her first absences since she joined the Court 25 years ago. Chief Justice Roberts says she continues to participate from home.

US stocks were up for the fourth day in a row, after a summary of the Federal Reserve’s meeting in December confirmed comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell that indicated interest rate hikes may slow down. US and global stocks were also helped by optimism over the latest round of trade talks with China that ended on Wednesday.

In our alternate universes segment, the great divide between conservative and liberal media was evident in the coverage of the shutdown speeches. If you wanted to hear in-depth analysis, you were mostly stuck with the cable networks. But Fox News allowed Sean Hannity, a vocal Trump supporter, to handle the aftermath, and CNN spent a lot of time fact-checking Trump, while not being nearly as skeptical about the Democrats. ABC and the Fox television network couldn’t get back to their primetime programming quickly enough, with CBS and, to a lesser extent, NBC, providing more comprehensive coverage. As a longtime broadcast network anchor and correspondent, I can’t help but be saddened to see how news at the traditional networks is treated with less and less importance.