It’s easy to overlook things these days. News cycles fly by so quickly that even remembering headlines feels like a chore. Some version of this lede has been written hundreds of times in the past several years and each one of them has been forgotten, swallowed whole by the latest round of maddening news from Donald Trump and his administration.
Late last Friday, Attorney General William Barr said that Deputy U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, Manhattan’s chief federal prosecutor, would be stepping down from his post. Except not only did Berman not step down, he outright refused the dismissal until Trump made it official Saturday. Barr said Trump ordered the firing, but just hours later Trump claimed he was “not involved.”
Trump on firing of Geoffrey Berman: "I'm not involved." (AG Barr says Trump gave the order to fire Berman.) pic.twitter.com/EVv6k5g9Zv
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 20, 2020
Trump lying pettiness aside, Berman was in charge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York—the office who put former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen in prison and is currently investigating Trump’s current lawyer and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. Some say it’s a play to bolster Trump’s reelection chances; others imply that it’s simply an autocratic move to oust any non-loyalists from the Justice Department.
You read all that correctly. The president fired—through his clearly corrupt and by all accounts soulless attorney general—a federal prosecutor with an open investigation into his lawyer who potentially solicited help from a foreign power to dig up dirt on his election opponent. In any other reasonable democratic country this would be considered an outright coup or at the very least corruption. It drew plenty of coverage and Twitter shock from journalists and pundits. But late on a Friday night it quickly became buried under our avalanche of inane of news coverage that soon fixated on Trump’s Tulsa rally and the meager crowd it drew.
I’m glad this rally bombed, but the giddy obsession with crowd sizes means that a slightly more competent fascist — one that can turn out crowds and speak good — is gonna meet basically zero resistance from cable news. https://t.co/Q9DtWgf1gC
— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) June 21, 2020
Even Trump’s most brazen corruption barely makes waves for a day. Part of that, at least, is the media’s fault for amplifying Trump and normalizing his lying, deceit, and outright contempt for laws and norms. Certain things fall through the cracks in our oversaturated media landscape, and cable news will always be more attracted to events that drive ratings—especially pandemic panic and crappily attended rallies. There’s a lot of news to cover, after all. But it’d be nice if the most powerful news outlets in the country (and world) helped keep us all on task instead of wading into mindless bullshit.