It’s a long-standing practice of politicians. Got controversial or potentially damaging news to be reported? Dump it on late Friday afternoon or evening in the hopes that people won’t be paying as much attention or at least not as much attention compared to the rest of the week. The Trump administration has it down to a science and engaged in the mother of all news dumps Friday.
1. The pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Trump hinted in his classic meltdown speech in Phoenix Tuesday that he would give a free pass to the bigoted Arizona sheriff who was convicted of criminal contempt of court for refusing to stop profiling Hispanics. Trump followed through Friday and did so without a recommendation from the Department of Justice which routinely makes them.
There is no doubt other presidents have granted controversial pardons. Bill Clinton comes to mind. He pardoned the 16 members of the notorious FALN paramilitary group and financier Mark Rich. Gerald Ford essentially sank his chances of election by granting a preemptive pardon of Richard Nixon.
However, the timing of the Arpaio pardon is stunning. Coming off the violence in Charlottesville and Trump’s tone deaf response, the pardoning of Arpaio is another wink and nod to bigots.
2. The signing of the order banning transgendered folks from the military. The plan was announced last month without input from the Pentagon and without any plan for implementation. Trump signed the actual order Friday.
As Illinois US Sen. Tammy Duckworth put it, “When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter after I was shot down, I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white or brown. All that mattered was they didn’t leave me behind.” Indeed.
3. The firing of Sebastian Gorka. No one is really sure what this guy did in the White House to start with, but his nationalistic-dripped TV appearances were troubling from the start. This was a news dump not so much about his firing but about the fact that he was there in the first place.
News dumps are always more effective when other events help distract from. All eyes are on Texas where Hurricane Harvey is wreaking havoc after making landfall. The news coverage is wall to wall.
Kim Jung-Un is at it again. North Korea fired a trio of missiles amidst joint military exercises between the US and South Korea. This comes after Secretary of State Tillerson praised North Korea for showing “restraint.”
Trump’s entire presidency has been a series of, “Wait, look over there!” There is no evidence it won’t continue.