PR Grandmaster

Scott Adams argues that the average guy's main takeaway from President Trump's letter firing Comey is the odd sentence thanking him for informing him that he was not under investigation.  Adams credits Trump with getting his opponents in the media to intone "not under investigation" non-stop for several days, thus laying out one simple and comprehensible concept while thoroughly confusing the public on nearly other aspect of the firing.


E Hines said...

Adams is misunderstanding. Recall that Trump was POed that Sessions recused himself from matters related to the Russian influence investigation. That wasn't because Trump wanted his boy to run the investigation, but because Trump wanted to fire Comey much sooner. He couldn't, though, without an MFR from the AG saying it was necessary, unless he was willing to put up with an even bigger storm about his interfering with the investigation.

That meant he had to wait on a Deputy AG being confirmed. When that happened, he was able to get his MFR and fire Comey. And he has lots of folks related to the investigations pointing out that the loss of the FBI Director will not in any way hinder that investigation, and there are some folks saying that with Comey gone, the opportunity exists to get greater clarity, faster, in the investigation, whether because Comey was in the way or because the spotlight now shines brightly on the investigation.

It isn't any more complex than that. And I don't know anyone in my little circle of the public who's the least bit confused on any aspect of the firing.

Eric Hines

Texan99 said...

I doubt your circle is particularly representative, any more than mine is. We sometimes forget that most of the public is barely paying attention.

E Hines said...

That majority that isn't paying attention isn't confused, either.

Eric Hines

Texan99 said...

There we must disagree. Half the people hearing the story can't even figure out whether they did or didn't want Comey to be fired. The commentary is an incoherent mess, more sputtering than rational. You have to be pretty motivated to read a lot of accounts to get anything like a clear picture. Few people are that interested. It's a burning issue to the media, who make the mistake of believing that most Americans share their interest.

Grim said...

First of all, Adams opens with a deplorable pun. (And if you're going to open with a pun, why not a deplorable one?)

"For starters, the topic is too complicated for the public..."

I don't know if that's true. Everyone who pays any attention has heard everyone who matters calling for Comey to resign/step down/be fired. Trump fired him, being the only one who could, and now those same people have gone insane. Most people will take away that politicians are hypocrites who are just playing partisan games.

Adams gets there: "How dare President Trump fire the person we publicly demanded he fire!"

Well, right.

Tom said...

“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

That actually is an odd sentence to be in this letter. It stuck out to me the first time I read it.

And it seems a lot of Proglodytes are confused: Their leadership has been able to quickly make the mental bootlegger turn necessary to go from demonizing Comey for sinking Hillary in the election to declaring him an avenging saint out to expose the Russian puppet masters behind the evil Trump, but the followership still cheers when they hear Comey's been sacked.

Cassandra said...

There are 3 or 4 really excellent op-eds in the WSJ about this today. Dan Henninger and Kim Strassel stand out particularly, but James Freeman's May 10th piece (he took over Best of the Web from James Taranto) makes some great points.

Key quotes:

Freeman: The position of many leading Democrats in Washington today is that President Donald Trump should have retained a politically driven, incompetent FBI director in order to avoid the perception of a politically driven, incompetent FBI....Over at the New York Times , the editorial writers agree that Mr. Comey “deserves all the criticism heaped upon him for his repeated missteps in [Clinton's email] case.” Yet they simultaneously argue that by firing him, “President Trump has cast grave doubt on the viability of any further investigation” into possible Russian connections.
So the only way to prevent people from having doubts about this high-profile investigation is to assure them it will be overseen by someone who botched the last one?

Heh :)

More to follow.

Link for Freeman:

Cassandra said...

Strassel's op-ed is now up an Instapundit, so I won't quote it. Henninger's article is really first rate, too:

Henninger: If you read nothing else while fighting through the maelstrom around President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, read the full text of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s memorandum titled “Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI.” Mr. Rosenstein’s memo makes meticulously clear the short version of this grandiose episode: Director Comey’s behavior violated numerous standards of federal prosecutorial procedure and lines of authority inside the Department of Justice.

Specifically, writes Mr. Rosenstein, “The Director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution.”


As with Hillary’s server, there is a Rosetta Stone for the Russia story. It is the Barack Obama/Loretta Lynch decision in January to sign rules permitting the National Security Agency to disseminate “raw signals intelligence” to 16 other intelligence agencies without privacy protections for individuals.

Two months later, it was reported by the New York Times that Obama administration officials had done this to dispense information across the intelligence bureaucracies “about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians.” Of course, those “contacts” leaked into the water-collection barrels of the entire Washington press—either from officials inside 17 U.S. intelligence agencies or from Obama officials themselves, such as it-wasn’t-me Susan Rice.

The predictable tumult from the Obama-originated mass leaks then intimidated Congress into sending the House and Senate intelligence committees chasing after these “suggestions” of collusion.

Beyond Mike Flynn and Carter Page, why haven’t we seen more leaks pushing past the original stories? Why have the leakers gone silent, unless they leaked everything they had? Indeed why hasn’t there been a mega-dump into the press by now of all the original NSA “raw signals intelligence” à la the Pentagon Papers?

Instead, calls are now bubbling up from this swamp—what else can you call it?—to appoint a special prosecutor, presumably to get to the bottom of the Russian collusion swamp, though without subpoena powers in Moscow.

Cassandra said...

I have to agree with Tex about public confusion. Bloggers and avid watchers of politics on the right are used to distrusting/discounting the press. It's almost a reflex with us.

But that's not true of America at large. Most don't follow the news avidly. They are vaguely aware of headlines and the natterings of TV anchors and pundits. And whenever they see all of these voices singing from the same sheet of music, they tend (even if they're skeptical of the press) to think they're hearing an unchallengeable consensus.

Yanno, kind of like what happens with climate change.

There's enough dissonance coming from the WH to make most folks feel like they have some cause for concern. That feeling is only amplified when the press beat the Trump is an Authoritarian Dictator Who Will Kill Us All drum 24/7/365. Part of them likes his refusal to bow down to the chattering class, but another part of them sees the herd stampeding in one direction and doesn't want to be left alone.

E Hines said...

It's a burning issue to the media, who make the mistake of believing that most Americans share their interest.

Indeed. And there lies the confusion. Except the NLMSM isn't at all confused; its take is deliberate, as a NYT movie (?) critic wrote and the Times agreed to the point of making this back section columnist's piece a front page article, and as Howard Kurtz has pointed out on numerous occasions.

I just don't see any evidence that a significant fraction of the public really is confused, whether because they know better or because they're that disinterested--lack of knowledge or of understanding isn't the same as being confused.

As to the curious sentence in the firing letter that Tom pointed out, that just struck me as a Trumpian version of the general idea of saying something nice about the guy being fired so he can leave with some dignity. And as a pundit (I can't recall his name) pointed out, with that sentence, Trump has the NLMSM saying repeatedly the words "Trump is not under investigation"--a standard marketing ploy to pound a concept into consumers' minds.

Relatedly separately: the NLMSM is so self-important that it can't even recognize when it's being trolled.

Eric Hines

Texan99 said...

The applause from Colbert's audience is exhibit A in my case for public confusion. Most of the people who are hopping up and down on this issue couldn't put their position into coherent words to save their lives.

E Hines said...

I don't think Colbert's audience is any more representative of the public than your or my circle.

Eric Hines

jaed said...

I took the sentence as having an almost visible " two-faced suckup little weasel, you" right after "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation..."

In other words, I read it as suggesting that Comey had been trying to keep from getting fired by intimating that he wouldn't embarrass him, Trump. While perhaps simultaneously leaking the opposite take.

Texan99 said...

Oh, yes, I heard that message loud and clear, too.

I generally think rather well of Comey, so I really hope Trump was jumping to uncharitable conclusions there. I'd like to imagine that Comey didn't actually say or imply that he should be spared from firing because he was in a position to reassure his boss that he wasn't investigating him. I think Comey got lost and screwed up, but not by being dishonest or deliberately protecting powerful malefactors. I have some sympathy for his position that we have to be careful about pitched battles between branches of government at the highest levels. Whenever possible, I'd like these disputes to be resolved by voters armed with all the information we can give them.

Nevertheless, while Comey may have had god motives for violating the precepts of his office, you're supposed to resign or be fired when you do that.

Texan99 said...

"Good" motives.

jaed said...

I try also to remember that—while I think Comey handled the Hillary thing about as badly as possible, ruling out prosecution because "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring a case against such a powerful person, while simultaneously holing her below the waterline with public discussion of her wrongdoing—he was in a very difficult position, and he didn't put himself there. Loretta Lynch did, when she decided to meet with the spouse of a person under active criminal investigation (!) in secret (!!), and then decided to dump the decision on Comey because otherwise her ethical violation would look even worse than it already did. He didn't start the fire.

E Hines said...

Comey didn't have to feed the fire, either. He could have--should have--passed his recommendation to AG Loretta Lynch. Lynch then could have publicized the recommendation or passed it down to her Deputy for publication. Lynch, after all, not only did not recuse herself, she said she'd remain involved in the investigation, only accepting the FBI's recommendation. and . There was nothing in Lynch's statement that authorized Comey to speak for the AG on any recommendations.

Furthermore, Comey was totally out of line to lay out the evidence he had against Clinton since he was not recommending prosecution.

Comey did both of those egregiously bad things all by himself, nobody put him in a very difficult position; he put himself there.

Eric Hines