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Inside the Beltway: Media drools over headline teasing release of Mueller report

The Washington TimesFebruary 20, 2019

Is it finally showtime? The dramatic but never-ending saga surrounding Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between President Trump and Russia has gone on forever. The grand finale may be at hand, however. A single terse headline tells all:

“Justice Department preparing for Mueller report as early as next week,” CNN proclaimed Wednesday.

Step aside, now. Those 11 words were a catalyst which has set off the proverbial media stampede, with journalists pawing the ground and sniffing the air. News organizations large and small, both here and abroad, quickly deployed the phrase “as early as next week” as their operative term and working narrative. Among the many, many on the bandwagon: CNBC, the Daily Beast, Vox, Breitbart, Salon, Deadline Hollywood, the Guardian, Marketwatch, Bloomberg News, the Brisbane Times and Herald Sun, both in Australia, and the Vindicator, located in Youngstown, Ohio.

Some detect an extra plot line in this drama, however.

“Beware of a Deep State setup on the Mueller report,” talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh told his 14 million listeners as the news broke, warning that strategic and suggestive leaks from certain news organization are sure to follow.

“This is an ongoing palace coup. It’s an ongoing attempt to get Trump’s approval numbers down to 30 or lower,” Mr. Limbaugh advised.

MORE OF GEORGE

ABC News has signed a new four-year deal with George Stephanopoulos which ultimately could be worth a tidy $72 million.

He has been with the network for 17 years and currently anchors “Good Morning America” and “This Week.” The New York Post reports that both CNN and CBS have “heavily courted” Mr. Stephanopoulos to jump ship.

“But in the end, he stayed put, signing a deal with ABC worth somewhere between $15 million and $18 million per year,” The Post said.

RUSH TO OUT-BERNIE BERNIE

There is much Bernie buzz out there. Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent and self-described democratic socialist, declared his intent to run for the White House on Tuesday, then called President Trump a sexist xenophobe and accused billionaire Howard Schultz of “blackmailing” the Democratic Party. Mr. Sanders immediately raised $6 million for his campaign in the 24 hours that followed.

Yes, well. Both Mr. Trump and The Washington Post declared that Mr. Sanders’ “time” had come and gone. Axios pondered the Democratic Party’s “age problem” while former senator Joe Lieberman and “The View” panelist Meghan McCain both warned everyone not to underestimate Mr. Sanders, who will be 79 on election day.

The old guard support for the candidate, meanwhile, is still very much intact.

“We’re supporting Bernie because the next president of the United States will decide the fate of this country and our planet,” declares Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream fame; he has shared Bernie zeal with partner Ben Cohen for many years.

All of this amounts to much Bernie buzz, something not lost on the competition. A dozen Democrats have announced their intent to run for the White House, with another 20 or 30 hopefuls who might follow suit. They’re all looking for buzz too.

“Bernie Sanders is going to force Democrats to lurch further to the left, further to the progressive, socialist side of the Democrat Party. You’re already seeing candidates trying to out-Bernie Bernie and the American people have to look at these radical ideas they’re proposing and what it will do to our economy versus the results of this administration with wages up, jobs coming back, the GDP up. Our country is doing phenomenally well. Why would we want to change that?” Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel asked in a conversation with Fox News.

THE COCKTAIL STATS

The ever-expanding Nielsen ratings system can now determine the favorite cocktails of Americans, based on their painstaking research of “on-premise cocktail consumption” conducted during the last four months of 2018. This research is so precise that it even covers the popularity of libations hour-by-hour, and on a regional basis. For those who wonder, the average price of the American cocktail is $9, though it jumps to $11 in New York City and $12 in Chicago.

Without further ado, however, we reveal that the margarita is in first place as the most popular libation of all, followed by the martini, the old-fashioned, the mimosa and the Moscow mule.

Other drinks which were popular in different locations, or at different times of day include the Bellini, the classic mojito, the Bloody Mary, sangria, the cosmopolitan and the Long Island iced tea.

FOXIFIED

Fox News Channel continues to be the most watched network in the cable realm, according to Nielsen Media Research. Presentations of “Hannity,” “The Ingraham Angle” and “Tucker Carlson Tonight” claimed 14 of the top 30 cable telecasts overall. Fox News drew 2.5 million primetime viewers, compared to 1.9 million for MSNBC and 1 million for CNN.

Fox Business Network, meanwhile, continue to best CNBC, according to Nielsen, led by “Varney & Co., which has been the most watched market program on TV for 91 consecutive weeks. “Lou Dobbs Tonight” also remains No. 1 in business television for the 51st week.

POLL DU JOUR

68 percent of U.S. voters say they are “not comfortable at all” with companies that sell their personal online data; 71 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of independents and 67 percent of Democrats agree.

67 percent place a lot or some value on their online information; 64 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents and 72 percent of Democrats agree.

63 percent say online personal information is private and companies should not share it; 68 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of independents and 64 percent of Democrats agree.

59 percent are not comfortable “at all” that companies can purchase their data; 61 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of independents and 57 percent of Democrats agree.

6 percent don’t place any value on their information; 7 percent of Republicans, 6 percent of independents and 5 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Politico/Morning Consult poll of 1,914 registered U.S. voters conducted Feb. 15-19.

Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.

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