Squeezing the last drops of Trump outrage

It's business.

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It says something about a newsroom when its commentary makes even Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota look sane and charitable.

CNN anchors had a weird field day Monday, mocking first lady Melania Trump and her efforts to decorate the White House for Christmas. Because there was apparently nothing else to talk about Monday morning.

“I'm also just not sure ... that Christmas decorations are her thing or her interest,” said CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota, noting the first lady’s absence this week during the unveiling of the White House's seasonal makeover. “And the reason I base that is the phone call her former best friend, or close friend, Stephanie Wilcox recorded, where they talk about the first lady’s role of decorating for Christmas, and here is a portion of that.”

The cable news network then played leaked audio of a private phone conversation between the first lady and her former senior adviser, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.

In the recording, a frustrated Trump says, “They say I’m complicit. I’m the same. Like him. I support him. I don’t say enough. I don’t do enough. Where I am. I put, I’m working like a, my ass off at Christmas stuff that, you know, who gives a f--- about Christmas stuff and decoration. But I need to do it, right?”

Trump adds, “OK, and then I do it. And I say that I am working on Christmas, planning for the Christmas. And they say, ‘Oh, what about the children that they were separated?’ Give me a f---ing break. Where they were saying anything when Obama did that?”

The context of the audio is clear. Trump says she is trying her best to perform the duties of her office, all while facing criticism for policies in which she had no say. There is no indication she even supports said policies. Trump feels restricted to menial tasks. She feels she does not have the opportunity to engage in nobler efforts, including reconnecting immigrant children with their parents. Trump feels she is a constant target of the press’s mockery.

This is all old news, by the way. The leaked audio came out in October. On Monday, the CNN gang merely dredged it up again to discuss the 2020 White House Christmas decorations, which the first lady headed up again.

“We’ve never heard anything like that from the first lady,” marveled CNN contributor Kate Andersen Brower. “This is one of the traditional parts of the job. It's something they're expected to enjoy.”

Brower continued, promoting an already debunked lie, saying the tape "goes on to talk about the children that were being held at the border, separated from their parents, and she goes on to defend that policy, in that phone conversation with her former friend, so yeah, I mean, Christmas, if anyone's heard that tape, they know that this is not something that she particularly enjoys, and it was a very controversial comment, and so I don't think they're eager to have her go out there talking about the Christmas decorations this year.”

CNN’s John Berman then launched into a weird non sequitur mocking Fox News and its annual obsession with the “war on Christmas.” Camerota happily played along, which is especially rich, considering she apparently had no problem with Fox News’s programming for any of the 16 years she worked at the right-leaning cable network.

Asked Berman later in the segment, “You have any sense at this point, Kate of what happens after Jan. 20 for the first lady?”

“Who knows, but we do know how she feels about Christmas decorations,” Camerota said after Brower offered some thoughts.

“Yeah, I don't think it will be a coffee table book on Christmas decorations if she writes that,” said Berman, belaboring the point.

Meanwhile, Omar, who is an out-and-out partisan political operative, and is paid to be one, had this to say about the first lady’s job of decorating the White House: “This is beautifully decorated and can be appreciated if we don’t allow our politics to dilute everything.

It makes sense that CNN would continue to go down the path of reflexive anti-Trumpism, even as lawmakers such as Omar appear ready to bring it down a notch. Trump is defeated. Omar has no use anymore for a scorched earth policy against all things Trump. CNN, on the other hand, has an incentive to squeeze every last drop of outrage out of the outgoing administration. After all, extreme anti-Trumpism has been pretty good for business. May as well make the most of it while it lasts.

Still, when your coverage and commentary is more deranged than even Omar, the wildest of the Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse, maybe it is time to sit down and reevaluate how you “report” the news.

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