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EXEC SUMMARY: This is "the calm before the impeachment storm," Fox's Neil Cavuto said. Sure is. I was going to take this day off, but the storm clouds were too captivating. The Senate will convene at 1pm ET Tuesday and senators will debate Mitch McConnell's organizing resolution... Chuck Schumer says McConnell is "intent on rushing the trial through..." Trump allies say it should be rushed because it's a sham... No matter what happens, journalists should be on the side of the public, helping viewers and readers be as well-informed as possible...

 

"Midnight Mitch"


"‪This," Carl Bernstein said on "AC360" Monday night, "is the most important moment for the Republican Party since the censure of Joe McCarthy and the impeachment and resignation of Richard Nixon, in which Republicans became great heroes and patriots. Now we're looking at 'Midnight Mitch' and the so-called world's greatest deliberative body really embracing a cover-up that is there for all to see. That's what this is about. It's about preventing information from becoming known and seen by the American public."‬ Bernstein argued that the Republicans have "impeded the facts from the beginning..."

 >> Related: Neal Katyal on Rachel Maddow's show: "The McConnell rules announced tonight have the same basic theme, which is, 'How do we hide as much information as possible from the American people?'"
 
 

Hannity's opening argument


Before the trial kicks off in earnest, Sean Hannity presented his opening argument on Monday night. When he wasn't quoting Trump's lawyers word-for-word, he was mirroring their arguments.
Notably, parts of Hannity's monologue were directed at members of the GOP. Accompanied by graphics that said things like "DEMS VS. THE CONSTITUTION," Hannity said the articles of impeachment "are an affront to our entire constitutional system." He mocked Republicans who dare take the charges seriously. "No Republican senator -- listen, voters out there, you elect these people -- should give this one iota of legitimacy," he said.

Hannity then addressed GOP voters: "It is not your Republican senators' job to bolster what are pathetically weak articles of impeachment from the House. It is not your senators' duty to call witnesses that the House didn't even subpoena. It is not your representative's responsibility to investigative evidence the House neglected to examine. There are no do-overs. The Senate doesn't get to take on the constitutional role of the House. Senators review the articles of impeachment -- that's it -- as delivered by the House."

 >> Did Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Lamar Alexander hear Hannity's monologue? Do they care what he thinks?
 
 

Some Fox faves will be on Trump's "impeachment team"


The W.H. said Monday night that these House members will be "part of his team working to combat this hyper-partisan and baseless impeachment:" Doug Collins, Mike Johnson, Jim Jordan, Debbie Lesko, Mark Meadows, John Ratcliffe, Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin...
 
 

What to do...


Journalists and producers and analysts should start at the beginning. Explain what the evidence shows and why it's so troubling. Don't assume that people are all caught up on the case, because many are not. Others are genuinely confused about what's been alleged and what's been documented. While the facts are generally not contested, the facts have been obscured by Trumpworld's fog...
 

What NOT to do...


Brian Lowry emails: The overlap between two weeks of Super Bowl hype and impeachment coverage is a sign of what news outlets should avoid but already appear tempted to do — namely, cover the whole thing like a sporting event. We've seen some of that in the handicapping of Trump’s legal team, and my fear is the "Who's up, who scored" dynamic will drown out more sober analysis...
 
 

Helpful links


 -- Here's "what we know and don't know" about the trial, by CNN's Ted Barrett, Ali Zaslav and Caroline Kelly...

 -- CNN's perfectly timed new poll shows that 51% of Americans want Trump convicted and removed from office, and 69% want testimony from new witnesses...

 -- Speaking of new witnesses, here is WaPo's scoop: Trump’s lawyers and Senate GOP allies are working privately to ensure John Bolton "does not testify publicly..."

 -- Politico's John Bresnahan and Burgess Everett split the Senate up into four factions and "key blocs" for the trial...
 
 

What to expect on TV


Wall-to-wall coverage on all the major cable news channels, natch. NBC, ABC, and CBS will also carry the proceedings live on Tuesday afternoon, though it's unclear what the broadcast networks will do if arguments roll into early evening, prime time and late night. All of the broadcasters could point to their streaming services and digital subchannels -- options that didn't exist the last time a president was put on trial...

 >> On cable, MSNBC's special coverage starts at 9am ET Tuesday with Chuck Todd... Ari Melber anchors at 10... then Brian Williams and Nicolle Wallace take over at 11. Fox's coverage will be led from DC by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. On CNN, Anderson Cooper will be in DC along with Wolf Blitzer, Jake Tapper, and Dana Bash.

 >> On PBS, Judy Woodruff will anchor alongside Lisa Desjardins, Yamiche Alcindor, and others, starting at 12:30pm ET "and going, well, for long time (hello 1 am?)," PBS exec Sara Just tweeted...

 >> On Tuesday and Wednesday Fox News will also provide Fox affiliates with an optional live coverage feed anchored by Bill Hemmer...
 
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE

 -- The Trump defense team's plan is "a middle finger stuck at the impeachment process, rather than any kind of organized effort to convince senators or the public that the president's conviction would be unmerited, imprudent, or unjust," Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes write. They describe Trump's legal brief as a "howl of rage..." (The Atlantic)

 -- Daily Caller News Foundation's Peter J. Hasson tweeted: "I could be wrong but I really don't think people outside the DC/NYC bubble are as amped up about impeachment at this point as are media inside it..." (Twitter)

🔌: I'll be on "CNN Tonight with Don Lemon" in the 11pm hour...
 
 

Burdensome restrictions on the press are in place


The Capitol Hill press access restrictions we've been talking about for the past few days are, in fact, being put into effect. "Magnetometer is in place in the Senate Press Gallery as feared," the LAT's Sarah D. Wire told me Monday night. Wire chairs the Standing Committee of Correspondents.

Why it matters: "There is a two century precedent of reporters having unfettered access to the Senate chamber when the body is meeting," Wire said. "The magnetometer means reporters must wait in line to enter and leave the chamber, something that will undoubtedly cause a noisy disruption to what is supposed to be a solemn trial and a delay in the public receiving information about what is happening in the chamber."
 

The Senate will control the cameras


"Even sedate C-SPAN is aggrieved" by the restrictions that are in place, the NYT's Michael Grynbaum wrote the other day. Many people don't know this, but the Senate and the House control the TV cameras that operate in their respective chambers. This limits "what viewers see and hear," Grynbaum noted. C-SPAN and other networks lobbied for access for their own cameras, but the Senate has not budged...
 
 

Dersh then and now


"The Trump rule of there's always a tweet or video seems to extend to his lawyers," Bloomberg's Jennifer Epstein commented on Monday, responding to one of KFILE's discoveries from the CNN archives. Andrew Kaczynski has been sharing video clips of Alan Dershowitz on numerous CNN shows in the nineties, taking positions on impeachment that are 180 degrees from his positions now. "I am much more correct right now," Dersh said on "AC360," when confronted with examples of his reversals...
 
 

16,241


"Three years after taking the oath of office, President Trump has made more than 16,200 false or misleading claims — a milestone that would have been unthinkable when we first created the Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement he has uttered," WaPo's Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly wrote Monday.

The current total is 16,241. This # should be front and center in trial coverage, since Trump's claims need to be measured against his track record of mendacity...
 

FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO

 -- Vindu Goel reports from Mumbai: "Jeff Bezos' ownership of The Washington Post has complicated business for his much bigger company, Amazon, in Trump-era Washington. Now the same thing could be happening in New Delhi under India's prime minister, Narendra Modi..." (NYT)

 -- The NYT editorial board's split decision -- endorsing both Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar in the Dem primary -- was pretty widely mocked on Monday. The Times published a selection of reader reactions on Monday night... (NYT)

 -- "Joe Biden's elevator moment" from Sunday's endorsement episode of "The Weekly" went viral on Monday. It "may be as good as a New York Times endorsement," Chris Cillizza wrote. Here's why... (CNN)

 -- Bill Hemmer had Trump and Michael Bloomberg's campaign managers on his 3pm debut... (Fox)
 
IN OTHER NEWS...
 

Want to buy the Chicago Tribune?

In yesterday's newsletter I wrote about the NYT op-ed by two Chicago Tribune reporters, David Jackson and Gary Marx, urging a "civic-minded local owner or group of owners" to rescue the Trib from the claws of Alden Global Capital. On Monday afternoon I spoke with Jackson and Marx by phone and learned that they're personally trying to entice buyers. "We're doing everything in our power to try to stop them," Marx said, and the op-ed was just part of an effort to raise awareness. Some of their newsroom colleagues are also involved in this informal effort. "There have been some expressions of interest," Jackson said. But "we're not in the deal-making business," Marx added. So they're not involved in any specific talks — they are just trying to get the word out "about the urgency of the matter," Jackson said. Here's my full story...
 

TUESDAY PLANNER

World Economic Forum 2020 begins in Davos...

Oprah Winfrey will reveal her next book club selection on "CBS This Morning..."

"A Very Stable Genius" hits bookshelves...

Also brand new in bookstores: "Unmaking the Presidency: Donald Trump's War on the World's Most Powerful Office," by Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes, and "Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America's Progressive Elite," by Peter Schweizer...
 

KNOW ANYONE?

The BBC needs a new director


Hadas Gold emails with huge news in the UK: The director general of the BBC, Lord Tony Hall, announced on Monday he is stepping down. In a message to staff, Hall said he was leaving to allow a new leadership team to steer the broadcaster through a mid-term review in 2022 of the BBC's charter, which expires in 2027, when the UK government will review BBC's funding. Hall is taking up a new position as chairman of the National Gallery's Board of Trustees.

The BBC is coming down from a bruising 2019 general election campaign, in which it faced accusations of bias from both main UK political parties, plus a recent survey showing the organization losing public trust. Plus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested reforms to the main way the BBC is funded: The mandatory license fee all TV owners must pay.

 >> A search for a replacement, which is technically appointed by the Queen under the recommendation of the Culture Secretary, is already underway...

 >> Read Jack Guy, Sarah Dean and Gold's full CNN.com story here...
 

YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST...
 

A collaborative project to cover the Latino electorate


The daily radio program The World knows all about collaboration -- it is produced by PRX, WGBH and the BBC. Now The World is launching what it calls a "collaborative public media reporting project" about the Latino electorate in the lead-up up to the 2020 election. The project will be announced on Tuesday and will begin in February. Per a spokesman, "there will be regular contributions and reporting from public radio stations across the country – Texas, Arizona, Florida, Washington, Georgia, and North Carolina." It will be funded by a $300,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting...
 
 

How a Facebook Live video sparked new protests in Puerto Rico


NYT's Alejandra Rosa and Patricia Mazzei write: "The man streaming on Facebook Live looked straight into his cellphone camera and promised that the footage to come would be outrageous. 'Share what you’re about to see,' he urged his viewers. Moments later, he walked into a huge warehouse" and revealed "unused emergency aid." 

"The video, streamed on Saturday by Lorenzo Delgado Torres, who calls himself 'El León Fiscalizador,' or the lion of accountability, immediately exploded on social media." Keep reading...

 >> CNN's latest: "Puerto Ricans call for resignation of governor..."
 

FOR THE RECORD, PART THREE

 -- "Harry has long had a frosty relationship with the media, and on Sunday he made it clear that the press was a major reason for the couple's decision to step back from royal life..." (AP)

 -- James Titcomb with a reminder of what's broken in the online publishing business: "Google and Facebook advertisers losing billions from online fraud..." (The Telegraph)
 
 

Will "Politically Incorrect" ever come back?


In this new episode of Joe Rogan's podcast, Rogan told former "Politically Incorrect" host Bill Maher that someone, presumably someone at ABC, approached him about bringing back Maher's old show. Rogan said his agent called him about the possibility, knowing Rogan wouldn't be interested. "Good luck with it," Maher joked. "I'm not doing it," Rogan said. He said his philosophy is, "once someone does a show, leave it alone." ABC owns the "Politically Incorrect" name and franchise...
 
 

Year over year declines for Championship Sunday 


"The NFL's ratings momentum didn't carry over to Championship Sunday, with both the games on Fox and CBS earning far fewer viewers than they did during the same time a year ago," TheWrap's Sean Burch reports. Chiefs-Titans averaged 41 million TV viewers for CBS and 49ers-Packers averaged 43 million viewers across both TV and streaming for Fox. Burch calls the year over year declines "a blemish on an otherwise strong performance for the NFL this year." At the risk of stating the obvious, this doesn't bode well for the Super Bowl...
 
FOR THE RECORD, PART FOUR

By Lisa Respers France:

 -- It's not just Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston -- Here are some celeb couples whose breakups we have never gotten over...

 -- Dwayne Johnson has opened up about his dad's sudden death, including the cause....

 -- Radiohead has launched a "public library," which includes rare EPs of the British band...
 
 

Best picture race between '1917' and 'Parasite' ?


"It was a weekend that may have reshaped the Oscar race," THR's Scott Feinberg writes

The top prizes at the PGA Awards and the SAG Awards "each went to movies starring people virtually nobody in the Academy had heard of prior to this awards season, many still cannot name and none of whom are personally nominated for an Oscar. The films are 1917 and Parasite, respectively, and call to mind the Oscar race of 11 years ago, when a little movie called Slumdog Millionaire, which starred a bunch of newcomers people couldn't help but root for, won both of those prizes and eventually the best picture Oscar." Keep reading...
 
 

Robert De Niro presented the case for activism by actors and athletes


Brian Lowry emails: Robert De Niro and LeBron James might seem like an unlikely duo, but the actor's SAG acceptance speech echoed the basketball star's documentary "Shut Up and Dribble" — a full-throated defense of the right of celebrities, as citizens, to speak their minds. It's a lesson, seemingly, that needs to be retaught every awards season. More...
 
Thank you for reading! Email me your feedback anytime...
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