If you were hoping for a low-on-Trump media scan today, well, I'm afraid I can't help you. The weekend news cycle was not kind to the White House and the drip-drip of further revelations about Trump Jr.'s Russia meeting sure hasn't been helping. But hey, there is one Trump-free item herewith -- see No. 6, below -- though I should warn you that's Ed Sheeran-related. Anyway, let's get started ...
1. Nice try! In a Reuters story this mornng titled "U.S. Secret Service rejects suggestion it vetted Trump son's meeting," Arshad Mohammed and Howard Schneider write,
"Well, I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in. The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me," Jay Sekulow, a member of the president's legal team, said on Sunday on the ABC news program "This Week." In an emailed response to questions about Sekulow's comments, Secret Service spokesman Mason Brayman said the younger Trump was not under Secret Service protection at the time of the meeting, which included Trump's son and two senior campaign officials. "Donald Trump, Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June, 2016. Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time," the statement said.
2. The top story on The Hill's website this morning is headlined "Questions grow over Kushner's security clearances." Katie Bo Williams and Jordan Fabrian write,
Jared Kushner is moving closer to the eye of the storm surrounding President Trump and Russia. Calls for Kushner to lose his security clearance have mounted as congressional investigators probe whether the Trump campaign's digital operation -- run by the president's son-in-law -- coordinated efforts with Russian bots spreading fake news about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Kushner is also a figure in Donald Trump Jr.'s controversial meeting with a Russian lawyer promising damaging information on Clinton.
+ ICYMI from Friday, in a Politico post titled "Why Does Jared Kushner Still Have a Security Clearance?," former CIA analyst Ned Price writes,
These are the facts: Jared Kushner held suspicious meetings with Russians officials and operatives that he failed to disclose when he applied for a security clearance. If he weren't the president's son in law, he'd have been frogmarched out of the White House long ago. Why does he still have access to America's biggest secrets?
3. Meanwhile ...
With all of its phony unnamed sources & highly slanted & even fraudulent reporting, #Fake News is DISTORTING DEMOCRACY in our country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2017
The ABC/Washington Post Poll, even though almost 40% is not bad at this time, was just about the most inaccurate poll around election time!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2017
More on that poll in a moment, but first, here's one of the many tweets responding to the president's tweet:
Because if anyone learned anything in the past two years it's that polls are always super accurate! pic.twitter.com/jQdufVhBQo— Gab (@getongab) July 16, 2017
4. Here's a summary, via ABC News, of the poll Trump is referring to: "6 months in, a record low for Trump, with troubles from Russia to health care (POLL)." Gary Langer writes,
Americans give President Donald Trump the lowest six-month approval rating of any president in polls dating back 70 years, punctuated by questions about his competence on the world stage, his effectiveness, the GOP health care plan and Russia's role in the 2016 election. Just 36 percent of Americans polled in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of Trump's job performance, down 6 points from his 100-day mark, itself a low. The previous president closest to this level at or near six months was Gerald Ford, at 39 percent, in February 1975.
5. But hey, maybe this will help?: "White House Plans Messaging Campaign to Refocus Attention on Trump's Agenda," per The Wall Street Journal. Michael C. Bender writes,
The White House on Monday will embark on a three-week messaging campaign aimed at refocusing attention on President Donald Trump's agenda and framing a debate later this summer over rewriting the U.S. tax code. The "Made In America" campaign, which starts with the president highlighting locally made products from around the country, is the latest attempt by Mr. Trump's communications team to control a narrative that has consistently spun out of their grasp during the six months since the inauguration.
6. Meanwhile, what the internet is really worked up about at the moment: "Ed Sheeran's dire Game of Thrones cameo: he came, he sang, he ate rabbit" (subhead: "He was just a boy, drinking blackberry wine with Arya Stark -- but his dud performance proves the TV behemoth's fondness for bland musicians"), via The Guardian.
7. And finally, in "Trump Family Values" (subhead: "Amid revelations of Donald, Jr.,'s misguided meeting with two Russians, the President shows once again where his only loyalties lie"), The New Yorker's Editor-in-Chief David Remnick notes a question that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recently asked -- "When will the Republicans collectively say 'enough'?" -- and well, doesn't hold back:
Good question. Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, business leaders such as Stephen Schwarzman and Carl Icahn, and a raft of White House advisers, including the bulk of the National Security Council, cannot fail to see the chaos, the incompetence, and the potential illegality in their midst, and yet they go on supporting, excusing, and deflecting attention from the President's behavior in order to protect their own ambitions and fortunes. They realize that Trump's base is still the core of the G.O.P. electorate, and they dare not antagonize it. The Republicans, the self-proclaimed party of family values, remain squarely behind a family and a Presidency whose most salient features are amorality, greed, demagoguery, deception, vulgarity, race-baiting, misogyny, and, potentially -- only time and further investigation will tell -- a murky relationship with a hostile foreign government.
+ I leave you with The New Yorker's July 24 cover:
An early look at next week's cover, "Grounded." When we asked Barry Blitt about his image for the issue, he responded by quoting a Russian: "Tolstoy said that 'happy families are all alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.' Somehow this seems to apply to the Trumps, particularly lately." #TNYcovers
Thanks to Ann-Christine Diaz and George Slefo for their roundup suggestions.
Simon Dumenco, aka Media Guy, is an Ad Age editor-at-large. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.