Bob Franken




This is when the follow-up reporting will be the most important part of the stories. I don’t know if President Donald Trump and his people were using the “Friday Night Dump” to obscure the news that the administration moved to get rid of Geoffrey Berman from his post of U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York or whether it was the “Saturday Night Mass Infection” that was supposed to accomplish that.
SDNY is uniquely positioned to prosecute the most important cases in the country, and Berman had moved fearlessly against several of those close to Trump, including an investigation of the Don’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Oh wait, perhaps is it Attorney General Bill Barr who is his personal lawyer. He’s the one who first tried to fire Berman on a Friday night. The thinking goes that people will not be interested in news as they pursue weekend errands and fun stuff. But Berman gummed up the works by refusing to give up his office, and it was the next evening, after Trump got his small dirty hands on it and admitted he gave the “you’re fired” order, that Geoff Berman gave in.
Then it was on to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the Trumpster for his first rally since the pandemic, in spite of the fact that the pandemic is anything but over. And in spite of the fact that six of his advance team had tested positive for COVID. But narcissist-in-chief Trump was unwilling to wait. Happily, even some of his usually rabid fans decided not to attend, and suddenly Donald Trump had to explain away all the unmistakably empty seats. He did that by blaming some protestors and, of course, the fake news media for scaring some of his supporters away.
But even with the less than full house, someone should do a follow-up on how many in attendance caught the coronavirus and how many they infected after they departed. Actually, it will be impossible to quantify the number of those who caught COVID as a result of his basking in the adulation heaped upon him by his screaming followers. But you can bet that in newsroom “futures files” there is a note to try to cover the aftermath about two weeks down the road.

And follow-ups are in order as reporters keep tabs of the number of investigations that are suddenly dropped from the SDNY caseload. Hint: Rudy Giuliani is probably breathing easier these days. Although that won’t happen right away because Berman insisted that his deputy take over in the interim.
Here’s the problem with returning to a story that first emerged a couple of weeks earlier: By then several other news developments and outrages will have occurred to overwhelm interest in such old news. With Donald Trump as president that is a certainty. He will have said or done so much atrocious stuff by then that we will be distracted by them. With Trump, two weeks is an eternity when it comes to an ability to perform insensitive or malevolent acts that would do in a normal politician. But it doesn’t seem to affect Donald Trump, particularly with the millions of people in his base, and particularly with Joe Biden running against him, who can charitably be described as running a relatively sane campaign compared to the steady supply of Trump craziness. Trump’s combination of ignorance, racism — like describing COVID as the “Kung flu” — lies and demagogic red meat hurled at his yapping protestors will continue unabated.
He is the issue in this election, or re-election, however it happens to go. And if “Sleepy Joe,” as Trump insists on calling him, doesn’t wake up and run a hot campaign against the Trumpster, the American people, the ones who are not lemmings, will sit on their duffs while Trump is returned to office and feels free to finish the job — to completely dismantle the United States of America.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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