When it comes to sharp, incisive, clear-thinking commentary during unscripted interviews, The Cable Gamer thinks of plenty of names before coming up with Brooke Baldwin. CNN’s afternoon chatterbox is known for having her difficulties with the English language, which sometimes lead her into embarrassing predicaments. It was difficult avoiding her today (the downside of air transporation is airports and their slim pickings when it comes to cable news) and what we saw was not what one would expect from the self-proclaimed “most trusted name in news.”
The topic was a Trump volunteer who wanted to take a meeting with Putin in Russia. And Brooke had the breaking news about what really happened:
BROOKE BALDWIN: This was a big deal because we had thought, right, that Trump hadn’t perhaps wanted to have this meeting with Putin, and according to our sources, he in fact did, and it was Sessions that said no.
JIM SCIUTTO: That’s right…
Jim Sciutto was introduced with no disclosure that he was a political appointee in the Obama administration. But he confirmed what Baldwin said: Trump wanted to have the meeting.
Or did he?
SCIUTTO: And in that meeting he suggested this meeting with Putin in Russia, which Trump was present, didn’t immediately knock it down. Sessions did knock it down…
Did Trump say he wanted to have the meeting, or did he simply not knock it down? They are not the same thing. And what is “immediately” intended to convey? That he didn’t knock it down then, but two minutes later he did? Are you clear on what happened? Your Cable Gamer isn’t. Two different versions of the same discussion, and nobody bothers to say which is correct. Maybe they’re both wrong! So much for journalism. Brooke wasn’t interested in straightening it out. She moved on.
Earlier in the hour Baldwin had been excitedly teasing a Paul Rappaport passport scandal:
BALDWIN: Why would Paul Manafort have three passports?
BALDWIN: Why would he have three passports and is that even legal?
Now that Brooke had the chance, she posed the question–only it was in the form of a statement:
BALDWIN: Paul Manafort had three passports. That cannot be legal.
Brooke may not be the most skilled wordsmith in the cable game, but she understands the rhetorical climax: a series of related ideas so arranged that each surpasses the preceding in force or intensity. She moves from three passports, to asking if three passports are legal, to declaring that it “cannot be legal.” All the teases kept the viewer waiting for this big reveal. And then it came:
SCIUTTO: Well it’s not…I don’t know…I have two passports. You can get more than one passport for reasons of convenience…
Sciutto moved from the number of passports to another issue, leaving that whole build-up the televised equivalent of internet click-bait: make the suckers think they are going to hear something big, and when it collapses, disgorge some word salad and move on to the next talking point. And if people should end up with the impression that there just might be something illegal about having three passports–so much the better!
Brooke Baldwin has a good on-air personality and does well with stories that don’t require a surfeit of precision. But she has problems communicating facts without leaving people who are actually listening either befuddled or annoyed. Not something your Cable Gamer wants to be while sitting on an uncomfortable airport chair. Next time: the train.