While You Were Offline: Sam Nunberg’s Big, Bad Media Tour 2018

Clocks move forward this weekend, which can only mean it’s time for the East Coast to struggle under feet of snow once again. Well, that or it's time for Barack and Michelle Obama to team up with Netflix to produce shows to guide humanity into the future. While the world keeps turning, however, let’s answer this one very important question: What was the rest of the internet up to last week?

Sam Nunberg Does the Rounds

What Happened: In a move that surely delighted everyone who'd ever wanted to ignore all legal advice and do something stupid, one witness in the ongoing investigation into potential Russian interference in the 2016 election decided to do a media tour after receiving a subpoena for evidence. Whoops!

What Really Happened: Before last week, it’s probably fair to say that most people hadn’t heard of Sam Nunberg. Prior to Monday, he was pretty much known as a former Donald Trump campaign aide who didn’t like Trump. After this week, though? Well, now everyone knows who Sam Nunberg is.

How amazing was Nunberg’s MSNBC call? Amazing enough that people couldn’t really believe it was happening at the time.

Impressively enough, things only got stranger; once Nunberg was finished talking to Katy Tur, he started calling up other news shows for follow-ups.

As people started wondering whether he was sending a message to Trump or simply having some kind of public breakdown—many theories abounded—some people were just stunned that it didn’t seem to stop.

The Takeaway: The best part of it all? After a full day of telling people that he wasn’t going to co-operate with special counsel Robert Mueller, he then changed his mind and decided that, you know what? He’ll co-operate after all.

The Resignation of Gary Cohn

What Happened: The saga of “People Leaving the White House” continued last week as the director of the National Economic Council and chief economic advisor to President Trump jumped ship.

What Really Happened: He’s stuck with the president through thick, thin, and his talk of "both sides" following the Charlottesville white supremacist rally, but last week Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, finally found the thing that pushed him over the edge: trade tariffs.

The New York Times broke the story, but the news quickly spread. Cohn was leaving, and it was a big deal. As always, Twitter was swift to react.

While many were quick to praise Cohn as a man of principle, others wanted to put his resignation in some (much-needed) perspective.

Turns out, some people were upset about Cohn’s departure. And those people were the ones with money who paid attention to what the Trump Administration does in respect to financial planning.

That doesn’t seem like an incredibly positive sign. But the White House, as is traditional, wanted to play down the very idea that this was a problem.

How do those inside the building really feel, though? Let’s just look at how a couple of key figures Cohn worked with reacted to the news.

“Globalist,” huh? That's not too surprising, but as some pointed out, that can be read as an anti-Semitic term.

The Takeaway: But where will Cohn go now?

Coming Up After the Break

What Happened: How best to announce a major foreign policy moment? Maybe teasing it in the press room, like it’s a promo for The Apprentice? Can that be forgiven if it’s what it appears to be?

What Really Happened: It seemed like just a normal Thursday in the White House—which is to say chaotic (sorry, filled with great energy)—until, out of nowhere, the president came into the press room to drop an unexpected tease to the media.

That’s certainly exciting. But you know what’s more exciting? Finding out that the Pentagon wasn’t in the loop.

No, wait. That’s terrifying, not exciting. So, everyone wondered, what could it be? Things started to leak early, because … well, of course they did.

Turns out, the rumors was true: Trump had agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after months of nuclear brinksmanship and name-calling. (Remember “Rocket Man” and boasts of bigger buttons?) Some were thrilled with the news.

Indeed, US senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina got very excited, offering a statement that seemed like a dare.

Why would you tell the North Koreans not to play Trump? Isn't that a huge part of the reason they’re doing this? You’re just going to make them want to do it even more. Don’t say things like that! No wonder that others were, shall we say, less than enthused about the move.

But let’s be optimistic for a brief second, while accepting that such naiveté is only likely to lead to heartache down the road. If this actually leads to a de-escalation in nuclear brinksmanship with North Korea, never mind the rumored retirement of the North Korean nuclear program, that would be an astonishing accomplishment, even if it was one that was accidentally arrived at rather than the game of four-dimensional chess everyone would rather pretend it is. Here’s to … the potential continuation of peace?

The Takeaway: There is one thing that almost everyone can count on during whatever happens in the meeting between the leaders, of course.

More Stormy Weather

What Happened: Just when you thought there was no more juice left in the Stormy Daniels/Donald Trump affair, things continued to get, well, juicier.

What Really Happened: Let’s check in on the apparently ongoing Stormy Daniels/Donald Trump affair. Well, one kind of affair, at least. You might think you know everything there is to know about what happened, but apparently not.

Yes, amazingly, President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen complained that he was never reimbursed for his payoff to Stephanie Clifford, the adult actress known as Stormy Daniels, which is a fascinating revelation considering that the president, according to Cohen, knew nothing about this whole thing.

Still, surely things can't get any worse.

No no. We said surely things can't get any worse.

Sometimes, you have to wonder just how good of a lawyer Michael Cohen really is, don’t you? Or even if he is a lawyer at all…

Oh, but wait! Then Clifford sued Trump, claiming that the agreement used to try and buy her silence was actually invalid because Trump had never signed it. Ridiculous enough yet? Well, then there’s what the lawsuit actually revealed.

Yes, the lawsuit turned out to be required reading that raised all kinds of questions, some of which were asked to the person whose job is supposed to be answering questions for the president.

Of course, that response raised a somewhat obvious problem.

This apparently didn’t go down well in the White House.

As everyone talked about Trump’s unhappiness, some pointed out that it’s not like it was the press secretary's fault, per se.

Who’d work in the White House, at this point? No matter what you do, you’re more than likely to upset the man in the Oval Office.

The Takeaway: At least there’s nothing inherently contradictory in the positions taken here.

They’re All Gonna Laugh @ You

What Happened: What would you do if your Amazon Alexa just started laughing at you for no immediately obvious reason?

What Really Happened: It’s been a while since we’ve thought about the idea that artificial intelligences and new technologies are actually going to betray humanity, and yet here it is: Amazon’s Alexa is laughing at people.

Spooky and weird, as we’re sure you’d agree. But, it turns out, that person wasn’t alone.

Yes, this is how The Terminator starts these days: The robot revolution is all about home devices loudly judging the people who use them. Many, of course, saw this coming.

As it happened, Amazon had an explanation for the whole thing, but that didn’t stop everyone freaking out about it anyway. Of course, not everyone was freaked out by the laughter…

Some even felt like things didn’t go far enough…

Come on, denizens of the internet. Can’t you just accept that some things are weird for once?

The Takeaway: If only there was a way to simultaneously dunk on one brand while promoting another…

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