Redacted parts of Mueller's latest court filing leave reporters with lots of questions

Posted December 5, 2018 12:13 a.m. EST
Updated December 5, 2018 12:39 a.m. EST

— A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Flynn day

Reporters waited all day for Robert Mueller's court filing ahead of Michael Flynn's sentencing. It finally dropped at 8:30... but reporters were left wanting more. The presumably most newsworthy parts were redacted...

>> Josh Campbell quipped: "Mueller's filing tonight is the equivalent of losing a cell phone call in the tunnel just when it started to get interesting..."

What we don't know

What's in the redactions or when the info will become public!

But "anybody who sees those redactions and thinks they might be in it... is going to be wigged out," Michael Isikoff told Chris Cuomo on CNN...

What we do know

The filing revealed that Flynn has sat for 19 interviews with the special counsel and the DOJ. Flynn was so helpful that the special counsel doesn't think he deserves jail time. The filing "appears to list at least three ongoing investigations being pursued by the Justice Department." Here's CNN's full story...

How it was covered

"8:32. Thanks, news gods. Thanks a lot," Rachel Maddow tweeted when the filing hit.

On CNN, Shimon Prokupecz and Sara Murray read through the court docs while sitting on set with Anderson Cooper. MSNBC went into special coverage mode as well. On Fox, Tucker Carlson made time for a four-minute news report by Jennifer Griffin, then grumbled about the probe. "There had better be a huge crime underlying all of this," Carlson said. "We're really going through a lot." Can Griffin or someone else at Fox please brief Carlson on all the crimes that have been uncovered, so that he doesn't embarrass himself again?

Anyway, Carlson then got back to his shtick. "Vegans aren't just coming after your hamburger, though they are. They want to change the way you speak," he said, teasing an interview with a PETA rep...

Back in the real world, Jeffrey Toobin said he'd be nervous if he were Trump. And former acting US solicitor general Neal Katyal said -- between the Michael Cohen plea deal and the new Flynn info -- "this is a double whammy that, I think, is very, very scary for the president..."

Top tweets

-- Jonathan Chait tweeted: "Mueller pokes his head up, says 6 more weeks of winter, goes back down hole."

-- Natasha Bertrand: "Trump has been urging his associates to have 'guts' and not cooperate in the Russia probe. But Mueller sent a clear message tonight to current/future witnesses: testify honestly and completely, and you could be spared prison time..."

-- Ari Melber: "Bottom line: Mueller is telling convicts they will be be spared prison time for testifying honestly, while Trump is telling witnesses not to testify at all..."


-- The talk of TV newsrooms on Tuesday: This Julianna Goldman piece about the industry's anti-mom bias. She says "TV news organizations would be well served to look inward and reevaluate the culture they've established for moms." Read it... (The Atlantic)

-- The continued impact of the Panama Papers: Four men "have been indicted for their roles in allegedly defrauding the US government through international money laundering and wire fraud..." (CNN)

-- Amid all the coverage of alleged election fraud in North Carolina, lemme second what Harry Enten tweeted: "The NC-9 story is one of many that sheds the light on the importance of local journalism..." (Twitter)

-- Hammering home that point, Chris Cillizza did a Q&A with Joe Bruno of WSOC Channel 9 in Charlotte on Tuesday... (CNN)

-- A must-read (if you have a VF subscription) by Joe Pompeo: "A generation of digital-media darlings prepares for a frigid winter." He says Vox might be in a buying mood next year... (VF)

REMEMBERING 41 — Wednesday's memorial

The memorial service for President George H.W. Bush will be live everywhere on Wednesday morning. The cable newsers will begin special coverage at 9 a.m. On broadcast, NBC will also begin at 9; CBS at 9:45; and ABC and PBS at 10. The motorcade will travel from the Capitol to the National Cathedral in the 10 a.m. hour, and the service will begin at 11. Expect several hours of uninterrupted coverage. TVNewser has details here...

Meacham will deliver one of the four eulogies

Biographer Jon Meacham had an "unusually close relationship" with his subject H.W. Bush, the NYT's Michael Tackett writes... "Another measure of that deeply personal connection — unusual for most historians and their subjects — will be on display Wednesday" when Meacham speaks at the memorial service.

There has been a spike in sales of Meacham's 2015 book, "Destiny and Power," in the days since Bush died...

Jenna and Barbara on "Today"

Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush's first interview since their grandfather's death was with NBC's Savannah Guthrie... Hager, of course, is a correspondent on the "Today" show... The interview will air on Wednesday's "Today..."

>> Jenna on her father's eulogy: "How can you tell a man as giant as our grandpa was, how much you love him? It's a tall order."

Read more of Tuesday's "Reliable Sources" newsletter... And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox...

Remembering Bush through his thank you notes

C-SPAN's Howard Mortman made a great point in this Facebook post: "OLD MEDIA HELPS NEW: So interesting to see so many personal Bush pictures and notes being shared on social media. Who knew all those analog Bush 'touches' for decades would get a second life on new, digital platforms? Shows value of both THEN & NOW ways: direct contact with humans AND social sharing."