I watched CNN‘s coverage of the President Donald Trump-Baby Kim summit, following which they signed a document wherein they agreed on four steps to carry out on the path forward, including Baby Kim’s commitment to denuclearize “the Korean Peninsula.” That last, especially, is a Big Deal, albeit hard details like on what schedule and what Baby Kim wants in return are yet to be discussed and agreed.
Still, you’d think that would be news worth covering, worth reporting and commenting on. So what did CNN devote its Tuesday morning programming to? Their morning Star Anchor interviewed two ex-Federal employees, asking them about taping back together “White House” torn-up documents. The anchor kept referring to the documents as “destroyed official documents” as she sat at her desk, leaning into the camera with her mouth hanging open in faux shock (or, as my mother used to say, drawing flies). The interviewees kept holding up the pieces of paper they’d brought with them to illustrate the kinds of documents they’d been told to tape together and the degree of “destruction” the tearing up represented.
Now, I came on the interview in mid-stream, so I don’t know the basis of the anchor’s characterization of the documents as “official” or as “destroyed.” It wasn’t clear to me throughout the remainder of the interview that these terminated employees weren’t expressing their disgruntlement over having been terminated. It wasn’t clear to me how these two interviewees came to have—after their termination—official documents still in their possession, or even whether what they had were documents. They did clearly represent the size of the torn pieces to be representative of their reassembly task. What also was clear was that those representative pieces of paper weren’t “torn-up,” official or otherwise. They were documents that had been torn in quarters or eighths. Thus, they could have been notes torn up to signify “done with these,” as many of us do, or they were “official” and torn in rejection, as the tearer (Trump? one of his senior staffers?) told the individual who handed them to him said, “This is trash; do it over. Bring me what I asked for.”
But what’s important about CNN‘s interview is this: the just concluded summit wasn’t important enough to cover, but taping pieces of paper together was.