Good Friday morning, and welcome to December. Exodus awareness: The White House faces "significant turnover at the one-year mark," with senior departures expected in coming weeks, per the Wall Street Journal. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson looks certain to go. Other possibilities: economic adviser Gary Cohn and Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn.
There is a very specific — and dangerous — formula for manipulating the media and hijacking the Twitter/cable/conventional media industrial complex, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei writes.
Step 1: Throw an early morning Twitter bomb, usually but not always timed to "Fox & Friends" fodder or reinforcement. The Tweet-bomb frequently hits "fake news" or some social topic with racial undertones.
Step 2: The outrage machine kicks in. The first hour of "Morning Joe" is consumed by reaction. But the real action unfolds on Twitter, with scores of journalists and activists howling in protest.Step 3: The cable beast awakens. MSNBC/CNN/Fox are basically 24/7 politics now, and the reporters who uncorked on Twitter sit alongside the hosts to dissect/condemn the Twitter bomb. They tweet the highlights. The rage builds. The cycle speeds.
Step 4: The fringes foment. Breitbart belts out a stream of stories, usually supporting Trump or mocking cable hysteria on the left. It pumps its greatest hits through Facebook, where both sides game the algorithm to play to their team's emotional response. Twitter wars usually ensue.
Step 5: Opinions fly. By nighttime, MSNBC goes hard left, Fox hard right, peaking with their highest-rated champions (Maddow on the left and Hannity on the right) tucking like-minded people in with soothing stories of why they were so right today.
Sound smart: We are all amplifying and participating in this endless sideshow. There is no easy solution, other than clinging to reality and clinically exposing Trump's make-believe. Check the facts, pay attention, but ignore the pure crap.
P.S. Must-read column ... N.Y. Times' Bret Stephens, "We're All Part of Trump's Show": "The Trump news is scarier, funnier, more salacious and more relevant than anything else on TV. ... The truth about Trump is not that he's crazy. He's a narcissist and a neurotic with a feral talent for attracting the attention he craves. ... [C]itizens can deprive Trump of his political oxygen simply by turning off and tuning out."
President Trump "is considering recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, ... a highly charged declaration that risks inflaming tensions across the Middle East but would be a way to offset a likely decision delaying his campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy there" from Tel Aviv, AP's Matt Lee writes.
An administration official tells Axios' Jonathan Swan: "The law passed in 1995 states that the Embassy should be in Jerusalem. As the President has made clear, it is a matter of when, not if."
What to watch, from Swan and Barak Ravid of Israel's Channel 10 News, an Axios contributor: If Trump declares Jerusalem the capital, it will likely cause an angry response from the Palestinians and some Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
New pressure from Dems for Al Franken to quit, per the WashPost front page: "A move by top Democrats to force out [Rep. John Conyers] showed a growing eagerness to immunize the party on an issue that is turning into a social movement."
"Harassment long tolerated in world of big business," declares USA Today's lead story:
Coming debate: "The wave of sexual allegations ... has left many U.S. colleges weighing whether to revoke honorary degrees and other accolades awarded to prominent men accused of misconduct. ... Dozens of schools have bestowed honors upon men who now face accusations." (AP)
N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... The Times front-pages a story saying playwright Israel Horovitz has been accused by nine women of sexual misconduct. Jocelyn Meinhardt, who said she was raped at 19 when she began a summer fellowship with Horovitz in 1989: "He was a good mentor, until he was the worst, probably most nightmarish mentor you could have."
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump light the 2017 National Christmas Tree, on the Ellipse.
The real danger with North Korea, according to CFR President Richard Haass, author of "A World in Disarray" (out in paperback Jan. 2), talking to Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on "Morning Joe":
"The Senate tax bill is headed for a round of marathon votes [today] with the goal of holding a final vote by the end of the work week," per Bloomberg:
"President Trump over the summer repeatedly urged senior Senate Republicans, including the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to end the panel's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election, according to a half dozen lawmakers and aides," according to N.Y. Times triple threat of Jonathan Martin, Maggie Haberman and Alex Burns:
John Heilemann, on "Morning Joe," points out how stunning it is for Burr to say this on the record.
FBI Director Christopher Wray tells the House Homeland Security Committee that the FBI has a "foreign influence task force" to deal with election interference by outside actors, per TPM's Tierney Sneed:
David Ignatius column: "Mike Pompeo, the feisty and politically ambitious CIA director who is likely headed to State, is the un-Tillerson. He's flamboyant where Tillerson is guarded, sharp and sometimes snarky where Tillerson is reticent."
"Dow rockets past 24,000, building on incredible post-election surge" — CNN's Matt Egan:
"A pointless conflict ... How — and why — to end the war in Yemen," between a Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis, a Shia militia backed by Iran— The Economist's cover editorial:
"The host of ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" got into a Twitter spat with ... Alabama Republican [Roy Moore] over a stunt that Kimmel's show had orchestrated on Wednesday at a Moore event," per CNN's Frank Pallotta: