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PRESENTING YOUR 2017 TURKEY BOWL WINNERS
America has much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving: Peace, prosperity and what Abraham Lincoln called the “inestimable blessings” of “the Great Disposer of Events.”
But if you really want to talk about inestimable blessings this year, just ask a political journalist. Hoo, boy…
In a profession where we are accustomed to scrounging for news, especially in electoral off years, we are operating in a time of unparalleled abundance with scandals, leaks, partisan fratricide, shutdown threats and on and on and on.
The Time of Covfefe may not be very good for the republic, but it is most certainly fascinating to cover. When we think back to days in Novembers past spent trying to scrape together stories on legislative markups and midterm look-aheads, we are truly grateful for the abundance, even at the occasional risk to our sanity and our appetites.
It is in the spirit of this horn of plenty of astonishing stories that we offer this year’s edition of the Halftime Report Turkey Bowl, recognizing the individuals and organizations that have found ways, even in these imbecilic times, to stand out for their lapses.
To our winners, we say thank you for making it easy. To our readers, we offer our apologies in advance.
WORST BOOK TOUR: HILLARY CLINTON (REPEAT WINNER)
The 2016 Democratic nominee has had a rough decade, professionally speaking. And one would have thought that losing a second presidential campaign to a candidate even more unlikely than the first one might have been enough to cure Hillary Clinton of politics for good. But, alas...
Determined to reshape a fast-hardening narrative about her campaign (incompetent, overpriced and disconnected) and herself (scandal-soaked and entitled), Clinton has been grinding it out on the book circuit for months like someone whose family didn’t profit to the tune of more than $100 million in the 16 years since they left the White House.
But a defeated presidential candidate looking to re-write history isn’t a brand new idea. What makes Clinton’s book tour stand out are mostly events beyond her control.
Clinton could not have known that just about the time she was warming up for her book signings and radio interviews that her longtime friend and benefactor, Harvey Weinstein, was about to be immolated in a napalm bath of sexual misconduct accusations.
That could have been icky, but what made it a debacle was the fact that the Weinstein allegations kicked off a whole new round of accusations and, ultimately, a reconsideration of her husband’s own misconduct. Democrats who had once tolerated or ignored her husband’s alleged mistreatment of women moved unambiguously toward blame and denunciation. And all the while, Clinton was on camera.
She hit the road hoping to cover her offenses as a candidate. She will come home with her and her husband’s roles in opening the way for the Roy Moores of the world an accepted part of political conventional wisdom.
WORST SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT: SENATOR CRUZ ‘LIKES’
Back in September, a late-night “like” from Sen. Ted Cruz’s account appeared for a tweet containing fetish porn. Cruz later pointed a finger at a member of his staff for the unfortunate like, but didn’t throw the Twitter lurker under the bus. Cruz also tried to be a good sport, saying that they should have “done something like this during the Indiana primary.” But, to be fair, Cruz also had a pretty epic win back in January. After Politico ran a piece that mentioned that the senator played basketball on a weekly basis, the sports website Deadspin called him out wanting proof. In turn, Cruz tweeted a photo of his younger doppelganger, Duke guard Grayson Allen writing with it, “What do I win?” The Twitterverse erupted in praise for Cruz, claiming him the winner of this small yet mighty Twitter war. Deadspin didn’t take the loss lightly, responding back with a simple, “Go eat s–t.”
WORST LAUNDRY BILL: STEVE BANNON
Fashion forward or a fashion faux pas? President Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon likes to layer. Why does a man leading a populist revolt want to dress like a villain from a John Hughes movie? There’s no clear answer. Some say he picked up the trend from his time at military prep school and others say he calls it “beach fashion.” His spokesperson made it very clear, however, that it’s never just one and rarely just two shirts. Three is Bannon’s lucky number... truly a “layering extremist.” He always has extra shirts on hand, specifically at Breitbart’s headquarters.
WORST OUTERWEAR DEPLOYMENT: GEORGE W. BUSH
The 43rd president of the United States stole the show of the inauguration with and his costar: his rain poncho. Former president George W. Bush struggled with the plastic sheet for several minutes until he ultimately gave up and simply wrapped it around his head. But, he wasn’t the only one to struggle with his rain poncho. Looking closer at photos from the event one will notice that his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, also seemed confused by the rain protector. Maybe it’s a genetic thing? The takeaway: 43 should stay away from ponchos. Vanity Fair noted that this isn’t the first time the former president struggled with this article of clothing. In 2009, while in Lima, he was caught on camera having similar struggles while sporting a traditional Peruvian poncho.
WORST RELOCATION: JAVANKA
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump made it no secret that they were house hunting in the nation’s capital after Election Day. They were poised to become a power couple par excellence and take Washington by storm. Instead, missteps and scandals have, ten months after inauguration, left the couple labeled as the “exiles on Pennsylvania Ave.” Kushner has reportedly told friends that he and his wife debate going back to New York every few months.
WORST ASTRONOMICAL TOURISM: STEVEN MNUCHIN
Many Americans traveled from their homes to be able to watch the historic moment of this summer’s eclipse at its peak. But how about Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton? Reports show the couple flew to Kentucky on a government plane that day, ostensibly to visit Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who just happens to live right along the path of the totality of the eclipse. Mnuchin claimed he had no interest in the eclipse because he’s a New Yorker. According to Politico he said, “You know, people in Kentucky took this stuff very serious,” followed by, “Being a New Yorker... I was like, the eclipse? Really? I don’t have any interest in watching the eclipse.” Despite his expressed Northeastern blasé, though, the picture told the tale.
Further compounding the error: The secretary’s wife posted a photo of herself on Instagram, including hashtags of all of the expensive articles of clothing she was sporting on their day trip to Kentucky. Unable to take the heat from an Instagram user’s comment, Ms. Linton lost her cool and replied with a condescending remark, belittling the user. Linton got a big thumbs down from everyone else for that one.
But the real loser of the Mnuchin-Linton eclipse outing: Former Health Secretary Tom Price. The hubbub over the Treasury trip got reporters checking on cabinet members’ private jet usage and Price turned out to be a serial offender. After that, the doctor was out.
WORST BEACH DAY: CHRIS CHRISTIE
Let’s go to the beach… oh wait. New Jersians couldn’t because Gov. Chris Christie shut it down. Amid the state government shutdown, Christie was able to catch some rays at the Island Beach State Park over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Christie was asked about a rumored outing and scoffed at the notion. “I didn't get any sun today.” Ruh-roh. He got busted in the act when aerial photos revealed Christie, his wife and other family members lounging on the beach. Christie’s defense: “He did not get any sun. He had a baseball hat on,” said communications director Brian Murray.
WORST HAPPY HOUR: HOUSE REPUBLICANS
Back in May, Vice President Mike Pence called it the “beginning of the end of ObamaCare.” And Republicans were ready to party like it was officially repealed. Cases of beer were rolled through the halls of the capitol building heading toward a GOP conference meeting. Later that day in the White House Rose Garden, President Trump beamed with pride, soaking in what he deemed as his accomplishment. Yet here we are six months later...
WORST LEAKER: ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI
It’s funny how much of a difference the three simple words “off the record” make. What a ten days Anthony Scaramucci had working in the White House. The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza recorded a phone call he had with the then-White House communications director. Initiating the call, Mooch went on to dish to Lizza about White House leakers, telling him he wasn’t afraid to “eliminate everyone in the comms team and [we’ll] start over.” He particularly aimed blame at then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. He also said that Trump adviser Steve Bannon engaged in a physiological impossibility… But what he never said to Lizza was those three magic words, so Lizza did what any good journalist would do and he wrote an article. What has the Mooch been up to since his White House ten day tenure? He’s keeping busy showing off his vocal cords.
[Ed. note: You may remember newspapers. As my son explained to his little brother, “It’s like they printed out the Internet so you can read it.” I got my start writing nighttime sports for my hometown paper when I was 17. I was a goner from the first. Part of what I loved about newspapering was the continuity – the musty old files of clips that reached back generations, making a record of who we were and how we became what we are. “Older than the state itself,” read the banner at the top of Page One. My favorite Thanksgiving newspaper tradition has for decades been that paper’s annual republishing of the same perfect column about the holiday by the late Adam Kelly, known to his readers as “the country editor.” I was privileged to have his son, Bob, a great newsman himself, as my mentor when I later learned my way around politics in Charleston, W.Va. They talk about Washington being a swamp. But trust me, if you can wrestle the political gators on the Kanawha River, you can cover politics anywhere in the world. Bob, who was taken from us far too young, taught a generation of newspapermen and newspaperwomen how to take our jobs seriously without taking ourselves seriously – to be skeptics without becoming cynics. It’s no mean feat when the world entices you always to see the story in first person rather than keeping the proper sense of first doing your duty to your country and your readers. The key to that, I’ve learned through hard-bought wisdom, is to begin with gratitude. If I count the blessings in my life, I can start to see how much more I have than I deserve. Understanding that makes us kinder, more gracious and, most importantly, less selfish. Bob’s father’s column, offered here by another newspaper, is properly called a litany, which is a kind of prayer where congregants respond to the preacher in the pulpit. The word “litany” descends from Greek, where its root “litaneia” means “entreaty.” My entreaty to you is that you read Adam Kelly’s good, old words and meditate on your blessings. I know I don’t enjoy today every blessing its author did; nor do you, probably. But we can all claim many of them as Americans. And if we could really all count our blessings, one suspects that we would be a people more inclined to mercy, more given to self-sacrifice and more committed to building up than tearing down. Fox News Halftime Report is pausing for the holiday and will resume publication Monday. In the meantime, I wish you and your families bounty and blessings, but most of all, the gift of gratitude, especially in the face of adversity.]
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland [for whom we are enormously grateful, even if she is a Red Sox fan] contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.