Anyone, who turned on cable news TV at any time on Monday, couldn’t help but see a defiant Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide, ranting and raving about his refusal to appear before a grand jury to testify pursuant to a subpoena. Nunberg, appearing possibly inebriated or at least smelling of alcohol according to CNN’s Erin Burnett, speculated about Trump, Roger Stone and other parties involved in the Russian-Trump investigation. Whenever did speculation become breaking news? I wonder who on the major cable news outlets thought Nunberg’s hours long coverage was appropriate.
As I watched Nunberg, I wondered what the world must now think of the U.S. While we do have very good reason to be concerned about an Russian involvement or interference in our election, we do not have a good reason to air every possible aspect as breaking news. And Nunberg appears in the category of non-breaking news given the non-substance of his interview.
I do think there are journalists that would not have interviewed Nunberg to the point of sickening to watch on air. MSNBC Joy Reid recently interviewed Stephanie Hamill, an adviser for the National Diversity Coalition for Trump, who spouted conspiracy theories when asked to answer a question. Akin to what should have happened with Nunberg’s speculation on Trump affairs, Reid cut off Hamill’s responses, saying she does not harbor conspiracy theories on her show. I think it would have been appropriate for one of the news outlets to have proceeded to commercial and return without Nunberg. Perhaps, Joy Reid was needed to interview Nunberg to cut short his breaking-non-breaking news segment.
On Friday, we will learn if Sam Nunberg, former Trump aide, will appear before the grand jury pursuant to the subpoena issued to him to produce documents and testify in the Russian-Trump investigation. He later changed his tone indicating that he will comply. Whatever he decides to do, I hope the cable news networks do not waste another entire day to interviewing and discussing him as breaking news.
Nunberg’s grand jury attendance or non-attendance is not breaking news worthy of the news time spent on it on Monday. If he doesn’t appear, as a former proseuctor, I know that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller will file a motion to compel him to testify and bring the requested documents. If a contempt order is entered against Nunberg, he must comply with the subpoena or face jail time.
There are so many stories that were news worthy on Monday and will be news worthy on Friday, in lieu of Nunberg; Gun control debate and laws, immigration and ending of DACA, upcoming special elections and ensuring our 2018 and 2020 elections are secured, Flint, Michigan water contamination are just a few. Former first lady Michelle Obama once said that when they go low, we go high. Monday’s coverage of Nunberg was a new low for cable TV news. I just hope the cable news outlets do not rinse and repeat similar coverage of Nunberg all day on Friday.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former prosecutor.