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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

One of the greatest failings in journalism is the way that ideas, theories, nonsensical paranoid fears get 'out there' and then talked about, critiqued and so forth and yet there's no point of stepping back where a considered, knowledgable, even common sense view would say that the entire concept is simply far-fetched, ridiculous or even impossible. There are two examples of that currently roiling the political terrain, albeit for very different reasons.

The first has to do with the purported looming indictment of Hillary Clinton. Over the weekend there was a stir because a New York Times reporter, Peter Baker, told CNN's Sunday morning show that Democrats are "quietly absolutely petrified" of a mid-summer indictment. This 'hot take' was immediately picked by Mike Allen's Politico Playbook. The stage was then set for yet another DC bubble derp freakout. Are Democrats "petrified"? I think that's an overstatement. But are some nervous? I have no doubt they are. But I know people are stocking up on ammo for when ISIS mounts an operation against their house. For most people fear is generated by press coverage, often ignorant or tendentious press coverage. And with the breathless coverage of developments that more or less obviously have no legal impact whatsoever, I don't doubt that many are nervous.

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I wanted to follow up on my debate take from last night. As I said, following the debate, the Trump festival and the video out of Oregon all together made it hard for me to follow as closely as I'd have liked or take it in as coherently as I'd wish. And it seems the initial reaction from commentators is that Cruz did worse than I suggested. My general sense is that it wasn't that Cruz got attacked or that the attacks on him did any particular damage. It was that the spotlight was inherently bad for him.

Here's what I mean.

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As I noted earlier, the multiple events we were trying to cover tonight - especially what amounted to a Republican debate and a simultaneous counter-debate - prevented me from giving the kind of focus to the debate proper which I normally would. So my impressions will be more tentative than they normally are.

Let me start with the debate itself.

At the outset we had the round of questions and snarks about Donald Trump. And for the first half hour or more the debate had some of the feel of community access television. There was even some odd tone to the sound system, at least on my hearing. But mainly, I think it felt disjointed and a little odd because the major center of gravity in this battle, Donald Trump, wasn't there. You had canned, awkward jokes and a lot of off-balance tension. But the big takeaway for me was that after a half hour or so of that, they were done talking about him.

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We are currently covering the debate, the Trump speech and the breaking news out of Oregon of the FBI release of the fairly detailed video of the death of militant LaVoy Finicum. I'm hoping back and forth myself between each of the three. And I confess it's made my blogging lighter and less coherent than I'd like it to be. But we've got members of our team working each story.

* First, watch the FBI video. It's 26 minutes long. But the key events take place over about a minute starting just before 8 minutes in.

* On the Trump front, I was only able to watch live the early part. It started with this weird portion where Trump rattled through a list of his rich pals who wrote big checks for the fundraiser. And it was big money. A million a piece from a few people, including a million from Trump. It was also genuinely surreal, sort of a mix of Jerry Lewis telethon and oligarch variety hour, a view from a different world of rich real estate magnates in the tri-state area who can help out with a check for $100,000 or $1,000,000 for a friend and a good cause. It was weird. All quality people.

* The basic decency and seriousness of John Kasich is a truly discordant note in this debate.

9:12 PM: As we're watching the early moments of the GOP debate, here's some video that captures what Donald Trump has done to Jeb Bush.

9:27 PM: "I know you like to argue about the rules but we're going to have a debate." Chris Wallace gets frustrated with Ted Cruz's nonsense.

9:29 PM: Cruz gets boo'd by the crowd. (Some disagreement among the editors here about whether crowd was booing Cruz or booing in support of Cruz. What'd you think?)

9:41 PM: Once again, listening to Kasich, it's not that I necessarily agree with him. But he's really the only one up there that is acquainted with a pretty broad range of policy issues and has pretty reasonable views. That's opposed to people who either have no acquaintance with any of these topics or who are simply taking dictation from the neocons who ran things under President Bush.

10:01 PM: Jeb Bush has become a reasonably funny insult comic against himself.

We're just getting word that federal law enforcement in Oregon is holding a press conference where they are going to release a video of the shoot out in which the ringleaders of the Oregon militia stand-off were apprehended. This is presumably to clarify how militant Robert "LaVoy" Finicum died. More shortly.

And here's the video.

* So Trump starts with basically saying, he was mistreated by Fox so they needed to be punished.

* Now he's explaining how they spent the day begging him to be nice to them, show up at the debate. Says he got an apology from Fox.

* The gist of Trump's comments are: Fox apologized but it was too late. I already have my veterans event.

* "I wanted to fight for myself, just like I'll fight for the country."

So a little overview of how we're going to approach this very weird debate night. By schedule the Donald Trump counter-event is supposed to start at 8 PM. And that will be preceded by an "exclusive" interview with CNN - probably a chit for their being the first network to announce they'd cover his speech live. The Fox debate gets underway at 9 PM. But of course, it's already 8:15 PM. And the 'exclusive' interview hasn't even started yet. So there's little doubt that Trump plans to let his extravaganza roll right into and maybe right through the gutted Fox debate. We will be covering both events, simultaneously, whenever they happen.

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