Trump video fallout drama owning the airwaves
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At the Masters, they call Saturdays "Moving Day."

And that's where we are on the presidential political front today. Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump mocks Murkowski, Cheney election chances Race debate grips Congress US reentry to Paris agreement adds momentum to cities' sustainability efforts MORE finds himself in a repulsive rhetorical situation, thanks to a leaked tape during a taping with Billy Bush, then of Access Hollywood (NBC Universal). Even he won't be able to escape or brush it off simply as political correctness run amok. And he’s faced with two choices:

  • Moving on out of the race, as some Republicans are calling for, for his "grab them by the (women's genitalia)" comment that makes Mitt Romney's caught-on-tape "47 percent" comment leaked merely sound like a sneeze.

  • Defend the indefensible Sunday night at the second presidential debate in St. Louis in front of 80-90 million people watching at home.

Throughout Friday night, calls for Trump to step down came in fast and furious on cable news and social media.

Rep. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeBiden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Hillicon Valley: Biden nominates former NSA deputy director to serve as cyber czar | Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after all | Biden pressed on semiconductor production amid shortage Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after pushback from Klobuchar, Lee MORE (R- Utah) even did so on Facebook Live, a first for any politician making that kind of demand. By doing so, Lee got his message out without taking questions.

GOP Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzCongress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent Fox News Audio expands stable of podcasts by adding five new shows The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE, also of Utah and never one to be shy with the press, actually announced his withdrawal of support for Trump on a local Salt Lake City affiliate (Fox-13) before calling into CNN to do so nationally in an interview with Don Lemon.

Will a major player like Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Money: Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC | Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week | Top Republican on House tax panel to retire Trump faces test of power with early endorsements Lobbying world MORE (who said he was "sickened" by the video) or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Memo: Biden puts 9/11 era in rear view Anti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle Greitens Senate bid creates headache for GOP MORE follow Lee in asking Trump to drop out? How about RNC chair Reince Priebus?

If so, count on those declarations to not be done the old-fashioned way of a press conference, but rather via another taped video or more likely, a simple tweet. It's that easy (and pain-free) when it comes to messaging in 2016.

On Friday's "CNN Tonight" with the aforementioned Don Lemon, Republican Ana Navarro, a Jeb Bush supporter, said Trump was not only unfit to be president, but even "unfit to be a man." Navarro also repeatedly used the “p-word” on the air in quoting Trump during a heated panel segment, another first in cable news history from a what's-allowed-to-be-said perspective. 

On Fox News and "The O'Reilly Factor", Geraldo Rivera called the comments "obscene" and pronounced Trump's campaign "on life support."

On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow pushed her own company in NBC to release tapes of Trump allegedly disparaging women on "The Apprentice."

In a related story, it can be argued that a Bush (OK, NBC's Billy Bush, who is likely updating his LinkedIn page as you read this for his cheerleader role in the Trump conversation) finally took down a Trump.

As for not facing the press, the same strategy was carried out by Trump himself, who taped a defiant apology at Trump Tower that took responsibility for the remarks before pivoting to a comparison to Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonA leadership menagerie of metaphorical scapegoats How Democrats can defy the odds in 2022 Biden is thinking about building that wall — and that's a good thing MORE's alleged actions regarding his mistreatment of women years ago.

Of course, Trump's words were obviously written for him and therefore devoid of his usual authenticity in the process, because it's fairly easy to tell the difference between spontaneous Trump and TelePrompTer Trump.

Still, by taping the video, Trump didn't need to take questions. He will have to at some point, however, likely starting Sunday night from an audience and two moderators (ABC's Martha Raddatz and CNN's Anderson Cooper) in St. Louis.

In yet another related story, it's been well over 100 days since Trump held a press conference, a criticism once reserved for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhy does Bernie Sanders want to quash Elon Musk's dreams? Republican legislators target private sector election grants How Democrats can defy the odds in 2022 MORE.

In assessing this situation, one has to wonder this: Just how long was the Trump "grab them by the ‘p’" tape in the hands of someone looking to destroy Trump? It is 11 years old, after all. Only someone at NBC/Access Hollywood would have access to it.

Considering the timing, it's hard to believe that someone had a sudden epiphany that the audio existed just days before a crucial debate and 32 days until the election when it published by the Washington Post. Just like it's also hard to believe Donald Trump's 1995 tax documents were suddenly found in a New York Times reporter's mailbox just days before the Vice Presidential debate last week. 

October surprises may be surprising to the public, but rarely is damaging information that happens to be discovered in the same month. Discovery of opposition material and release of information through the media are two very different things.

Today will be arguably the most compelling Saturday politically in the history of political Saturdays — on cable news and social media. What would normally be a quiet day of travel for many media members heading to St. Louis for the debate will instead be filled with reporting, commentary and analysis all day and evening.

If Friday night is any indication, the pressure on Trump to drop out will undoubtedly be raised to an 11 (on a scale of 1 to 10).

Those hired this year by CNN to defend Trump in an effort to create balance (Corey Lewandowski, Kayleigh McEnany, Jeffrey Lord, Scottie Nell Hughes) should all ask for a raise before going in today. Because attempting to defend or even deflect Trump's grabbing comments will be the toughest job in the world. 

Moving day, Saturday, is here. 

It may prove to be the most riveting, drama-filled day in the history of 21st Century media.

Popcorn is popped. And those covering this story just got another weekend completely devoid of sleep. 

Concha is a media reporter for The Hill


 

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