Comey firing reveals that Sergei Lavrov has savage deadpan

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson takes a look at one beautiful SOB.

Maybe you heard about this, but President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last night. I thought Comey had been fired to spend more time with his family, and Trump let him go as a reward for completing such a thorough investigation of any connections between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. But apparently that investigation is ongoing, even though the president just fired the man in charge of it. Why he would do something that looks so bad at first glance—and at subsequent glances leading up to prolonged eye contact, until you’re just staring into the terrible optics of this thing and flicking your tongue a little—is unclear. It took everyone by surprise. But then along comes Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov:

Asked if Comey’s firing would cast a pall over his talks with Rex Tillerson, Lavrov responds, “Was he fired?” In this moment, his whole demeanor changes. He spent the last few seconds with downcast eyes, but now he draws himself up and looks straight at the reporter. “Was he fired?” he asks again. “You’re kidding!” Then he..scoffs? Rolls his eyes? Whatever it is, it’s an expression of knowing disdain any middle-school girl would be proud of, and he delivers it without mercy.

Why do I feel like a lot of Russians are good at the kind of joke where you pretend not to know something and then make the other person feel stupid for telling you about it? Russophobia, probably. But whether he has mastered a national pastime or just a useful technique of boss humor, Lavrov really sells it here. The first time I watched this footage, I thought he genuinely didn’t know.

That’s part of what makes this such a great response. Lots of people didn’t know Comey had been fired. According to the Times, Comey himself was delivering a speech in Los Angeles when the news appeared on video screens behind him. By convincingly acting like he, too, was shocked by the news and then showing that he played us, Lavrov sends a message: “Of course I knew.” Our stunning news is old hat to him. It’s an attitude that lets him neatly avoid the question, which was not “did you know Comey got fired” but “will Comey’s firing cast a shadow on these talks?”

“When will the Leningrad Soviet distribute heating oil for the winter?” the people demand. “Is it cold?”  young Precinct Director Lavrov responds. “Is it cold? You’re kidding?” He rolls his eyes and gets into his limo, which takes him to the airport for his flight to Sochi or wherever. Damned Russians—always one step ahead.

Struggling Lee Enterprises saves company with purchase of Indy

Lee Enterprises headquarters

As you may remember from late last week, scrappy media conglomerate Lee Enterprises has purchased the Missoula Independent, saving Lee from bankruptcy. Lee was already in bankruptcy back in 2011, because it spent $1.5 billion to buy Pulitzer, Inc. in 2005—a dark horse candidate for deal of the year, since News Corp. paid a mere $580 million for Myspace. Anywhom, Lee went broke buying newspapers. Now, like a fun and informative vampire, it must keep buying more newspapers to stay alive. But its waking nightmare of debt-service undeath is finally over, because it bought my newspaper.

The immense profits that the Indy generates will wipe out Lee’s debts in no time. After a few months of alt-weekly income, the Missoulian can stop writing rapturous features about Cabela’s, and the Beatrice, Nebraska Daily Sun can settle with the families of those kids from last year’s Thresher Days. We’ll all be rich—rich as newsmen!

By we, though, I mean everyone but me. Even a corporation as showered in gold as Lee Enterprises cannot justify my exorbitant fee. And don’t ask me to take a pay cut out of consideration for a mom-and-pop paper chain. My lifestyle simply could not bear it. Although nothing is certain now, I fear my days of making money hand-over-fist-over-emerald-strewn-coke-mirror might be headed to a halt. For all I know, this could be my last column. I excerpt here for posterity:

I know that when I got into this business, it was strictly for the cash. But over the last few years, I have developed an affection for you, the seemingly useless reader. Although writing this column provides me with enough money and drugs to deaden my connection to ordinary people, I cannot help but feel that we are in this together. We live in the same region, after all. Might it be too much to say that we belong to the same community?

I was too temperate to say so in print, but I’ll say it here: we do belong to the same community. That community belongs to Lee Enterprises now. May their two Missoula newspapers, the Missoulian and the Independent, remains as keen and incisive as the heads on a two-headed snake, and may that snake poop money for the rest of our wonderful lives.

Snoop shoots “clown resembling Donald Trump,” unleashes anarchy

Wednesday

In the annals of FoxNews.com headlines, “Snoop Dogg shoots clown resembling Donald Trump in new music video” is a low-key classic. You don’t hear about a lot of clowns that resemble Mahatma Gandhi, or clowns resembling the brave men and women who died in 9/11. And “resembling” is such a pleasingly circumspect word, in contrast with the absurdity of everything else in this headline. Now is a fun time to remember that Fox News shares a parent company with The New York Post, who seem not to have reported on this event but would probably have done it differently. Anyway, I want to emphasize that Snoop Dogg shot a clown resembling Donald Trump in a music video, not in real life. That makes it a symbolic act—a message, probably. This theory is supported by S.D. Dogg’s remarks to Billboard:

I feel like it’s a lot of people making cool records, having fun, partying, but nobody’s dealing with the real issue with this fucking clown as president and the shit that we dealing with out here. So I wanted to take time out to push pause on a party record and make one of these records for the time being.

Notice how he assures us he’s working on a party record, too. Snoop has been doing this for a long time. Also, he sucks now. Or does he? This clown video is actually pretty…okay, I’m not willing to say it’s good. But I’m glad I watched it. Video after the jump.

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Missoulian ends online comments, hopefully forever

The Missoulian offices as photographed by Cathrine Walters

The Missoulian newspaper website has disabled comments, depriving western Montana of its most reliable way to experience pure despair. Comments sections are bad. But the Missoulian comments were especially bad, combining the subliterate hatred of YouTube comments with the gravity of current events. And it always seemed to be getting worse. The paper turned off comments on obituaries a few years ago, after one became a public referendum on the character of the deceased, the circumstances of his death, and whether he had it coming. Last week, I am told, commenters on a crime story revealed the identity of a victim of sexual assault. That’s what prompted this editorial from Kathy Best, in which the new editor announces that comments on Facebook and Twitter will continue, but website comments are done indefinitely. I applaud this decision. It’s been a long time coming.

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Man who has never done this before knows better than everybody

The working man

Now that the White House has ejected the Times from its press conferences, I must turn to New York’s second best newspaper for coverage of our confident and dynamic president. What will that serial monogamer get up to next? It turns out he’s going to keep spreading factual inaccuracies on Twitter, but it all seems more fun and crazy now, because switching from the Times to the Post is like scoring a movie with the Benny Hill Theme instead of Clair de Lune. Here’s the President of the United States:

So this may shock you, but President Trump’s claim is factually inaccurate. Although the New York Times did recently release a prominent new advertisement, it’s not the first time. Anyone who watched Comedy Central in the nineties remembers this commercial:

I forgot how much I hated that guy with the suspenders, but as soon as I saw him it all came rushing back. He’s a Chris Parnell character 20 years too soon. Anyway, the Times advertises pretty often, and President Trump seems to be speaking without regard for the truth. His main point is that the Times is bad, due to a shortage of fairness and accuracy.

That is, of course, the slogan of another news organization. “Reebok sucks,” he might have tweeted. “Try just doing it!” Such command of the language might send the delicate hands of New York Times readers clutching toward their pearls, but in the Post it reads pretty sweet:

The president also singled out the the [New York Times] in a tweet about fake news on Friday, saying “FAKE NEWS media knowingly doesn’t tell the truth. A great danger to our country. The failing @nytimes has become a joke. Likewise @CNN. Sad!,” he said.

His tweet came hours after Trump addressed a conservative conference where he wailed on the media about reporting fake news and the use of unnamed sources in stories.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the Post is the newspaper for people who hate newspapers. I, for one, am heartened to read that the president has been wailing on the media, and it gives me hope that he might bring back jobs and convince chicks to loosen up. Anyway, I gotta go. I spent all day making money instead of writing Combat! blog, which I give away for free. Reader, it is worth every penny.