Networks Hope for ‘Gary Cooper’ in Mueller Report 'Movie!'

All three networks on Wednesday previewed Robert Mueller’s “historic” testimony before Congress with an excited and nervous tone, wondering if this “movie” version of his report could save the impeachment hype. Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos wistfully hoped that Mueller might turn out to be like famous High Noon star Gary Cooper. 

CBS journalist Major Garrett began the film comparisons by touting Democratic talking points: “The Democrats have a theory, Gayle, which is ‘No one read the book, maybe they’ll watch the movie.’ Which is today. This is the movie.” Using remarkably similar language, ABC’s Cecilia Vega combined the movie comparison with a book on tape: “One analogy I read yesterday that said people aren't reading the book but they will watch the movie. They will listen to this book on tape.” 

ABC’s Stephanopoulos even tried to cast the Mueller Report movie with a star from the silver age: “So much of this then is in Mueller's hands.... If you talk about a movie does he choose to be Gary Cooper or does he choose to kind of continue to kind of be as indistinct as he was in the report?” 

 

 

Panelist Terry Moran shot that down, saying, “He does not want to be in your movie.” Over on NBC, political director Chuck Todd intoned that this supposed film had better not be boring. Speaking for the Democrats, he insisted, “They want him to narrate a story. And in some ways, that’s what they would like him to do. ‘Narrate. Give us the audio version of your book. But tell us a story. Don’t bore us.’”

Despite the risk of the hearings backfiring for Democrats, the term “historic” was repeatedly thrown around. NBC’s Kasie Hunt previewed, “An incredibly historic day, two years in the making Savannah. We are going see Robert Mueller in a few short minutes here sit down with the House Judiciary Committee.”  

Regarding the large crowds, ABC’s Vega repeated that word twice: 

That's how intensely they've been prepping for what will be a historic moment. I want to give you a sense. The mood as well. There are swarms of press and a massive line of the public that want to witness this historic moment, George. 

Getting back to the movie theme, NBC’s Todd conceded this film may have a sad or inconclusive ending for Democrats: 

How does today not simply be an epilogue? Right? This feels like, in some way, the Mueller Report, it was out and now we are going to hear it verbalized and then they’re going to put it in a package put it over here and and focus on the presidential campaign. There is a part of me wonders is that what today is going to feel like three months from now? And the question is how do Democrats not allow today to just simply be an epilogue?

Apparently CBS’s Norah O’Donnell didn’t get this memo. Her network hyped the hearings as “high stakes” and “history.” 

Partial transcripts are below: 

CBS This Morning
7/24/19
7:10:44AM ET  

GAYLE KING: I have a question for you both. Because most people in this country have not even read the Mueller Report. Yet 58 percent of the people who were polled say they’re actually sick of it. They don’t want to hear anything more about it. So what do you guys think can be accomplished today, realistically, with these congressional hearings? 

MAJOR GARRETT: Well the Democrats have a theory Gayle, which is “no one read the book, maybe they’ll watch the movie.” Which is today. This is the movie. Well my sense of it is, if it’s a movie Robert Mueller is not going to be a matinee idol. He is going to be someone who is going to refer to the report dryly, repetitively. Yes/No. And try not to dramatize the underlying body of evidence. He’s made it clear. “This is the evidence we found, it’s your decision what to do about it.” And that’s a political call, as much as a legal one.

JAN CRAWFORD: Yeah I mean, he’s done this a lot. He’s an experienced former prosecutor, head of the FBI. He’s coming up there as a reluctant witness. He said he is not going to go out of the – you know – kind of boundaries of that report. So we’re expecting fireworks, but we may not get a lot. 

NBC Live coverage
7/24/19
8:31

TODD: They want him to narrate a story. And in some ways, that’s what they would like him to do. Narrate, give us the audio version of your book. But tell us a story. Don’t bore us. 

ABC Mueller coverage
7/24/19

8:21

VEGA: That's how intensely they've been prepping for what will be a historic moment. I want to give you a sense. The mood as well. There are swarms of press and a massive line of the public that want to witness this historic moment, George. 


8:25 AM ET

CECILIA VEGA: One analogy I read yesterday that said people aren't reading the book but they will watch the movie. They will listen to this book on tape. They will watch this today and the Democrats are hoping that they can shape some mind, that they can change some minds on this. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Terry Moran, I mean, so much of this then is in Mueller's hands. Does he choose to —  if you talk about a movie does he choose to be Gary Cooper or does he choose to kind of continue to kind of be as indistinct as he was in the report?

TERRY MORAN:  B. He does not want to be in your movie. This is not where he wants to be right now and I think one of the things he does want to do is reassure the American people that this investigation was conducted with integrity and by the book. That's where you'll see him get emotional if at all when his integrity or the integrity of his staff is attacked. As for people finally coming to the substance of this through the audio book, as you say, the problem with the whole hearing is most people have made up their minds. And we live in what you might call an era of partisan epistemology. In other words, what counts as a fact depends on what team you are on. 

...

NBC
7/24/19
8:17 AM ET 

KASIE HUNT: An incredibly historic day, two years in the making Savannah. We are going see Robert Mueller in a few short minutes here sit down with the House Judiciary Committee. That's going to begin at 8:30.

...

HUNT: Again, Savannah, the political question, the stakes could not be higher here. This is really a critical test for Democrats who are looking to impeach this president, this may be their final moment to lay out for the American public why this is something that should be on the table. Savannah. 

CHUCK TODD: How does today not simply be an epilogue? Right? This feels like, in some way, the Mueller Report, it was out and now we are going to hear it verbalized and then they’re going to put it in a package put it over here and and focus on the presidential campaign. There is a part of me wonders is that what today is going to feel like three months from now? And the question is how do Democrats not allow today to just simply be an epilogue? I think that's the challenge because I think today underscores just how much the House Democrats have struggled to do accountability on this White House. A lot of this is because the White House is stone walled and prevented and blocks subpoenas 
or not abided by them. They have not had any sort of big moment where they feel oh, this is why Democrats are in charge of Congress and this is the accountability you promise to bring. This is their biggest moment yet presenting accountability on this President. If they don't deliver, it could become a political divide inside the Democratic Party. 

LESTER HOLT: Let me turn to Andrea. Is this an opportunity for Democrats to regain the narrative. If you think back four months ago, William Barr, puts up that brief summary, I think it came on a Saturday evening and that tone has not changed of what he said in that brief summary. 

MITCHELL: Actually William Barr in that moment is exactly right. He created the narrative and Donald Trump through social media, through his media feed branded this, witch hunt, all of the rest of this. And that has been the narrative that has really dominated all the conversation politically. This may well be Democrats' last chance.

...

CBS Live coverage
7:24
8:17

NORAH O’DONNELL: This is a CBS news special report. High stakes and history. Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill. And, look, the sun is up over the capitol. And it could get pretty hot today under the dome. We are live in Washington. Good morning. I'm Norah O’Donnell, alongside Major Garret here. It is a Robert Mueller doubleheader. 

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