Sure, we were all stunned by the news Monday afternoon that Barry Trotz was resigning as coach of the Washington Capitals. But not all of us had our immediate, shocked reactions shown on national TV — during an otherwise very sober Senate hearing, no less.
Such was the case for Kelly Cohen, a reporter for the Washington Examiner who was on Capitol Hill to cover a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Department of Justice inspector general’s report on the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. As shown on various news networks, Cohen was positioned behind the IG, Michael E. Horowitz, and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, while they fielded questions.
The two officials were having an exchange with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) about the report’s lack of a “conclusion, one way or the other, about the question of collusion with Russians,” when Cohen received word on Trotz. Noticeable not just for where she was seated but for her white summer dress amid a sea of suits, Cohen’s wordless expressions of disbelief quickly overshadowed, for some viewers, Leahy’s invocation of Watergate.
“I don’t know why my reaction was so dramatic,” Cohen said with a chuckle, one of many she would offer while discussing the unexpected moment that quickly went viral.
Cohen said she was “literally in the middle of writing a story” about the Senate inquiry, which was relatively short on “bombshells” and thus had her in a more relaxed state than she would have been if the hearing had featured more “fireworks.” In fact, Cohen had already fielded texts from friends about how she “looked so happy and smiley” on TV when she learned of Trotz’s departure.
When a friend first texted her with the news, Cohen said, she thought, “No way,” but when she saw statements from the ex-coach and the team on her laptop, she thought, “Oh, wow, holy crap, it’s true.”
“Obviously you can’t really talk out loud, because the director of the FBI is probably speaking, and top senators are speaking,” Cohen said. “So that’s why I had to have that little silent meltdown, which obviously now is not that silent.”
A 27-year-old whose “day job” is covering the Justice Department and intelligence topics for the Examiner, Cohen has also written about the Wizards for Bullets Forever, an SB Nation blog, and she helps cover local teams for NBC Sports Washington. As a native of Miami who moved to D.C. in 2013, she is not a fan of the Caps, per se, but she has been following the team closely and was enthralled by its run to the Stanley Cup, all the more so because she wasn’t in her home town when the Heat won a pair of NBA titles and she hadn’t had any recent experiences of living in a city where a team won a major sports championship.
“It’s just wild to me that he’s leaving,” Cohen said of Trotz. “If the hearing was a little more bombshell, I wouldn’t have cared so much in that moment, but because it was kind of slow-moving . . . and it was just such a curve for him to go, I really didn’t see that.”
“It’s really interesting that he wins the Stanley Cup, the first championship for a Washington team in how many years, and he’s gone? That’s crazy to me,” she added. “You have to appease the person who led your team to that title.”
By the point in the hearing when she received her jolt, Cohen thought that network coverage might have shifted elsewhere, given the relative lack of major news, but no such luck. “I knew that I’d had a silent meltdown,” she said, “and then I think one of my friends texted me, like, ‘We just saw you [looking] so shocked on TV, what were you freaking out about?’ ”
Among the people who had been texting Cohen about her visibility during the hearing was her mother, whose lack of familiarity with social media spared her the experience of seeing her daughter go viral. “Thank God my mom doesn’t really understand Twitter or Instagram — she’d be mortified,” she said.
“I think she was just talking about seeing me sitting there, and making sure I wasn’t acting like a fool,” Cohen laughingly said of her mother, “but apparently I did.”
Read more from The Post: