This post has been updated.

In an email to journalists Tuesday, Paul Ryan’s press secretary AshLee Strong tried to make one thing clear: “You should know that Thursday’s Ryan-Trump meeting is not the most important thing happening in D.C. this week.”

Clearly, the media disagree.

The scene outside Republican National Committee headquarters, shown live on cable news for the last couple of hours, resembled what viewers are accustomed to seeing at a high-profile jury trial, with demonstrators hoisting signs and throngs of reporters waiting for the principals to emerge bearing news. You could be forgiven for thinking the pope had returned to town.

The 360 scene on the back side of the RNC, where protesters have moved during Trump's mtg w/ Hse GOP leaders - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

My favorite graphic of the morning appeared on MSNBC: “Breaking news: Trump gives thumbs up heading into meeting.”

There was so much action that quadruple and quintuple split-screens ruled the day.

Hold on. Make that sextuple split-screens.

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There wasn’t this much interest in actual voting in West Virginia and Nebraska this week. But the implications of the Ryan-Trump meeting are enormous for the media; the result could shape the election narrative on the Republican side.

A long-lingering question has been whether GOP leaders and other establishment types who previously expressed reservations about Trump as the party’s standard-bearer will rally around him, keep their distance or outright reject him. Some have already made their decisions, but the House speaker — whom John A. Boehner and others wanted to make a late entry into the presidential race — is the most symbolically important and could set the tone for other skeptical Republicans.

Ryan’s choice will also go a long way toward determining whether media coverage in the next six months portrays a united Republican party or a fractured one. And the media will have to wait at least a little longer for Ryan to make his call. At a news conference following a 45-minute sit-down, the speaker described a “very encouraging meeting” but made no commitment — and that was after beginning his address by discussing legislation aimed at combating opioid addiction.

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“This is a process,” Ryan said. “It takes time. You don’t put things together in 45 minutes.”

As the media went bonkers — but ultimately didn’t get a conclusion — the jokes rolled in on Twitter.

Ryan has offered no timetable for a decision, though logic suggests the deadline will be before the Republican National Convention in July, which he is supposed to chair.

It’s not totally clear that voters will be swayed by whatever Ryan does; the GOP establishment, after all, has struggled to martial opposition to Trump for months. But for the media, this is clearly a high-stakes summit that is being covered accordingly.

Either that, or there’s really nothing else happening in the world.

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