When CNN aired a recording of President Trump and his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen on Tuesday night, cable networks quickly focused much of their coverage on one word in the recording: cash.
And more specifically, parsing whether Trump said “pay with cash,” “don’t pay with cash” or pay with “check.”
As networks spent hours on end analyzing the nearly three-minute recording, they sneaked in a crucial caveat: It doesn’t actually matter whether Trump offered to pay via cash or check to bury former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story. (There is also no evidence any such payment was made by Trump or Cohen.)
But you wouldn’t necessarily pick that up from the wall-to-wall coverage, which at times drifted into the absurd, as you can see in the video above.
(Yes, the Fix did it, too. Here's our very own parsing of the “cash” question.)
The recording did appear to contradict Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani’s previous statement, denying Trump’s knowledge in advance of any payment. Pressed about that contradiction on Fox News last night, Giuliani instead repeated the Trump-Cohen exchange that many by then had heard.
“Well the fact is that the president does bring up cash, but he says don’t pay with cash,” Giuliani said, chuckling.