Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer, meanwhile, shared a lectern in a hallway, side by side, one glaring as the other spoke, looking unfortunately like a cross between Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” and the twins from “The Shining.”
There was a bit of new rhetoric from Mr. Trump (his prepared speech referenced morality, something he rarely does off the cuff), and a few sound bites from the opposition (“We don’t govern by temper tantrum,” Mr. Schumer said). But you heard nothing you couldn’t absorb from a few minutes surfing cable news, or political Twitter, any time of the day.
So what did all this accomplish? Well, it got Mr. Trump on TV, his true home. After a run of headlines for the new Democratic House, it gained him two days of newscasts about him, him, him. Cable reporters gave hourly updates on whether the president might declare a national emergency. He became the protagonist again, the home audience hanging on for the dramatic reveal.
The real crisis revelation, honestly, was a crisis of TV standards, which came long before the cameras started rolling. On Monday, the networks hemmed, wobbled, then decided to give Mr. Trump unfiltered access to their audience, on a topic on which he has a clear record of, well, “lies,” “falsehoods,” “misstatements” — I’ll leave it to you and your thesaurus.
Whatever the semantics, the networks know they can’t trust Mr. Trump to tell the truth. They know this because he went on live TV twice last week — in a Cabinet meeting and in a long Rose Garden ramble — and said numerous things about this very topic that were demonstrably, empirically false.