Sam Nunberg May Be The 21st Century Martha Mitchell
March 7, 2018

After Sam Nunberg’s extraordinary – but very damning to Trump World – series of appearances in the news yesterday, Fox News is right in step with the White House in working to discredit him as a madman. It’s not too dissimilar to what the Nixon White House did to Martha Mitchell during Watergate.

For those who have listened to Slate’s “Slow Burn” podcasts about Watergate and for those who actually remember, it’s hard not to think of Nunberg as a modern-day Martha Mitchell: crazy, inebriated maybe, but in a position to know something – and a penchant for talking to the press about it. A January 19, 2018 New Yorker article about Slow Burn likened Mitchell to Anthony Scaramucci. But that was before Nunberg took over our news cycle last night.

Nunberg, a disaffected former top political staffer for Trump, who was fired in 2015, raged through a series of jaw-dropping cable appearances yesterday, including one in which CNN host Erin Burnett announced she smelled alcohol on his breath (which Nunberg denied).

Nunberg’s beef was a subpoena to appear before a grand jury investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and one from special counsel Robert Mueller to turn over emails and documents related to Trump and nine former Trump advisors. At first, Nunberg announced he’d refuse to comply and taunted Mueller to arrest him. But by Monday night, Nunberg signaled he’d likely comply.

In the midst of all that, Nunberg delivered some damning statements. For example, on MSNBC, he said, “They probably have something on Trump … I think they were interested in something with his business Yes, they asked me about his business… By the way, I have no idea what he did.”

The Washington Post noted:The line of questioning, Nunberg told MSNBC anchor Katy Tur, “insinuated to me that [Trump] may have done something, and he may very well have.” He added: “Trump may have very well done something during the election. I don’t know what it is. I could be wrong, by the way.”Nunberg said that the special counsel had sought to persuade him to testify against another former Trump adviser, Roger Stone, on collusion with Russians, but he said he would not because Stone has been a friend and mentor to him.

The two key points for me are a) Nunberg’s close friend and Trump loyalist Stone is under FBI investigation over his possible involvement in the Russian hacking of Democratic National Committee emails; and b) Mueller clearly feels that Nunberg is in possession of evidence that is valuable to the Russia investigation.

Since they can’t (yet) restrain Nunberg as Nixon’s attorney general John Mitchell held wife Martha to keep her away from the press, Fox News is out to do the next best thing: suggest Nunberg should be in a straight jacket. Giving Trump TV extra juice, I'm sure, is Nunberg’s claim, “I just get a feeling [Trump] did something … People like Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro? They’re gonna be very embarrassed when it comes out.”

Naturally, Sean Hannity got on the case ASAP! Apparently, he couldn’t risk anyone not 100% in the tank for Trump as help. He teamed up with fellow Fox Russia-probe-underminer, Gregg Jarrett and former Trump advisor and suspected Russian agent Carter Page for the job. (From the transcript, with my emphases):JARRETT: [T]his guy, Sam Nunberg … is a peripheral figure. In 2015, before he got fired from the Trump campaign, has been hauling off all day long and incredibly erratic sort of meltdown way and making all kinds of baseless accusations that he had no access to.For example, he said of Carter Page, he said Carter Page colluded with the Russians. Carter has never even met Sam Nunberg or talk to him.

Yet Page was evasive on the subject.HANNITY: Is there anything you are hearing Nunberg says that resonates in your mind, is truth?PAGE: I mean, I was called by dozens of reporters and they were asking me for a reaction. I just said, well, ask him where the facts are. You know, everything should be based on facts. Unfortunately, it’s been pretty seldom focused on that to thus far.

Not to worry, Trumpians. The rest of Fox News is on the case. Some of the video headlines: “Nunberg has zero reputation for accuracy;” and “Nunberg’s TV blitz raises questions about his credibility.”

Fox reporter Brian Flood wrote:Liberal news organizations feasted Monday on Sam Nunberg, a clearly distressed, possibly drunk bit player from the early days of the Trump campaign, as multiple interviews went off the rails and media members took advantage of a clearly fragile man.

Conservative Joseph Curl wrote on so, it was all very sad. The networks – desperate for any dirt on Trump, from anyone! – put someone on their air repeatedly who they knew, or should have known, was, as his friend said, an “obviously fragile man.”

With more Martha Mitchell echoes, Fox Business’ Charles Gasparino reported today that Nunberg plans to get “treatment,” probably for a drinking problem as per Fox regular Joe Concha. Nunberg has gone silent today.

Have the Trump loyalists found their own way to restrain Nunberg? Or is this just a temporary pause in his sirens? Stay tuned.

Listen to the first Slow Burn episode, about Martha Mitchell via the link below:

1: Martha by Slow Burn: A Podcast About Watergate

Our eight-episode miniseries launches with the story of a woman who knew too much.

Originally published at

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