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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Trump presidency has reached crossroads, but no hint on front page of The Record

In this cartoon, freelancer Trevor Irvin quotes President Trump saying, "I have No Problem Testi-Lying Under Oath" about his conversations with James Comey before he fired the FBI director.
Cartoonist Randall Enos pits Comey against "Over Comby."



Last week's top story is what the national news media are calling President Trump's pushing back against the damning testimony of fired FBI Director James Comey.

But on the front page of The Record of Woodland Park today, there's no mention that Comey's account of his interactions with Trump "could present a prosecutable case of obstruction of justice," as The New York Times puts it.

Record Editor Richard A. Green, the Gannett Co. hatchet man who has dispatched 350 employees so far, had only three main elements to play with on the front of the Sunday edition.

Selling out

So, many readers question the Page 1 play for a multi-million dollar makeover of a mall that is one of the paper's biggest advertisers (1A).

Staff Writer Joan Verdon, who has covered the retailing beat for more than a decade, notes that construction doesn't begin until the mall closes at 9 p.m.

Of course, Verdon can't describe The Shops at Riverside in Hackensack -- with Tiffany, Louis Vuitton and other ultra-high end retailers -- as the ghost town it is during the week.

Instead, she notes, "the floors are polished to a shine, the storefront windows are gleaming, and the mood is quiet and serene" (1A).

Jeff Sessions

But back on Page 4A today, an Associated Press story reports Attorney General Jeff Sessions has agreed to appear before the same Senate intelligence panel that heard Comey on Thursday -- as tens of millions of Americans watched on TV.

Sessions was forced to recuse himself in March from the Justice Department probe of Russian meddling in the election after lying about his contacts with Russian officials during the campaign.

Comey raised additional questions at Thursday's Capitol Hill hearing, "saying that the FBI expected Sessions to recuse himself weeks before he actually did," the AP reports, adding Comey declined to elaborate in open session. 

Hole in one

Below that story, USA Today reports Ed Russo, Bedminster's Planning Board chairman, "lectured Trump about the thickets of regulations designed to make it almost impossible to build a golf course" on the 500-acre estate once owned by automaker John DeLorean (4A).

"I'm worth 6 billion dollars and no little town ... is going to tell me what to do," Russo remembers Trump roaring back at the meeting nearly 20 years ago.

The president is playing golf at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster this weekend -- the equivalent of fiddling while Washington, D.C., burns.

Opinion columns

Today's Record does carry two opinion columns about Comey (Opinion section).

Columnist Mike Kelly says Comey wasn't "Captain Courageous" in his conversations with Trump.

Comey testified the president directed him to drop the probe of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contact with Russian officials, and sought assurances he wasn't personally under investigation.

"He was Willy Loman -- the ordinary guy who just tried to plod ahead in the face of problems," Kelly says of Comey (1O).

I'm sure readers overwhelmed Google with "who is Captain Courageous and Willy Loman?"

However, editorial writer Bruce Lowry said in his column, "Comey came across as decent, intelligent, and most of all, credible" (2O).

"Indeed, the more I watched, the more I listened, the more I wished it was Comey occupying the White House, and Trump the one on the outside looking in."

Expanded obituaries

Fully half of Page 3A today is devoted to Adam West, who played Batman on TV in the 1960s.

In addition to running his obituary from USA Today, the editors asked Staff Writer Rodrigo Torrejon, normally assigned to cover Hackensack, to contact fans and comic book lovers for reaction to West's death at 88.

The deaths of prominent North Jersey residents were once accorded this kind of attention, but only a couple of those expanded obituaries have appeared since Staff Writer Jay Levin was laid off in March.

He wrote those expanded local obituaries for more than a decade.  In the months before he was laid off, Levin also began writing tributes to residents who have remained active into their 90s.

Local news?

The front of the Local news section today is dominated by a story on "wonder dogs" and "all things canine" at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus (1L).

Although there are nearly 90 towns in the circulation area, only eight are mentioned in other stories.

Five of those stories are from Bergen County, which has 70 towns and the vast majority of the paper's readers.