The Morning Jolt


Anthony Bourdain, RIP

Chef Anthony Bourdain at the 2015 Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, Calif., September 12, 2015. (Danny Moloshok/Reuters)

Ye gods! How could he do something like this?

Anthony Bourdain, a gifted storyteller and writer who took CNN viewers around the world, has died. He was 61.

CNN confirmed Bourdain’s death on Friday and said the cause of death was suicide.

“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain,” the network said in a statement Friday morning. “His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time.”

You hear how suicidal thoughts can overwhelm the most unlikely people, defying logic, reason, faith, love, and everything else that makes life worth living. You hear it, and perhaps you believe it, perhaps you have some doubts.

And then one morning you wake up and see that the guy who made a good living traveling around the world to the most unlikely places, eating amazing food, who seemed to have friends in every city, and who appeared to be in a happy relationship with a beautiful actress and activist . . . has decided to end it all with no warning.

Was something about Kate Spade’s suicide a trigger? Do people having suicidal thoughts become more likely to act upon them if they hear about someone else doing it?

If you’re not doing okay, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.

Hopefully you’re doing okay. If you’re not, talk to someone.

A Particularly Sordid Scandal and Crime on Capitol Hill

This . . . does not make anyone involved look good.

James A. Wolfe, 57, was charged with lying repeatedly to investigators about his contacts with three reporters. According to the authorities, Mr. Wolfe made false statements to the F.B.I. about providing two of them with sensitive information related to the committee’s work. He denied to investigators that he ever gave classified material to journalists, the indictment said.

Mr. Wolfe, the Intelligence Committee’s director of security, was slated to appear before a federal judge on Friday in Washington.

The seizure was disclosed in a letter to the Times reporter, Ali Watkins, who had been in a three-year relationship with Mr. Wolfe. The seizure suggested that prosecutors under the Trump administration will continue the aggressive tactics employed under President Barack Obama.

Wolfe is 57 and married. Watkins was 22 in 2014, making her about 26 today. According to the indictment, Wolfe and “reporter number two” began a personal relationship in December 2013.

Watkins’s first big scoop, about the CIA Inspector General’s Office asking the Justice Department to investigate allegations stemming from a not-yet-released Senate Intelligence Committee report, came in early 2014. As the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote at the time, “Ali Watkins, currently a 22-year-old freelancer for McClatchy in Washington, D.C., received a tip from sources who came to trust her while making herself a presence on Capitol Hill, according to a posting by Temple’s School of Media and Communication.”

I don’t have perfect clairvoyance into the private lives of every reporter I know, but my sense is reporters sleeping with sources is the sort of thing that happens a lot in movies and television but rarely in real life. But because of situations like this, a lot of women reporters are going to deal with more “she’s sleeping with a source” rumors.

Watkins’s beat was intelligence and national security, and a look at her work at BuzzFeed shows a lot of stories about the Senate Intelligence Committee, what Carter Page was telling the committee, and quoting unnamed sources such as “a high-level US intelligence official.” Suddenly it’s not so difficult to guess who at least one of her sources was.

Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr and vice chairman Mark Warner issued a joint statement:

We are troubled to hear of the charges filed against a former member of the Committee staff. While the charges do not appear to include anything related to the mishandling of classified information, the Committee takes this matter extremely seriously. We were made aware of the investigation late last year, and have fully cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice since then. Working through Senate Legal Counsel, and as noted in a Senate Resolution, the Committee has made certain official records available to the Justice Department.

This news is disappointing, as the former staffer in question served on the Committee for more than three decades, and in the Armed Forces with distinction. However, we trust the justice system to act appropriately and ensure due process as this case unfolds. This will in no way interfere with our ongoing investigation, and the Committee remains committed to carrying out our important work on behalf of the American people.

Greetings from Washington: A Champion’s City for the First Time Since 1992

It’s the best of mornings for Washington Capitals fans, and there will be a lot of groggy but happy people showing up a little later than usual in workplaces around Washington this morning.

Not long ago, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon repeated one of his recurring lines, that Washington, D.C., is a “minor-league sports town.” (Wilbon wrote for the Washington Post for many years, but he’s from Chicago.) More than a few local fans and sports-talk hosts bristled at the statements, and it’s not quite accurate. Yes, the Washington area is full of transplants, and the new residents usually retain their loyalties to their team. (I remember Ed Gillespie once saying that he realized he had “gone native” when he started feeling more enthusiasm for the Nationals than his childhood favorite, the Philadelphia Phillies.)

And for a long time, local sports media was obsessed with the Redskins and significantly less interested in the other franchises. This made little sense, since the Redskins have been a dysfunctional dumpster fire for most of the time Daniel Snyder has owned the team, and the other three teams have been much better.

But even being “pretty good” brings its own frustrations. The Washington Wizards have been “a team on the rise” since John Wall arrived in 2010. They indeed rose . . . and then sort of plateaued as one of those teams good enough to make the playoffs, not good enough to make much noise once they’re in. Since 2012, the Washington Nationals collected and developed jaw-dropping talent — Stephan Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer — and tore through the regular season like a tornado . . . and then kept falling apart in the postseason. And then there were the Capitals, blessed with arguably the best player in the game in Alexander Ovechkin since 2005, and similarly crushing opponents in the regular season . . . and then usually running into the Pittsburgh Penguins and suffering a heartbreaking defeat.

Three of Washington’s teams seemed to have the unofficial slogan, “Regular Season Greatness . . . and Forgetting How to Play the Game Once the Postseason Starts.” And yet local sports radio would give you regular updates on how they were using sod on the practice fields at Redskins Park and fans calling in and talking about Kirk Cousins like a jilted girlfriend.

But no more.

It’s worth noting that being “a great sports town” is distinct from being a great city. I’d argue that most of the cities that struggle with consistent fan support and enthusiasm have the challenge of competing against good weather and lots of other fun things to do: Miami, San Diego, arguably Los Angeles. Meanwhile, some of the country’s most hard-luck, economically challenged cities have passionate fan bases: Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo. Detroit might be turning into that decrepit future that Robocop envisioned, but the Red Wings and Pistons still sell out.

ADDENDA: Kevin Williamson, on fire:

Mass democracy has no intellectual content. It is, as David French and others have noted, simply an extension of high-school cafeteria-table politics: status-jockeying and status-monkeying 24/7/365.25 and not much else. It doesn’t do much for the country, but it beats working for a living. Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself muttering “Hell, yeah!” when your favorite multimillionaire cable-news rodeo clown lays the rhetorical smackdown on one of his multimillionaire Central Park West neighbors two buildings over while you’re stuck in traffic commuting home to the suburbs from downtown wherever.


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