Speaking—as we always are now—of the corruption of our political and institutional norms, when did the Friday news dump become the Friday news release? Everyone is sitting around hoping, and trying to convince themselves they believe, that this could be the afternoon when Robert Mueller wraps up his national security investigation into the 2016 election.
Why should it be? There was a time, not long ago, when everyone understood it was bad to put out a hugely interesting piece of news just as the workweek was winding down. People did it when they had something to hide, so everyone would overlook it or forget about it by Monday. If you’ve been working on a project for nearly two years, why would you deliver it when it’s most likely to be ignored?
But—time for a little game theory!—at some point, everyone got so used to Friday afternoon being a time when news broke, it became a convention to break news on Friday afternoons. Donald Trump breaks news on Fridays all the time, and only sometimes seems to be doing it out of embarrassment. Mostly it comes across as a flourish, a way to grab the final news cycle before the weekend, and possibly to make the press scramble. Or it could just be the president sundowning at the end of a long week.
Yet Robert Mueller, who everyone swears is the president’s temperamental and tactical opposite, favors Fridays too. Axios’ timeline of the investigation, a proxy for what news-processors processed, includes 21 events where the special prosecutor made news via indictments (or batches of indictments), pleas, raids, arrests, or memos. Twelve of those happened on Fridays. The next most likely day for Mueller news was Monday, with four events. No Mueller events have ever happened on a Wednesday.
It may be that this itself has been an adaptation to the constantly escalating news cycles of the Trump presidency. It’s been more than two years since anyone could remember what happened the day before yesterday. Now, if you want something overlooked, put it out on a Wednesday, in the heart of the maelstrom.