Is reporting on Donald Trump’s personal life fair game?
- Weekend trifecta: Trump, The New York Times and sex
You couldn't beat the topic of Donald Trump, possible abuser of females, for weekend reading, whether you were at a beach or freezing while watching youth sports in Chicago. The opening of the front-page opus was vivid. "Donald Trump and women: The words evoke a familiar cascade of casual insults, hurled from the safe distance of a Twitter account, a radio show or a campaign podium. This is the public treatment of some women by Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president: degrading, impersonal, performed." (The New York Times)
Trump responded with a characteristic Twitter blitzkrieg. "Everyone is laughing at the @nytimes for the lame hit piece they did on me and women. I gave them many names of women I helped — refused to use." (@realDonaldTrump) "Fox and Friends" tagged it a liberal "hit piece" this morning and beckoned Rowanne Brewer Lane, the story's central ("debased") figure, who defended Trump and chided her portrayal.
Joe Scarborough on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" wondered whether the paper took an "off-handed, unfortunate" remark and "overreached...and played into Donald Trump's hands." Colleague Mike Barnicle called it "totally not surprising" boorish, predictable Trump behavior ("It comes with the dinner"). "TRUMP ON THE DEFENSIVE OVER HIS PAST," blared CNN's "New Day." Where was Megyn Kelly when he needed her? We'll have to await her Monday night show, not to mention her big special with Trump Tuesday night. (Mediaite)
At minimum it reminded why the probing of his private life is fair game. "Trump raised the issue of treatment of women and Hillary as an 'enabler' on the campaign trail, yes?" Jeff Seglin, an ethics and public policy expert at Harvard's Kennedy School, said to me Sunday "I’m not sure why it was a front-page story since there’s nothing in the piece that seems earth shattering or all that surprising. But I didn’t see anything in a first read through that suggested it was sourced poorly or inappropriate."
"Trump loses all sorts of privacy, especially as he has denied the privacy of others. He has opened the floodgates," says Colin Greer, an educator-playwright who is president of the New York-based New World Foundation, a civil rights organization." But the story may not move any needles. The suspicion of of Seglin (a former New York Times ethics columnist) is "that it won't change a thing among those who support him and will outrage those who already find his character questionable." And, of course, Trump won't need any paid advertising to defend himself since there'll surely be few TV bookers to whom he'll say no and no shortage of initial defenders.
- Warren Buffett eyes Yahoo
Huh? He's said he avoids investments in industries he doesn't understand, like the internet. But he may be "backing an investor consortium that includes Quicken Loans Inc. founder Dan Gilbert in the second round of bidding for Yahoo's Internet assets." (Bloomberg). "But depending on how the deal is structured, he might not be betting on a stock’s performance, so much as the company’s continued existence. Moreover, the assets for sale — including finance, sports and video sites — are arguably media, a business he’s long tracked."
- How did Russia screw around with tamper proof bottles?
The New York Times got lots of notice with a two-part report on apparent dead-of-night, cloak-and-dagger Russian skullduggery at the 2014 Winter Olympics that it hosted in Sochi. In sum, it allegedly switched out "drug-tainted urine from the squat containers long thought to be tamper-proof" and saved the butts of many of its medal-winning athletes who had apparently used performance-enhancing drugs.
It primary source is a former top Russian anti-doping official who's fled to Los Angeles. (The New York Times) "Dr. Rodchenkov’s account could not be independently verified, but it was consistent with the broad findings of a report published last year by the World Anti-Doping Agency."
On Sunday I tracked down Phil Hersh, former longtime Olympics reporter for the Chicago Tribune, who was in Atlanta doing a swimming piece for ESPN. Hersh took a buyout and is doing both freelance journalism and will be doing some work for the U.S. Olympic Committee. He knows this stuff cold and said, "Do I believe it's possible? Yes. Do I want to see more proof? Yes." In particular, he'd like more details on the emails, spreadsheet and the act of tampering with the bottles. But he did note that the Russian government's reaction departs from it's usual claim of a Western conspiracy to shaft it and suggests a bit of groveling to avoid being banned from the upcoming Summer Olympics in Brazil.
- More Panama Papers disclosures
Reporting on the Panama Papers, which chronicled the use of offshore tax havens by saints, sinners and many others, initially focused on its use by cronies of Vladimir Putin. Now OpenSecrets Blog dissects the leaked documents to shed light on offshore opportunities exploited by major hedge funds. "All told, the value of their 151 hedge funds is as high as $390 billion. Most of that is in the funds based overseas, mostly in the Cayman Islands." (OpenSecrets)
- Paying a price for free digital
Alan Rusbridger, a cerebral soul who as editor helped to transform The Guardian into a digital colossus and liberal darling, quit the organization on the eve of becoming chairman of the nonprofit that oversees it. "A central point of disagreement within The Guardian has been its refusal — for Mr. Rusbridger, virtually an ideology — to charge online subscribers, as news organizations like The Financial Times, The Times of London, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have come around to doing." (The New York Times)
- The greatest streak
Sports Illustrated's cover story last week suggested the possibility the white hot Chicago Cubs could win the World Series is the greatest American sports story yet told. Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal argued that Joe DiMaggio’s 56-Game Hit Streak may be the greatest record never to be broken, and explained why. Sunday was the 75th anniversary of the first hit of that streak. (The Wall Street Journal)
- A family blast at Woody Allen
Last week, the Hollywood Reporter ran an essay by by Ronan Farrow, the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, bashing the media for not asking Allen about allegations that he sexually assaulted his daughter, Dylan, when she was 7. (Hollywood Reporter)
Farrow noted emails sent by Allen's publicist, whose "CC" list "revealed reporters at every major outlet with whom that publicist shared relationships—and mutual benefit, given her firm’s starry client list, from Will Smith to Meryl Streep." The publicist proceeded to ban The Hollywood Reporter from an Allen press conference on his new film at the Cannes Film Festival.
- Tiger Woods may be envious
On Saturday, the White House press pool cooled its heels at a Burger King as President Obama and chums played golf at Andrews Air Force Base. This prompted my request of Mark Knoller, CBS White House reporter and the encyclopedia on all things presidential, for a fairways and greens update. He says it was Obama's 289th round of golf as president. He's playing a whole lot more than injured and reclusive Tiger Woods. Remember him?
Meanwhile, Vice co-founder Shane Smith was hanging with Obama Sunday for a piece as Obama trekked to New Jersey, while CNN reported that BuzzFeed will interview Obama Monday for a live YouTube chat on his seemingly doomed Supreme Court nomination. (@DylanByers)
- Media drug epidemic
Big Pharma is having a tough go. The Los Angeles Times went after Purdue Pharma's OxyContin in a big expose and now The Wall Street Journal spotlights the illegally produced painkiller fentanyl, "a synthetic narcotic that presents a new level of peril in the opioid crisis raging the U.S. (The Wall Street Journal)
Meanwhile, a Kentucky judge agreed with the new life science site STAT that Purdue Pharma company documents in a suit settled by the state should be released. And on Sunday we got yet another but different and revealing take on a growing mess: The Chicago Sun-Times investigation, "Heroin Deaths: Tragedy or Murder?" It details how Illinois prosecutors "increasingly are filing drug-induced homicide charges against those who provide illegal drugs that result in fatal overdoses." (Chicago Sun-Times)
- Pre-conventions reading list
Kevin Rennie, a lawyer who contributes to the Hartford Courant, has a reading list for those armies who plan to cover the political conventions this summer: "The 103rd Ballot" by Robert K. Murray (1976), about the 1924 Democratic Convention; "Happy Days Are Here Again" by Steve Neal (2004), on Franklin Roosevelt nearly losing the Democratic nomination in 1932; "Five Days in Philadelphia" by Charles Peters (2005), on Wendell Willkie's sixth ballot win at the 1940 Republican convention; "Mutual Contempt" by Jeff Shesol (1997), on the sniping between John F. Kennedy and eventual running mate Lyndon Johnson at the 1960 Democratic convention; and "Miami and the Siege of Chicago" by Norman Mailer (1968), my personal favorite, a very evocative and emotive (if relatively slim) look at both 1968 conventions. (The Wall Street Journal)
- Bay Area media combo
"Next month, media organizations in the Bay Area are planning to put aside their rivalries and competitive instincts for a day of coordinated coverage on the homeless crisis in the city. The Chronicle, which is leading the effort, is dispensing with traditional news article formats and will put forward possible solutions to the seemingly intractable plight of around 6,000 people without shelter." (The New York Times)
- Trump's phone impersonations
"Asked by ('Today') host Savannah Guthrie about news reports galore in the early 1990s that Trump routinely planted stories with journalists who received calls from 'John Miller' or 'John Barron,' Trump replied: 'No, and it was not me on the phone — it was not me on the phone. And it doesn’t sound like me on the phone, I will tell you that, and it was not me on the phone.' It was him, of course." Yup. And it's in legal documents. It may be another total lie by Trump. (National Memo)
- A belated arrival
Finally. "The Undefeated, ESPN’s long-gestating website on race and sports, is expected to finally come to life on Tuesday morning, nearly three years after the media giant conceived it." (The New York Times) Its early pre-publication period has been a total mess. Now, with a former high-ranking Washington Post editor in charge, it's said to be in a stable mode as it aims to appeal to African-Americans via longer-form journalism. Tuesday is the 62nd anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, a reference one hopes a few readers, targeted or not, recognize.
- A Vanity Fair-Poynter partnership
As of this morning, Vanity Fair will be running this newsletter on its site as "The Warren Report." We're tickled pink with the partnership. My hopes of exploiting the relationship are minimal and primarily involve whether at some point I can get the legendary Annie Leibovitz to do my next passport photos.
- Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
Burt Glass will be executive director of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. Previously, he was managing director of Hairpin Communications. (The Eye) | Pressley Baird is now an editor at the Raleigh News & Observer. She is an instructor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (@pressleybaird) | Ben Dobson is now news director at WVIT in Hartford, Connecticut. Previously, he was assistant news director at New England Cable News. (Rick Gevers) | Job of the day: The Palo Alto (California) Daily Post is looking for a reporter. Get your resumes in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: firstname.lastname@example.org.