Is the National Enquirer in bed with Donald Trump?
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If you were at last night's Trump SoHo 90th birthday bash in Manhattan for The National Enquirer, you could have told its fearless editorial leaders how much you enjoy their current fare.
Let's see: "Dick Morris: The terrorist crisis that will destroy Hillary," "Selena Gomez: Pill-popping star’s lust for Brad Pitt," "Sharon Osbourne bugs her own bedroom — to spy on Ozzy."
And, amazingly, much more. It's like an endless 3 a.m. buffet table in Vegas. Stay until you throw up, then return to the slots.
Then there's what Bloomberg News tags (with appropriate typographical fever) "TABLOID'S SHOCKING LOVE AFFAIR WITH TRUMP REVEALED!" (Bloomberg) It's been in the tank for Trump, to the apparent joy of readers who have "long accepted the Enquirer's blurring of truth and fiction."
Trump has written for them, especially after its 2011 investigative saga, "millions implore Donald Trump to reconsider new presidential run." He's buds with chief executive David Pecker. But editor Dylan Howard assures that it is the readers craving to make America great again (!), not the friendship, that explains the admiring coverage.
"My duty is to my readers," he says.
How does it verify these scoops? "What we do that the mainstream media doesn't do, is that we put people through lie-detector tests to prove the validity of their information."
That same rigor inspired famously cerebral, policy-driven exclusives of the past, like John Edwards' extramarital affair (and child) with a filmmaker. And the photo of presidential candidate Gary Hart sitting on a dock with, writes Bloomberg, "a woman named Donna Rice." But zilch on Trump.
Still, Howard promises the checkbook is ready and will pay for scoops that "will shake the election to its very core."
Its own circulation could stand some shaking. It's plummeted, to an average of 342,071 a week, down from more than 5 million in the 1970s. Its web audience is around 850,000 unique visitors a month.
So they partied in Soho while I dined in Chicago with Merrill and Barbara Brown. He's a longtime journalist-news executive (founding editor-in-chief of MSNBC.com) who runs the 800-student communication and media school at New Jersey's Montclair State University.
He hoped the soiree's attendees had time to "look around for folks from Bayrock, the mysterious Russian financing company that developed the hotel. Maybe the firm's principals, Tevfik Arif and Felix Sater, were there. Sater was once convicted (and imprisoned) for attacking someone with a broken margarita glass. So partygoers might have wanted to avoid political chatter."
It would be easy. When I dropped by the Jewel supermarket checkout yesterday with my green grapes, Tropicana and 7-year-old, there was this: "Angie turns to lesbian lover."
Use Facebook Live or not?
"'For The Beast, it's about whether or not there's an interesting/unique moment for us to use it," Daily Beast President Mike Dyer said in an email. "At the end of the day, if there's a story that we can tell in a unique way and it's well-suited for Facebook Live we'd do it, but we don't prioritize it for its own sake."
Mr. Dyer said The Daily Beast is now doing "far fewer" Facebook Live broadcasts than a few months ago, when the platform was starting to catch on with publishers. The company has already pulled the plug on one Facebook Live show, "The Appointment," which focused on men's style, though it still produces a show about cocktails called "Drink Cart" and occasionally airs a show called "Cheat Sheet" when a news event calls for it. (Ad Age)
The FCC's cold clicker, or, ah, feet
"The Federal Communications Commission made a last-minute announcement this morning that it would delay the vote on a measure that would have effectively killed off the cable box by requiring TV providers to make their shows and movies available through free streaming apps." (The Verge)
The morning chatter
It was heavy on Trump and surrogates, like off-the-rails Rudy Giuliani, raising the prospect of Trump explicitly bringing up Bill Clinton's infidelities. Said CNN's Mark Preston on "New Day": "What Bill Clinton did was terrible and it was awful and there's no way anybody in the media is justifying what he did....We are talking about the plain politics of where we are right now and whether Donald Trump is making a strategic decision. If this is getting under his skin, what if he becomes president and (North Korean dictator) gets under his skin? That's the issue."
Having known "Morning Joe's" Joe Scarborough during the Clinton presidency — he was a Florida congressman, I was D.C. bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune — I just nodded my head as he urged Trump and shills to switch topics. Remember his GOP colleagues attacks on Bill back then, "The further it went on, Bill Clinton's approval ratings soared over 60. Hillary Clinton's approval ratings higher than it ever was. It was a colossal mistake for the Republicans then."
"Fox & Friends" turned deeply introspective, and chagrined, with professionally revived Ed Henry back from the extramarital doghouse with big news: Democrats on The Federal Communications Commission allegedly targeting Fox News and other media firms with foreign ownership to potentially not engage in any "electioneering communications." Said Henry, "This proposal could be used to muzzle free speech." He noted, parenthetically, this is likely going nowhere. Steve Doocy then added to the faux outrage over those wayward Dems: this notion could hurt Ben & Jerry's, which is owned by Unilever.
The sting victim's quick retreat
Well, it didn't take Sam Allardyce long to find some sun and peace. He's the famous British soccer coach who was caught in a Daily Telegraph sting operation, counseling reporters posing as Asian businessmen on how to evade league rules on third-party ownership of players. The Daily Mail quickly caught him at his villa in Spain, looking as happy as a clam. (Daily Mail)
Read Peggy Noonan
From her weekend Wall Street Journal column, which is very on the mark as to how in a world of so much more information, there seems so much less thought:
"Everyone is tired, and chronically tired people live, perilously, on the Edge of Stupid. More important, modern media realities make everything intellectually thinner, shallower. Everything moves fast; we talk not of the scandal of the day but the scandal of the hour, reducing a great event, a presidential campaign, into an endless river of gaffes." (Wall Street Journal)
The Washington Post goes full-Trump
After reading Noonan shortly after midnight, I went to The Washington Post's website. Right there, the unavoidable stories and columns staring at me included, "The first debate was a defeat for Trump. The second could be a massacre," "Why the rest of the world would hand Clinton a landslide victory," "Donald Trump’s rise reflects American conservatism’s decay," "Republicans want to tame Trump, but he may be their doom," "Steve Case: Why I’m voting for Hillary Clinton," "Trump Foundation lacks certification needed to raise funds," "Report of Trump spending in Cuba could hurt his chances in pivotal Florida," "Report of Trump spending in Cuba could hurt his chances in pivotal Florida," and "Trump, press-shy? The once-ubiquitous candidate is moving away from media."
The foundation piece is the latest by David Fahrenthold, who outlined it briefly on CNN's "New Day." His work has been stellar, even path-breaking in occasionally adroit using of crowdsourcing to get tips. Still, overall, after giving a pass to Trump for so long early on, the Media Demolition Squad is operating in righteous overdrive.
The Marshall Project ("nonprofit journalism about criminal justice") joins with Fusion for the first media fact-checking in weeks that doesn't involve Donald Trump.
"In November 2014, President Barack Obama said that immigration officials would make it a priority to deport immigrants who had committed serious crimes. 'We’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security,' Obama said in his address, as he presented a new memo on priorities for the Department of Homeland Security. 'Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids.'” (The Marshall Project)
"But data obtained by The Marshall Project, detailing over 300,000 deportations since Obama’s speech, show that has not been the case. The majority — roughly 60 percent — were of immigrants with no criminal conviction or whose only crime was immigration-related, such as illegal entry or re-entry. Twenty-one percent were convicted of nonviolent crimes other than immigration. Fewer than 20 percent had potentially violent convictions, such as assault, DUI or weapons offenses.
A passing digital failure
A Times of London weekly app was put on the market in January for four bucks a month. That gambit to reach a worldwide audience didn't work and will now end. the paper says it will use lessons learned for other endeavors, including smartphone apps. (Nieman Lab)
Cut, cut, cut
"The Charlotte publishing hub that produces The News & Observer always has been quite busy. It got busier in August, and the current workload will double in the next few months. This is all part of McClatchy Company’s goal to have hubs produce all 28 of its newspapers by sometime in the first quarter of 2017, according to Robin Johnston, the director of the Charlotte hub, called McClatchy News Desk East." (Raleigh & Company)
This is in predictable sync with what lots of publishers are doing, namely re-using content among papers and, in their minds, more efficiently utilizing copy editors, designers and others.
If there's good news here, it's that they're not farming out copy editing to Manila or San Salvador. Maybe that's next. It's among the last gasps of cost-cutting by folks who aren't getting anywhere in increasing revenues. McClatchy's second quarter report showed a loss of nearly $15 million on revenues north of $240 million.
Is pot a gateway drug?
The Boston Globe did some fact-checking when it comes to a state ballot referendum on legalizing marijuana. Does pot lead to family debilitating opioid use, as referendum critics claim?
"Six weeks before voters decide on a referendum legalizing recreational use of marijuana, a review of the scientific literature and interviews with experts shows that, while there is some evidence for the gateway theory, it is not as solid as the state’s political leadership would suggest." (The Boston Globe)
The New Yorker a "disgrace"?
Somebody at Slate got up on the wrong side of bed. "The New Yorker's Topical Comedy is a Disgrace?" Really? Assessing its comedy, Ben Mathis-Lilley concludes, it's disappointing "to see the revered New Yorker clawing for web traffic under a bridge in the bad part of town. On the bright side, maybe this post I'm writing will get clicked and shared—and if it does, I'll probably write another post like it, and more after that. And they'll just get worse and worse." (Slate) Ah, yes, the tensions between cranking it daily and adhering to long-held qualitative normal. It's a challenge.
Kellyanne Conway's challenge
Tweeted Trump: "Anytime you see a story about me or my campaign saying "sources said," do not believe it. They are no sources, they are just made up lies!" (@ron_fournier)
USA Today's disendorsement
The impact of newspaper editorial endorsements is minimal these days, unless perhaps you do something that goes against the grain, such as a conservative paper backing a liberal or vice versa. And sometimes you declare a pox on both their houses and doesn't endorse. Now USA Today, which hasn't endorsed candidates during its 34 years, "disendorses" Trump while not formally endorsing Clinton. He's "unfit for the presidency." (Poynter)
Have a good weekend. I've got a fundraiser for a food pantry and lots of chauffeuring to kids ballgames.