CBS exposes Wounded Warriors wasteful spending
- A $3 million Colorado confab
Kudos to CBS News reporter Chip Reid and producer Jennifer Janisch for a terrific piece last night that disclosed how the Wounded Warrior Project charity spends just 60 percent of its donations on veterans (by comparison, another big vets charity spends 96 percent). You've surely seen the charity's heart-tugging TV spots and throngs of politicians heralding their disabled members. Well, it received more than $300 million in 2014 and, CBS revealed, Wounded Warrior Project spending on conferences, conventions and meetings went from $1.7 million in 2010 to $26 million last year. The largesse included $3 million at one apparent bacchanal at a five-star resort in Colorado. CBS News interviewed 40 folks, including an Iraq vet who was actively involved with the charity. The charity's head wouldn't cooperate and the subordinate he sent out was anemic (now I'm being charitable) in its defense. (CBS News)
- Rachel Maddow heads to Flint
She hosts a town hall meeting there at 9 p.m. EST on MSNBC. She's among a small group of national media who have done good work on the story. Locally, The Flint Journal, led by Bryn Mickle and reporters including Ron Fonger, has produced more than 500 stories in the past two years that chronicled this debacle. It's also produced a very fine slide show, "How the Flint Water Crisis Emerged" that originally surfaced in October. Amid the heightened national scrutiny, it's generated nearly 1 million pageviews in the last two weeks. (The Flint Journal)
- Trump backs out of GOP debate
So he still claims to be miffed at Megyn Kelly of Fox, whom he should actually thank for the acidic question that drove him into a rhetorical rage during the GOP debate last August. As Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers used to riff on "Saturday Night Live's" Weekend Update, "REALLY?!" Instead, Trump will host a Wounded Warriors rally (Bloomberg), perhaps allowing him to inquire about the charity's dubious spending. Meanwhile, MSNBC and the Union Leader of Manchester, New Hampshire are telling the Democratic National Committee to take a hike and announced a Feb. 4 debate just in advance of the state's primary. But will Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley agree and thus incur the wrath of the DNC? Its rules state that if you take part in an "unsanctioned" debate, you get booted from the official ones. (POLITICO) We're the only country in which the parties oversee primary debates and for-profit media make big bucks off what should be non-commercial, educational endeavors.
- Imperiled ethnic media in New York
The City Council there holds a hearing this morning on the future of community-focused ethnic media amid fears of the closing of the print edition of Spanish-language El Diario. Its parent company, ImpreMedia, just showed the door to about half its editorial and sales staff. The paper has been around for 102 years. Peter Szekely, a former longtime Reuters correspondent in Washington who heads the NewsGuild of New York, tells me the city's "ethnic media outlets are a vital lifeline for many of the city's immigrant communities. Often times, they can be the only way for non-English speaking New Yorkers to get their local news in their own language."
- A no B.S. dispute
"In a war of words between two viral news agencies, a New York federal court has been invited to determine who is a bullsh*tter and who isn't. On Monday, journalist Michael Leidig and Central European News filed a defamation lawsuit demanding more than $11 million in damages over an Aug. 24, 2015, BuzzFeed article headlined 'The King of Bullsh*t News' and subtitled 'How a small British news agency and its founder fill your Facebook feed with stories that are wonderful, wacky — and often wrong.'" BuzzFeed says it doesn't comment on pending litigation. Here's a tale on the $11 million defamation suit (The Hollywood Reporter), along with the original BuzzFeed opus. (BuzzFeed)
- Forbes shortchanges Mike Bloomberg
Re/code's Edmund Lee, a former Bloomberg News reporter, says Forbes puts Bloomberg's wealth at $35.6 billion — but it's actually $48.8 billion. That would hike him from merely the 11th richest person in the world to the fifth in the Forbes rankings. Thus, a presidential campaign could afford a great many bumper stickers, while securing the services of every single former White House aide now peddling their wares as political consultants. And, come to think of it, he could not just buy lots of newspaper endorsements but he could first buy every newspaper. Bloomberg News does not include its big boss in its daily rankings of the planet's propertied class and doesn't cover him much otherwise. (Re/code)
- Covering podcasts
You sure you don't get enough newsletters? Nick Quah, 26, launched one called Hot Pod — a name produced during a drinking session his roommate — and is now departing the Panoply podcast network to try to morph it into an economically sustainable product all about the business of podcasting. (Poynter)
- Mendacious covens of techie wannabes
Randall Rothenberg, a former New York Times and Ad Age advertising columnist, now heads the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the trade association for digital advertising. When a German company called AdBlock-Plus claimed it was disinvited from an IAB gathering this week, Rothenberg went Trump. "'Now, you may be aware of a kerfuffle that began about 10 days ago when an unethical, immoral, mendacious coven of techie wannabes at a for-profit German company called AdBlock-Plus took to the digisphere to complain over and over that IAB had 'disinvited' them to this convention,' he told the gathering. 'That, of course, is as much a lie as the others they routinely try to tell the world.'" (Adweek)
- Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
Elizabeth Graves is now editor in chief for Martha Stewart Living. Previously, she was editor in chief of Martha Stewart Weddings. (WWD) | Emily Shire is now politics editor at Bustle. Previously, she was a reporter and editor at The Daily Beast. (Email) | Stephanie Miller is now managing director of NPR digital services. Previously, she was director of station relations and communications there. (Email) Job of the day: The Houston Chronicle is looking for a law enforcement editor. Get your resumes in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: email@example.com.