Donald Trump banned The Washington Post. Should Seth Meyers ban Trump?
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He returns fire on Trump press snub
So Seth Meyers has "banned" Donald Trump from his show for yanking the credentials of The Washington Post to cover his events. Trump pulled others previously, but Meyers was moved to his theatrical indignation by The Post decision. “As long as The Washington Post is banned from Donald Trump’s campaign, Donald Trump will be banned from ever coming on this show,” Meyers said. (Deadline) Later, he conceded, “To be fair he wasn’t coming on anyway, let’s be honest. He isn’t interested in being here.”
And if he were? Let's presume Meyers would stick to his guns in our new post-Orlando world. It's interesting how a corporate brother of NBC News and MSNBC would so willingly engage in a form of censorship. And, come to think of it, he's a comedian. More than most others in the labor force, a comic might be mindful of the perils of censorship. Maybe he should check out video of George Carlin's fabled seven dirty words monologue from 1972. (YouTube) Or the history of Lenny Bruce, a hero to many standup comics, being hassled by cops, including his 1964 arrest for using profanity. (First Amendment Center)
Censorship or not? "I'm a bit conflicted," says Matthew Baum, a Harvard political scientist and mass communications observer. "I don't know that late-night comedy shows owe him free coverage either, regardless of his stand on press freedom-related issues. If a comedian decides they don't want to give Trump a forum for disparaging Mexican-Americans or Muslims/Muslim-Americans, I don't know whether or not that is censorship. It depends, I suppose, on whether one treats these outlets as having journalistic responsibilities. Are they 'the press' or merely entertainment?"
Geoffrey Stone, a prominent University of Chicago law professor and civil liberties proponent, says, "A talk show host is free to invite whomever he pleases. There is no free speech element to this question. In the same way that The New York Times doesn't have to invite Trump to write an op-ed. It can do it if it wants to, but it's under no obligation."
It still arguably looks lousy even as some defenders say those late-night shows are essentially the "toy department." Of course, many of those same folks may quote serious bits from late night shows, as CNN's "New Day" did this morning with a Jimmy Fallon "Tonight" riff last night on guns. The hosts are now deemed Serious Social Commentators. But even as some suggest we make no more of a Meyers "ban" of Trump than if the same happened with him on "Law and Order SVU," "The Voice" or "Chicago Fire," somebody might remind Meyers of how Bruce was hauled in by the cops. Be a bit more sensitive to the same free speech principles that helped make you a wealthy young comic.
Once again, media calls for gun control
The pattern is unceasing. There's a mass shooting, quickie polling suggesting increased concern with guns and then the related and fervent, if at times banal speculation about a tide turning. Talk of specific legislative changes. There are editorials like this morning in The New York Times, "The N.R.A.'s Complicity in Terrorism" (The New York Times) Now we even have the claim that Republicans may be changing their ways and that Donald Trump himself may be a key player. (The Washington Post)
Don't bet on it even as the likes of CNN's Chris Cuomo were chiding the NRA this morning on "New Day," in the process raising doubts about both Trump and Hillary Clinton's initial responses. Danny Hayes, a George Washington political scientist, has studied the media and such shootings. Every time I've tracked him down after such a mess, he reminds me of the cycle that repeats itself: Calls for gun control, intense media focus for a few days and, then, zilch legislatively. Yes, there's the potency of the NRA. But there's also the impotence and lack of cohesion of gun control advocates. So just await repetition of what he calls the "issue-attention cycle." (Poynter)
How ABC covered shooting, China theme park opening
So you had Disney juggling the heralding of its new Shanghai Disneyland theme park while subsidiary ABC reported on the alligator-related death of the little boy at Walt Disney World. When asked about the coverage of the boy's death in Orlando, an ABC News spokeswoman said, "The mandate was clear — cover this story like we would any other: straight down the middle." (CNN) ABC's "Good Morning America" not only covered the alligator tale at length yesterday but "didn't mention Shanghai at all." And its evening news broadcast twice disclosed the network's corporate links as it led with the alligator story. Fine. But, as Brian Stelter notes, "On the news division's website, both stories were prominent on Wednesday. One feature was a virtual reality tour of the new resort."
Hacker releases supposed Trump "oppo" research
"An online vandal using the name “Guccifer 2.0” has claimed credit for the recent hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s servers and has provided The Smoking Gun with documents stolen during the illegal operation, including a 237-page opposition research report on Donald Trump." (The Smoking Gun) The Trump file is reportedly dated Dec. 19, 2015 and opens, "One thing is clear about Donald Trump, there is only one person he has ever looked out for, and that’s himself. Whether it’s American workers, the Republican Party, or his wives, Trump’s only fidelity has been to himself and with that he has shown that he has no problem lying to the American people. Trump will say anything and do anything to get what he wants without regard for those he harms.” In case you hadn't picked up on that reality.
Employees, remember, watch Fox News
Liz Uihlein, the president of the big Midwest industrial firm and political power broker (notably in Illinois), sends out lots of memos to employees. A recent one makes mention that when she and husband, Dick, watch TV, "the channel is mostly set on Fox News." A surprise? Perhaps that's in sync with a flurry of company memos to workers that reflect the couple's "free market absolutism, loathing for government programs, and cheerleading for right wing propaganda." (Gawker)
CONGRATULATIONS! Now, take this Kaopectate
"The Oregonian has begun rebuilding its staff — it welcomed three new reporters in the past couple of weeks — and newsroom morale after years of buyouts." (Willamette Week) Well, there's a bit of an exception. A cake-and-coffee gathering to recognize outstanding staff performance has prompted this news: the "Multnomah County Health Department is now investigating a potential norovirus outbreak after at least 14 people came down with stomach pain and severe diarrhea after the event."
Sebastian Gorka, a conservative counterterrorism observer, is a Fox favorite of late, a brooding presence in sync with the network belief that the Obama administration is to blame for virtually all ills short of typhoons in the Philippines. "Wherever you look, the world is on fire," he said with characteristic understatement last night on "Hannity," a pro bono arm of the Trump campaign. And when it comes to the Democratic Party, "reality has been kidnapped by the Alinskyites. For them it's just the cause. You say whatever you like as long as you can maintain power." How many Fox viewers got that slighting reference to "Alinskyites"? That's Saul Alinsky, a founder of modern community organizing who died in 1972.
Another window onto decline of TV news
Worldwide, the reliance on online news video remains a distinctly minority behavior, says a report from Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. (Reuters Institute) And for "every group under the age of 45, in all the countries surveyed, online news is now more important than television news. Drilling down on types of online news a bit: 51 percent of those surveyed use social media as a source of news each week, while 12 percent of all surveyed say it’s their main source. And among 18-to 24-year-olds, social media alone edged out TV as the 'main' news source (28 percent to 24 percent). Print came in at a lowly 6 percent for that group and at just 12 percent for those 55 and older." (Nieman Lab) And "a meager 9 percent of U.S. respondents, for instance, paid for any online news in the past year."
Anderson Cooper and Florida's A.G
Cooper took Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to the cleaners in a Tuesday interview about the Orlando massacre and her dubious track record on gay, lesbian and transgender rights. Realizing her anemic performance, she hit back at him Wednesday, prompting him to respond. “Let's be real here. Ms. Bondi’s big complaint seems to be that I asked in the wake of a massacre of gay and lesbian citizens about her new statements about the gay community and about her old ones. For the record, my interview was not filled with any anger. I was respectful before the interview, I was respectful during the interview, and I was respectful after the interview.” (The Daily Beast) Yup.
Does nobody really want Gawker's site?
"Gawker founder and CEO Nick Denton says that in spite of last week's bankruptcy filing, things are just fine at Gawker Media. And even though most of the Gawker brands are expected to survive (and in Denton’s view, flourish in spite of) the company’s imminent sale, Denton acknowledges that a buyer might not want the flagship Gawker.com site." (Recode) But he pledges that the site will endure, somehow.
Analyzing public bathroom masturbation
You missed the New York Post tale, “Great Balls of Sire: NY prof donates free sperm in public restrooms — has 22 kids and counting!”? What? "Never has a subject been more deserving of New York Post coverage than Ari Nagel, the Brooklyn man who graced the cover of the tabloid over the weekend." (Slate) "All credit goes to the Post for finding a man who was willing, nay, proud to talk about how he regularly masturbates in public restrooms in order to give sperm to needy women and couples." My favorite analysis goes to the director of one fertility clinic who told Slate, “'There are definitely hygiene issues to be concerned about'... And one wonders whose idea the Softcup (a menstrual cup into which the guy ejaculates) was. It’s one of the only menstrual cups that is worn high in the vagina, just below the cervix, and women can have sex while wearing it. But no, it is not necessarily a safe or advisable way to transport sperm, Zapantis said. 'I don’t even know if that’s a sterile cup,' he said." Neither do I.
"Red-wine bigots," be warned!
Joe Appel, the wine buyer at Rosemont Market in Portland, Maine penned a column with this headline for the local paper: "Top 5 whites to throw in red-wine bigots’ faces." (Press Herald) Ah, OK. They are André et Michel Quenard Chignin 2015 ($18), Vinicola del Sannio Coda di Volpe 2014 ($12), Dancing Coyote Grüner Veltliner 2015 ($16), Albet i Noya Xarel-lo 2015 ($12) and Domaine de la Solitude Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc 2014 ($16). And a man of obvious principle underscores, "I’ll reiterate: I’m not talking about 'summer' whites. I’m talking about whites with the stuffing and textural complexity to compel interest."
"Morning Joe" is turning into "Mourning Joe," with the ongoing anti-Trump conversion of Joe Scarborough. This morning there were lots of polls to make a case for Trump heading south (though this is the middle of June, folks) and perhaps taking some Republicans down with him. For example, in Wisconsin, a re-run between Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and Democrat Russ Feingold, who held the seat but was vanquished by Johnson last time, shows Feingold ahead. Trump may be somehow on the way to "throwing this election," said Scarborough, whose own turnabout is head-turning. Ditto co-host Mika Brzezinski, who said Trump loves polls and "should read them aloud these days," especially those showing dismal favorability ratings for the Republican Party. They noted the first anniversary of the Trump campaign as Scarborough claimed Trump's been on a "month-long political bender." Where was Joe just a month or two ago himself? It's the same Trump.