Is the media writing off Trump too early (again)?
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Let's see. It's early August, and the press sees the end at hand. "Why Donald Trump’s campaign is like a speeding car with its parts falling off." (The Washington Post) "Is the Trump campaign collapsing?" (The Atlantic) "Trouble in Trump-land?" (Politico) "Trump-world frustrated by their candidate." (CNN)
Want more? "Fox & Friends" this morning conceded it's been "a week of campaign chaos." Yes, Fox! Over at MSNBC, it was "panic mode" across the bottom of the screen. On CNN, "Trump tries to get back on message, targets Clinton." Fox's own poll has him trailing 49-39. There was lots of talk of GOP leaders "staging an intervention" via Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich, among apparent others.
Forget that Trump was written off for months as a joke or that the campaign was seen heading south at multiple times, such as when "Trump, collapsing in polls, fires campaign manager." (NBR) Or, as it was also put on June 20, "Trump fires top aide in an urgent move to reboot his floundering campaign." (The Washington Post) History suggests a slight bit of caution, especially during the first week of August, when millions of seemingly sane Americans aren't glued to cable news or can't likely identify Paul Ryan.
I checked out some Gallup numbers for previous presidential campaigns in August last evening at intermission of a very passable musical, "Newsies":
-In August 1988, Michael Dukakis led George H.W. Bush 49-42, only to lose by 53-46.
-In 1992, Bill Clinton led Bush 52-42, ultimately winning a three-man race over him 43-37.
-In 1996, Clinton led Bob Dole 51-34, winning 49-41.
-In 2000, George W. Bush led Al Gore by a tad, ultimately losing the popular vote though winning the disputed election.
-In 2004, he led John Kerry 48-46, then winning 51-48.
-In 2008, Barack Obama led John McCain 50-42, winning 53-47.
-In 2012, he led Mitt Romney by just 47-46, winning 51-47.
Polls now suggest a strong Hillary Clinton lead. In sum, anything could happen.
Roger Simon, the chief political columnist for Politico, says, "Those who say the media are making too much of what is happening with Trump may have a point. Maybe it is only political junkies like political journalists who determine what gets on the nightly news and in the papers and all of it is fed by the internet (i.e. the electronic back porch or the electronic water cooler)."
"...But the velocity at which the political-media structure has moved this cycle has been pretty awesome. And so much of it is driven by what Trump decides to get up and say from speech to speech, something he may give little thought to."
The steady drip of layoffs
A trio of news organizations announced or otherwise acknowledged the possibility of job cuts Wednesday. At Time Inc, the storied magazine publisher that recently reorganized its editorial and business structures, job cuts were expected to exceed 100. (CNN Money) In a memo to staffers Wednesday, Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory conceded that "a small number of layoffs" might be on the horizon for the newspaper. (WGBH) And at Oahu Publications, the publisher of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, a small number of job cuts were followed by voluntary buyouts. (Civil Beat)
The Murdoch boys apparently won't mess with Fox News
The handiwork of departed Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes is a money machine, with one consultant estimating $1.5 billion in profit last year. Some of that change will go to the New York law firm conducting an investigation stemming from Gretchen Carlson's allegations of sexual harassment by Ailes.
Then there's word that "investigators looking into sexual harassment accusations against the former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes are also examining whether other executives knew of alleged improper behavior by Mr. Ailes and failed to act on it, people briefed on the inquiry said on Wednesday." (The New York Times)
This should assure sky-high billable hours for the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, which may suffer exhaustion after interviewing all those who may well know bits and pieces of the story. Heck, New York magazine just interviewed a former Ailes subordinate about her primary task of servicing Ailes and now seemingly violating a confidentiality agreement tied to a $3.15 million settlement with the company. (New York)
It's likely there were a few people around who knew the how and why of that largesse.
The company previously known as Tribune Publishing had its quarterly earnings call Wednesday. When it came to the digital side, it reported an increase of 15,000 digital-only subscriptions, bringing its companywide total to 116,000, which includes readers at the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Hartford Courant and newspapers in Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale. By comparison, The New York Times added 55,000 in the second quarter and has a total of more than 1.2 million. (Poynter)
The earnings report was otherwise uneventful, although it did illustrate how Tronc intends to divide its digital initiatives from its print ones and, according to media analyst Ken Doctor, portray a company battling the same problems as the industry writ large. (Nieman Lab)
Mika Brzezinski was in a lather this morning on "Morning Joe" over Trump, finding inspiration for rage in columnist Ross Douthat's "Paul Ryan's Long, Hot Summer." She read much of it aloud as if it was the tablets of stone inscribed with the 10 Commandments from Mount Sinai given by the Lord to Moses. (The New York Times)
Low-key pundit Mark Halperin noted that Trump won the nomination fair and square. "I hate politics," said Brzezinski, co-host of a national TV show largely about politics. Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele responded "I understand your passion." But Ryan is the Speaker of the House, counterbalancing those 13 and half million votes Trump got. "Republicans across the process whining and complaining, I can only ask why you didn't solidify behind another candidate."
"I guess I'm incredibly naive," Brzezinski then said in an attempt at facetious self-assessment. "If you're driving a car in flames, my choice is to get out of that car. It seems pretty simple. But I guess people like driving cars that are on fire that are going to drive our country into the ground."
Did Melania Trump bare more than we knew?
If you missed it over the weekend, The New York Post ran old nude photos of Melania Trump. This morning comes this: "Nude photographs published this week are raising fresh questions about the accuracy of a key aspect of Melania Trump’s biography: her immigration status when she first came to the United States to work as a model." (Politico)
Who cares if you're losing hundreds of millions a year?
"After months of talks, Time Warner is buying a chunk of Hulu, the web TV service. The deal means Time Warner will be partners with existing owners Disney, 21st Century Fox and Comcast’s NBCUniversal, and that Time Warner’s channels like Turner and CNN will be part of a new pay TV service Hulu wants to launch next year." (Recode)
It's buying a 10 percent stake by putting in $583 million, which means it values the company at $5.8 billion even though "industry sources estimate is losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year."
Haven't read Town & Country in a while?
Check out "Who Was Carolyn Bessette Kennedy? Twenty years after her iconic wedding, the woman who married John F. Kennedy Jr. remains a one-woman fashion cult—and an enigma." (Town & Country)
It's a nice effort that reminds how, "In the pages of the city tabloids during those few short years, she was a daily soap opera, forced into the multitude of unforgiving tropes for public women. The scheming girlfriend; the coked-up vixen; the miserable spouse. So obsessive was the coverage that I recall one tabloid splitting its front page between the day's top news story and picture of her scooping up the couple's dog Friday's poop from the sidewalk."
The more things change...
In 1995, The (Raleigh, North Carolina) News & Observer produced a knockout nine-part series on the mess that was the pork industry in the state. The handiwork of Melanie Still, Pat Stith and Joby Warrick, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service the next year. (The Pulitzer Prizes)
Well, some industries just don't learn, as one is reminded in a new Chicago Tribune series, the work of investigative ace David Jackson: "The price of pork: Cheap meat comes at high cost in Illinois." As in North Carolina way back when, the industry is booming but the cheap pork it's producing "comes at a harsh and until now unmeasured cost." (Chicago Tribune)
The problem exists elsewhere, as made clear in a June 21 Des Moines Register editorial that declared, "Iowa’s environment is a disgrace." (The Des Moines Register)
Fact-checking out West
Led by PolitiFact, there are more and more state and local fact-checking operations. "But the local competition may be most intense in California, where politicians can expect scrutiny from three different news organizations: The Sacramento Bee, Voice of San Diego and Capital Public Radio in Sacramento." (Reporters' Lab)
A trip to Arlington
Robin Wright, a great overseas reporter and Washington-based foreign affairs analyst, disclosed on her Facebook page that she'd organized a trek with friends to Arlington National Cemetery "to pay our respects at the grave of Humayun Khan, the Muslim soldier who died in Iraq. (His parents spoke at the recent convention.)"
She wrote of a moving gathering in which one friend sang "Amazing Grace" a cappella, two said the the Muslim prayer for the dead, two placed stones atop the grave in honor of Jewish tradition and still another left an origami bird of peace. "I left a letter for his parents. One of my friends had served in the military. He told us all, 'When you are at the grave of this fallen soldier, think what you have done lately to deserve his sacrifice.' Not enough, for sure."
Correction: A previous version of this newsletter referred to "New Gingrich." The former Speaker of the House is Newt Gingrich. A previous version of this story also incorrectly referenced the amount a former Fox News employee is receiving from the network. It is $3.15 million, not $3.15.