While the media obsesses over the election, Twitter chatters about baseball
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West Coast and East Coast hipsters — and Donald Trump — take note: The Third Coast is sizzling on Twitter. "The sports Twitter-verse is securely on the Cubs bandwagon. That much is clear from the latest data from market research firm Nielsen, which show that Cubs games accounted for five of the 10 most tweeted-about sporting events on national TV over the past week." (Crain's)
Beyond an understandable press fixation with the presidential campaign, it's a reminder that it's the summer and a lot of folks have other things on their minds.
If you're not a fan, be apprised that ESPN broadcast a Cubs-Seattle Mariners game Sunday night. The Cubs were down 6-0 but came back to win in extra innings as, in a true oddity, a pitcher pinch hit for a pitcher and won the game with an unexpected bunt. That so-called squeeze bunt "helped put the game in the top spot, with 108,000 game-related tweets posted during the game, according to Nielsen."
The minute after the bunt "was also the most tweeted-about moment of the week for a sporting event, with Nielsen reporting 4,700 game-related tweets sent at 11:28 p.m."
It's early August, and, politics echo chamber aside, a lot of folks still aren't hyperventilating over the campaign. A bit of a further reality check on Donald Trump's unseemly spat with the Khan family: "In more than a dozen interviews at two Trump rallies this week, many voters were not even aware of the controversy." (The Guardian) And the Summer Olympics open Friday in Rio.
Why are so many interviews with him so utterly unsatisfying? What's the deal? Should one fight fire with fire and do one's best Chris Matthews imitation, cutting the guy short and putting him on the defensive, out-Trumping Trump?
I asked an array of folks, ranging from A-list journalists Steve Brill, John Harwood and Carol Marin to dramatist Harvey Young. The takeaway: It's partly a function of Trump's mastery of deflection but also some real miscues by many reporters in dealing with his penchant for the dishonest. It's a reality, says Brill, that recalls his own interviewing of New Jersey mobster Anthony Provenzano for Brill's 1978 book on the Teamsters Union: "Not even Tony Provenzano directly lied." (Poynter)
Will Gannett make another pass at Tronc?
After its bid to take over Tronc — then Tribune Publishing — was thwarted by company executives and chairman Michael Ferro earlier this year, Gannett is rumored to be readying for another run at the storied newspaper company, according to Politico's Ken Doctor. "That’s the first point of intrigue: Growing whispers of Gannett readying its next bid this week. Given that both companies — Tronc and Gannett — have competed for leverage as much in the public sphere as in the boardroom, the timing of such a bid will be one to watch." (Politico)
Paul Ryan and Harambe
"According to a new poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, Harambe the silverback gorilla (RIP) is polling at 5 percent in the 2016 presidential race." (Uproxx) So on Monday night, "at exactly 10:23 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted at Barstool Sports writer Dan Katz that '1 in 20 want to see Harambe in the Oval Office.'" (Gawker) Oh, "Several minutes later, the tweet was gone, leaving one nagging question its wake: Why did Paul Ryan delete his only good tweet?"
Tear down the walls?
In 2012, The New York Times took down its paywall so folks could look at election coverage for free for the 24 hours before the presidential vote. The Wall Street Journal did the same for Election Night. Some suggest it's all part of a good idea to present folks political coverage of a huge event. (Poynter) It's not. It's taking your most important content and giving it away for free. It's a huge mistake newspapers have made for too long and partly explains why, for most of them, now charging folks is a challenge.
The fashion moguls
A great piece of fashion business journalism informs, "Clothes, and especially cheap clothes have turned out to be a surprisingly good route for many of the richest people and families on the planet. Stefan Persson, chairman of H&M and a member of the family that owns the label, is Sweden’s richest person, holding an estimated fortune of $20.2 billion as of Aug. 1, according to Forbes. You might suspect Japan’s richest person would own an electronics or automotive company, but it’s Tadashi Yanai, founder of Fast Retailing Co., which makes more than 80% (pdf, p. 16) of its sales from Uniqlo." (Quartz) There are many more examples.
The morning gabfests: Trump on a wire
Meg Whitman, the Republican Hewlett-Packard executive who ran for California governor, will endorse Hillary Clinton. (The New York Times) The decision was one of several Trump-related topics that spurred somewhat of an on-air political-emotional counseling session on "Morning Joe" today as co-host Mika Brzezinski urged House Speaker Paul Ryan to yank his endorsement.
Turning to show paterfamilias Joe Scarborough, she said about Ryan, "Be a leader, that is what you're supposed to be. Am I wrong? Am I overstating it? I think they are ruining the party." Counselor Joe said about Ryan and his elite GOP ilk, "They are ruining their careers, they are damaging the party and doing it for a guy who was a Democrat for 65 years of his life."
There was a bit less melodrama over at CNN, where David Gregory opined about the latest Trump kerfuffles amid chyrons that declared, "FEUD INTENSIFIES BETWEEN TRUMP AND GOLD STAR FATHER...TRUMP JOKES THAT HE'S 'ALWAYS WANTED' A PURPLE HEART."
On "Fox & Friends," you could have found a de facto infomercial for a new book by Nike founder Phil Knight, who discussed the use of a waffle iron in creating early shoes. Brian Kilmeade showed off a special running shoe Nike gave him, replete with references on the shoe to his life, college, where he's worked, names of his kids and family. He did say he'd cleared acceptance through the Fox legal department, which presumably has been busy of late on more pressing personnel issues.
Fashion bulletin (on background)
Nikki Schwab of The Daily Mail last night had so-called pool duty at the White House state dinner for the prime minister of Singapore. Among the dispatches was this: "On background from a White House Official, the First Lady is wearing an ivory-colored dress designed by Brandon Maxwell." (Public Pool) That's on background?
Topolsky's media theory
Joshua Topolsky, who left as Bloomberg's chief digital content officer amid frictions with the boss, has raised $5 million to start The Outline. "Mr. Topolsky is touting The Outline as something of the antidote to a rising crop of digital media brands that are reliant on social media distribution and, in his mind, are too focused on reaching massive user totals." (The Wall Street Journal)
He wants to reach at least 10 million users who'd come directly to a site that aims to focus on "power," culture and "the future" via 15 to 20 pieces a day. How he surmounts the reality of advertisers liking bigger audiences is unclear. He's hired 10 folks so far with alumni from BuzzFeed, Talking Points Memo and Motherboard, among others. (Recode)
Bill Simmons' new show
"Any Given Wednesday" is his much-publicized new HBO offering and, by one account, it's just been too reflective of the host's Boston background, including a mock trial over "Deflategate," the controversy over superstar Tom Brady's footballs.
Yes, it's a big hit on NESN, New England's regional sports network, but not nationally, certainly not yet. "Bill Simmons has a lot to think about when it comes to improving 'Any Given Wednesday,' but there’s one decision critical to the show’s future that he needs to make immediately. Does he want to live in the universe where he’s the beloved host of a late night talk show on NESN, speaking truth to the good people of Boston and becoming their dark knight? Or does he want this national show, aimed at reaching a general sports and entertainment audience, to be successful?" (Awful Announcing)
Get the extra virgin olive oil ready
The White House press corps was consumed by President Obama's latest slashing remarks about Donald Trump. But you could find that stuff anywhere! Here was real news you can use from Kate Bennett of The Political Edit: "A source tells me this will not be the last State Dinner of the Obama White House, so if you didn't get invited to tonight's Singapore bash, there's still a chance to score a State Dinner seat. Rumor has it Italy will be feted in the next several months with an extravagant Italian feast led by celebrity chef Mario Batali."
Cashing in on the campaign
"Local newscasts across the nation have already reaped an estimated $279 million in revenue from political ads since Jan. 1, or about 40 percent of the money spent on ads across broadcast and national cable television." (Bloomberg) It partly explains why Tribune Media's 42 stations have added 170 hours a week of local news in the past three years — for example, its Fox affiliate in Cleveland added a half hour at four in the morning — for a total of more than 80,000 hours annually companywide. Despite the seemingly inevitable downturn of local TV, political ad revenues are up 20 percent or more for stations compared to the 2012 campaign.
Fred from Aberdeen, you're on the air!
Seth Sawyers pens a very droll take-off on sports talk radio in McSweeney's, titled "Sports talk radio callers address local baseball team's pitching deficiency at the trade deadline." It's long, but here's a snippet of what can be the confounding idiocy facing talk hosts:
HOST: OK, next caller. Fred from Aberdeen. Talk some sense to me, buddy.
FRED FROM ABERDEEN: Why don’t we send some boys out to Chicago, drug that good pitcher they got, and put him in a truck back to Baltimore?
HOST: Um, OK. We’re talking felonies now. Next caller...(McSweeeney's)