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Tom Friedman, The New York Times columnist and international brand, can't get enough of the Hillary Clinton found in WikiLeaks.
"I love WikiHillary," he told a Chicago audience last night at a fundraiser for the Chicago Humanities Festival following a public appearance at a big church, which prompted him to scan a large assemblage and crack, "A Jewish kid from Minnesota at a packed Presbyterian church. Only in America."
His ostensible topic was an upcoming book, "Thank You For Being Late," about the speed of change. But, in passing at the subsequent dinner, he alluded to recent email dumps that have had folks on the left and right fuming at Clinton, albeit for different reasons.
Friedman, the often aggressive pragmatist, finds 'WikiHillary' "so much more interesting than the campaign Hillary." She strikes him in the emails as a "mature center-left politician."
I said hi when the shebang was over and brought up the notion, which he plans to detail in a Wednesday column, about what this more alluring Clinton lost in a hyperventilating media's search for purported hard news.
"Yes," he said. "I love it. She likes Simpson-Bowles," referring to the bipartisan plan for deficit reduction that's gone nowhere sadly, and "she's willing to compromise!" Well, there's more to come tomorrow (in his column, if not via Julian Assange).
Finally, a newspaper endorsement for Trump
If you take America's 100 largest papers, the endorsement total so far remains at 43 for Clinton, three for Libertarian Gary Johnson and zero for Donald Trump. But now Trump can boast the backing of the 26,000-circulation St. Joseph (Missouri) News-Press.
It's gotten some initial negative feedback but is trying to keep unhappy subscribers back in the fold. (Poynter)
Did newspapers blow it?
"What if almost the entire newspaper industry got it wrong? What if, in the mad dash two decades ago to repurpose and extend editorial content onto the Web, editors and publishers made a colossal business blunder that wasted hundreds of millions of dollars? What if the industry should have stuck with its strengths — the print editions where the vast majority of their readers still reside and where the overwhelming majority of advertising and subscription revenue come from — instead of chasing the online chimera?" (Politico)
Why Tim Kaine isn't a journalist
From Evan Osnos' terrific profile of the Clinton running mate: "He went to the University of Missouri, intending to study journalism, but young reporters, he discovered, were 'a very cynical lot,' and he switched to economics." (The New Yorker)
Drudge and Limbaugh, duped
"Just when you thought 2016 couldn’t get any stupider, a Twitter user who describes himself as 'the cool and chill guy of online' inadvertently punked two of the most powerful figures in conservative media." (The Daily Beast) Yes, both The Drudge Report and Rush Limbaugh went for a tweeted scam about a guy working at a Columbus, Ohio post office and ripping up Trump absentee ballots. Those who live by social media occasionally get screwed by it.
Why Trump TV would be a loser
"Obvious truth: When Donald Trump loses the presidential election, he will start his own Trump TV network. Educated guess: Trump TV will fail." (Recode)
"Trump BFF Sean Hannity, who had an extensive background in radio before he broke big on Fox, has a much better shot of making this work (Beck had the same resume). But Trump can’t hope to start a network with his name and then substitute other celebrities for himself: He’s going to have to do the work, and he’s going to have to show up."
The Silicon Valley suck-up
"Silicon Valley cozies up to Washington, outspending Wall Street 2-1." It's a good job this morning by Bloomberg, detailing the giant increase in tech spending in the capital.
Get this: "On the personnel front, the Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit group, studied the to-and-fro between government and Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc. It found that 183 people who worked under President Barack Obama through last year were hired by Google, while 58 headed the other way." (Bloomberg)
In Ben Brantley's New York Times review of a revival of Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" with Diane Lane: "Toward the welcome end of the Roundabout Theater Company’s terminally confused production of Chekhov’s 'The Cherry Orchard,' a character who has just exhausted himself by dancing like James Brown on steroids laments, 'Oh, if only we could move faster through this next part.'"
"Now, if you’re the sort of person who conducts conversations in your head with a play’s characters — and even if you usually don’t, this show may well drive you to such forms of self-entertainment — you are likely to have two responses to this tired man’s plea. The most obvious is: 'No, kidding, bud. The sooner we’re all out of here the better.'" (The New York Times)
An idea for Chris Wallace
A question for the debate he moderates tomorrow night: "If elected president, will you get Bob Dylan to return the calls and emails of the Swedish Academy, which says 'it has given up to trying to reach him about his Nobel and whether he'll show at the ceremony on Dec. 10?" (The Guardian)
A bare bottom
ESPN ombudsman Jim Brady says running a picture of Conor McGregor’s "naked rear end on the main page of its website prompted a spirited debate among readers." He maintained that "the photo, while aesthetically beautiful, should not have been dropped into the center of ESPN’s digital town square. In the Body Issue section? Sure. In a photo gallery with a nudity warning at the beginning? Absolutely. I just didn’t think it should have been in a place where any visitor to ESPN.com had no viable way to avoid it." Readers called him "a prude, an old man and uncool." (ESPN)
Ben Affleck's accountant
It was obvious but fun for The Ringer to seek out an accountant to give his take on "The Accountant." They got some stuff right — but an accountant with extensive combat training?
"But out of all of The Accountant’s litany of implausibilities, the toughest one to negotiate is probably its decision to let Ben Affleck’s accountant go full Jason Bourne. It’s just not necessary. Like: My dude is already a buff genius math wizard with movie-star looks and a Midwestern disposition. Did we really also need to give him a combat fighter rating of 'Deadshot x Wolverine?'" (The Ringer)
The "most patient man on television"
John Oliver's HBO show on Sunday did a brief feature, "The most patient man on television endures the American public." ("Last Week Tonight") It was a montage of my chum Steve Scully, longtime politics chief and show host on C-SPAN, doing his thing. That means trying to sit there with the U.S. Capitol behind you wearing a poker face, as if you're shot through with elephant tranquilizer, as every idiot known to man calls in with racist, conspiratorial, media-bashing, Washington-deriding, homophobic, anti-Semitic questions before you ditch the call to say, "Harold in Daytona Beach, you're next on The Independent line."
Scully is a Medill graduate but, like most C-SPAN show hosts, has a graduate degree from the Brian Lamb School of Deadpan Inquisition at Purdue University (actual home of C-SPAN's archives). It's a placid mode so out sync with these provocation-mandated media times. Thank goodness for C-SPAN, if not some of their wacko viewers.
The morning babble
"'Quid pro quo' bombshell: FBI documents reveal alleged email cover-up," said "Fox & Friends" about what The New York Times calls "intense disagreement last year between the State Department and the F.B.I over whether some of Mrs. Clinton's emails should be considered classified, including a discussion of a possible 'quid pro quo' to settle one dispute."
"Morning Joe" was polls, polls, polls, polls (meaning reactive, reactive, reactive with punditry, not much reporting) Joe Scarborough opined that "media coverage is so one-sided against Donald Trump it makes a lot of people who loathe Donald Trump push away form supporting Hillary Clinton. "I'm hearing it wherever I go....The press is weighing in so heavily here, I don't know if the coverage might have a small effect backfiring,backfiring in a way that feeds right into Donald Trump's narrative.
CNN's "New Day" replayed a chunk of Anderson Cooper's interview with Melania TrumpChris Cuomo said it's all a track bag for Trump, even if allegations aren't true. He wants to deny every he said/she said accusation but "there will be are recoil" from voters if he badmouths the women. He called it "the Cosby defense." "It's very Cosby-esque," agreed his co-host Alisyn Camerota.
Fortunately, they segued from this inherently untidy topic to something easier to understand and rather more important, even if of tragically scant public interest: the battle with ISIS for Mosul. Yes, actual news via an actual paid correspondent on the scene amid the morning bloviating back at everybody's Manhattan studios.