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President Trump can now call the Israeli press the enemy, too. Purveyors of fake news. Bad people. Persecuting him. Etc., etc.
No surprise, there was blanket coverage in Israel, with the visit live on three news websites, two TV channels and all over newspaper websites.
As an Israeli journalist put it to me last night, "The overall sense: a circus, a comedy of errors and misjudgments. Visible tension between Trump and Melania...shameless Israeli lawmaker taking a selfie with Trump...Army radio falling for a prank phone call thinking it's Trump on Air Force One...and much more."
Haaretz was perhaps the most revealing in "Melania's slap down and six other awkward moments of Trump visit in Israel."
Their categories included "a husband scorned," "protocol schmotocol" (about Netanyahu and Trump being clueless about where they and wives should stand at the airport), "forget about subtlety" (Israel's education minister trying to extract a statement out of Trump on the status of Jerusalem while in the receiving line) and, my favorite, "birds of a feather."
Yes, cameras overhearing mutual sucking up, with Trump saying that Melania was a big fan of Sara Netanyahu and Sara responding that she just loved Melania and then adding, “The majority of people, unlike the media, love us. So they love you, too. We have very much in common.”
Wrote columnist Chemi Shalev, "Other than his bizarre and unsolicited claim, 'I didn’t mention Israel,' in connection with the intelligence he gave the Russians — which was reminiscent of Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman' — Trump stuck to his script."
Elsewhere, there was ample coverage of Trump's visit to the Western Wall and this on the importance of symbols from the Jerusalem Post's Herb Keinon, the paper's Colorado-born diplomatic correspondent:
"Why, they ask, is Israel pulling out all the stops to welcome a man who is boorish, unpredictable, and — the hyperbolic among them will argue — a threat to America’s democracy? Why? Because he is the elected leader of Israel’s most important ally in the world, and a man whom with this visit is sending a strong signal to Israel’s enemies that the U.S. stands full-square behind it."
"This is what Israel cares about, far more than Trump’s firing of former FBI chief James Comey, or his reportedly telling Comey to 'go easy' on ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn."
Covering the Manchester tragedy
It was as if CNN couldn't pull itself away from its de facto 24/7 Trump coverage. The network can appear an institutional counterpart to the Peter Sellers character in "Dr. Strangelove" who can't help raising his hand in the Nazi salute. It's now all so Pavlovian, so reflexive.
Even as Fox News and MSNBC (good work by Shepard Smith and Brian Williams) were still on Manchester late last evening, replete with TV's inevitable Mount Everest of speculation, CNN had long returned to a mega "special report" backdrop, the now-ceaseless "breaking news" banner and repetitive, if ratings-winning gab on Trump, Comey, Flynn, Mueller, Nixon, obstruction of justice, etc., etc.
At midnight, it returned to the Manchester story, anchored from Los Angeles, and weakly so, nowhere near as sharp as its rivals, most especially Williams and his cadre of strong performers, including NBC's London-based Kelly Cobiella and former FBI official Shawn Henry.
Headline of day
"Ford thinks it can solve its problems by putting a longtime furniture executive in charge." (Recode)
"Cable news ratings upheaval: Maddow and Cooper dominate, Fox slips with rare week at No. 3." (Hollywood Reporter)
Good for MSNBC (Rachel Maddow, cable's top rated show, was heralded as a guest on Stephen Colbert last night). It has now officially survived a period long, long, long ago when I briefly co-hosted a show ("co-host from hell," wrote one awful tabloid TV critic, though I do not remain intensely bitter). And survived successive nights when I improbably went from being initial guest to emergency host when a live feed from an Albanian refugee camp sidelined the real host moments before the opening.
But, again, I do not remain bitter at the brain-dead critic. I'm bigger than that. Here's to higher news ratings in a society where most citizens probably can't name their congressman.
It doesn't get more wrenching
You're a mom diagnosed with incurable cancer and have a 19-year-old mentally ill son whom you just know won't be able to survive without you. So you buy a gun and go to a motel room with him one night and...
Frank Shyong of the Los Angeles Times has crafted a startling and tragic tale. And in a world of journalist self-promotion, it's also a pleasant surprise that he prefers the story to stand without any personal elaboration. Read this if you have 10 minutes today.
"The List: The Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas: Welcome to the golden age of Texas barbecue." (Texas Monthly)
Drip, drip, drip
The decline of McClatchy, a once-thriving newspaper group, continued with layoffs Monday at The Sacramento Bee. (Poynter) It reported a nearly $96 million loss for the first quarter.
Diversity in hiring
Unionists met with New York State legislators about proposed legislation that would use $5 million of $420 million in tax credits for TV production to be allocated based on hiking diversity hiring.
Says Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East: “The television industry has created tens of thousands of jobs for New Yorkers, but women and people of color who write and direct shows remain woefully underrepresented."
"There is an overwhelming consensus that the industry needs more diverse storytellers, and this legislation will show that policy-makers are committed to making concrete progress in this critical area.”
The New York Times' Eric Lipton disclosed a true outrage related to the Trump administration, unearthed with a FOIA request: "The Trump administration, in a significant escalation of its clash with the government’s top ethics watchdog, has moved to block an effort to disclose the names of former lobbyists who have been granted waivers to work in the White House or federal agencies."
This one's not even a close call.
About that airport swat
It was unceasing.
"Melania Trump swatted the president away when he tried to hold her hand." (New York)
"Melania Trump puts prez in no hand-holding zone." (TMZ)
"It was the swat heard ‘round the world." (HuffPost)
Lewinsky on Ailes
Monica Lewinsky, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, looks back at how Fox News rose in prominence amid the Clinton era and writes, "Their dream was my nightmare. My character, my looks and my life were picked apart mercilessly. Truth and fiction mixed at random in the service of higher ratings." (The New York Times)
"My family and I huddled at home, worried about my going to jail — I was the original target of Ken Starr’s investigation, threatened with 27 years for having been accused of signing a false affidavit, obstructing justice, suborning perjury and other crimes — or worse, me taking my own life."
"Meantime, Mr. Ailes huddled with his employees at Fox News, dictating a lineup of talking heads to best exploit this personal and national tragedy."
Buffett's choice of New York tabloid
"The billionaire took out a fine-print ad in the New York Daily News to say he’s seeking permission from the Federal Reserve to hold as much as 25 percent of the credit-card issuer’s shares. The notice appeared alongside listings for a Brooklyn co-op, a $2,500 Honda Accord and a liquor license application, plus a quarter-page ad for a strip joint." (Bloomberg)
Federal regs mandated that you have to declare plan to boost certain stakes in banks “a newspaper of general circulation” in the community where the financial institution is based. As to why The Daily News, he didn't respond to a request for comment, "But, for the famously frugal billionaire, it’s easy to see why the venue might appeal. Classified notices in the paper start at $54."
The Atlantic's takeover ads
The Atlantic's redesign was unveiled with a big so-called takeover ad from Sony. It gobbles up the screen and you have to look at it before you get to editorial content.
"The new ad format is another sign that publishers today are caught in an ad trap: In-your-face ads are coveted by advertisers that demand viewability. The problem, however, is that viewers are quick to click away from a site that loads slowly, jammed with ads, or they just turn on dreaded ad blockers." (Ad Age)
The morning babble
It wasn't just the cable news channels that went to 10 Downing Street at 6 a.m. Eastern as British Prime Minister Theresa May addressed the Manchester attack. In Chicago, at least, all the big local stations did likewise, meaning the ABC-, NBC- ad CBS-owned stations (long before their national network shows, like "Today," came on), as well as the local morning news kingpin, WGN-TV.
"Calm, dignified and steely" she was then called by one MSNBC pundit. Cliched but correct. On "Fox & Friends" they opted for a "slaughter of the innocents" chyron, and insinuation the attack was "Islamic terrorism" (no proof yet) but cut away to Trump and Melania (yes, hand-in-hand) laying a wreath at a Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
CNN's "New Day" was relegated to reporters' impressionist and speculative musings following May's speech. And "Morning Joe" was the first back to its cruise control on alleged Trump influence of the Russia investigation back home, with Mika Brzezinski in the high dudgeon of a self-appointed special prosecutor. There's no doubt in her mind that Trump obstructed the Russian investigation. "I'm not sure why people are afraid to say that."
Well, without seeming like a pedantic killjoy, there are those legal niceties of the system. Like that business of bringing charges and the related one of even crass, meddling, indiscreet, insecure, defensive elected officials being innocent until proven guilty.