John Dickerson’s alleged sin: discretion
Good morning. Here's our morning roundup of all the media news you need to know. Want to get this briefing in your inbox every morning? Subscribe here.
Shame on John Dickerson, the host of CBS' "Face the Nation." He is refusing to give us his every thought on every political event, figure or rumor. He's grievously out of step.
These days, it's insufficient to be a good print journalist and writer-turned-TV host. There's the need to self-promote and "engage" the audience, even if filled with lame brains.
He's now chided for discretion in a world where journalists seamlessly segue from self-regarding tweets on Donald Trump, the baseball game they're watching or perhaps the dinner they're eating.
"John Dickerson Silent on Profane, Gay-Baiting Attack," proclaimed The Drudge Report.
The source of that headline is The Gateway Pundit, a site unhappy with Stephen Colbert's shot at President Trump for referring to "Deface the Nation" during a Dickerson interview last week. The session was more notable for Trump curtly ending things as Dickerson pressed about his claims of his predecessor wiretapping him.
(Disclosure: Dickerson is a member of Poynter's National Advisory Board.)
It wrote, "Colbert called his defense of Dickerson 'The Tiffany Way,’ a reference to CBS branding itself ‘The Tiffany Network’ in TV’s Golden Age. Colbert wound up (in) a rant against Trump by saying, 'You talk like a sign-language gorilla that got hit in the head. In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster.'”
The Gateway Pundit and Drudge seem unhappy that Dickerson didn't tweet criticism of Colbert. Stupidity can be countenanced in our world. But silence? It confuses the enemies (and cable TV bookers). Heck, they offered a screechy debate over Colbert on "Fox & Friends" this morning.
But I've found nothing of late from Dickerson about child molestation, state executions in Arkansas, famine in Africa, homicides in Chicago, flash flooding in the Carolinas or racial insults at Fenway Park. Surely, he must have strong opinions on everything since, well, so many of his professional colleague do.
The Gateway Pundit's Kristinn Taylor tweeted Dickerson's way, "I’ve not seen any comment from you on Stephen Colbert’s profane, gay-baiting, Trump trashing defense of you? Approve it or not?”
He didn't respond. Keeping his own counsel, I guess. Sort of like he didn't say much about the president cutting off an interview last week after he pressed Trump on those wiretapping claims. How unworthy of our clickbait universe.
"While Stephen Colbert has every right to express his opinion in defense of John Dickerson, Colbert is responsible for the words he chooses to use to do this," says Jeff Seglin, an ethics and policy expert at Harvard's Kennedy School.
"Just as it is Colbert’s decision what, if anything, to say, it seems reasonable for Dickerson to decide not to engage in the reaction to Colbert’s words that have ensued."
"Silence does not suggest condoning something. Failing to respond to everyone who wants to pick a Twitter war doesn’t equate to unethical behavior. Wasn’t it Falstaff whom Shakespeare had say that discretion is the better part of valor?"
Helpful headline of the day
"What to do if your Google account was phished in today’s ‘Google Docs’ attack: Revoke access immediately." (Recode)
Medill, the esteemed journalism school at Northwestern University, will no longer submit to a once-every-six-years accreditation process from AEJMC, as do most of its peer journalism schools and about 125 schools in all.
Brad Hamm, the dean (and a former Poynter National Advisory Board member), has a slew of reasons he doesn't like the process. The accrediting group, which includes some bigtime editors and fellow deans, doesn't buy his reasons. And Hamm thinks the group's very sharp critique of him, disclosed yesterday, is itself unfair.
Is it possible that the lack of traditional accreditation will negatively impacts students and turn off parents or prospective employers. Will there be any bandwagon impact? In a decorous world, it's quite the pissing match. (Poynter)
Murdoch's reason to pursue Tribune
Bids are due for Tribune Media, whose 42 stations include big ones in all the major markets. Why is Rupert Murdoch interested?
"The proposal, with funding from Blackstone Group LP, would help Fox prevent Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. from buying Tribune and gaining bargaining power by owning 28 percent of the nation’s Fox affiliate stations. It would also help Fox reduce its debt and obtain an infusion of cash that could surpass $1 billion." (Bloomberg)
The dark horse is Dallas-based Nexstar.
Question of the day
"How much is a rock star’s Manhattan condo worth after nine years of ownership? For Sting, the answer is more than double its original price." (Bloomberg)
"The former lead singer for the Police and his wife, actress and producer Trudie Styler, just listed their duplex penthouse at 15 Central Park West for $56 million, more than twice its $27 million purchase price in 2008. The floor plan of the 5,417-square-foot (503-square-meter) apartment was custom-designed for the musician, who bought it while the building was still under construction, according to property listings and public records."
Footnote to a Boston mess
The media has been all over the slurs hurled at Fenway Park at Baltimore Oriole star Adam Jones, which prompted profuse apologies from the Red Sox and city. Out of the blue came this anecdote my way:
I was walking our Chicago hood with my 13-year-old yesterday, talking about the incident and race relations. He then asked if I knew when he first heard "the N-word." No, I said, as I bounced a basketball, I had no clue.
"Fenway Park. Remember when you took me to that game against the Blue Jays?"
Race, murder, policing in Chicago
Multi-panel events on a single subject run the risk of too many folks and ideas, too little time. It verged on the same last night during an inspection of strategies for combatting Chicago violence, but remained a fine evening hosted by The New York Times and University of Chicago Crime Lab.
The paper has done admirable work on the topic and its journalists Marc Lacey, Monica Davey and John Eligon were primary moderators. It's worth looking at the event. But if you don't have a ton of time, check the early presentation by Crime Lab director Jens Ludwig, a very serious social scientist.
The media penchant for quickie caricatures about Chicago, with its stunning increase in homicides, was implicitly deflated by Ludwig. He underscored what serious researchers still don't understand about a homicide rate that remains lower than cities including St. Louis, Detroit and Baltimore.
He took the current "in" explanations from both the left and right, including the obvious decline in police "stops," and explained how they "dramatically overstate" what can be reasonably concluded from the evidence. (Unfortunately, the rarely mentioned role played by a mediocre local judiciary that's weak on gun crimes was not a focus).
All that we know for sure is that there are too many gun-related crimes, the social damage is vast and the sudden, astonishing hike of 2016 last year shows no sign of abating. As I watched a live stream in a McDonald's, awaiting the end of a soccer practice of mostly privileged kids, it was a needed reminder as a journalist of the profound urban complexities around us.
Trump's loose libel talk
In a Q-and-A for a Media Law Resource Center, executive director George Freeman is asked, "Trump has said he wants to 'open up the libel laws. Are you worried about that?"
He responds in part, "No, of all his anti-press offensives, this worries me least. First, the president can’t change the law, certainly not constitutional law that has been in place for over 50 years; only the Supreme Court can do that. And, (by the way), there is nothing in Justice Gorsuch's writings which would lead me to believe that he would try to undercut (Times v.) Sullivan." (Media Law Resource Center)
Adding digital subscribers
"The New York Times on Wednesday reported the addition of 308,000 net digital subscribers in the first quarter of 2017, the most of any quarter in the newspaper's history, pushing it past the 2 million subscriber mark." (Poynter)
"Subscriptions to the company's news products fall just shy of 2 million, according to the company, because the total number includes subscribers to the company's crossword product."
"U.S. government requests for Facebook data are up, according to the company's latest biennial transparency report. Total requests jumped from 23,000 to 26,000, as compared to the first six months of 2016. Overall, it's an increase of about 12,000 requests over 2015's total." (TechDirt)
And get this: "According to the report, more than half of the orders received in 2016 came with gag orders."
Breitbart chagrined with Trump
The budget deals calls for "border fencing" and "steel bollard designs." But, fumes Breitbart, "on the campaign trail, Trump assured supporters that he was not building a fence, but an actual wall of hardened concrete."
Barack Obama unveiled plans for his presidential center and, writer The Chicago Tribune's Pulitzer winning architecture critic, it falls a bit short:
"So far, so good," writes Blair Kamin, "but there's a disappointing disconnect between the plan's signature architectural flourish — that slant-walled museum tower — and Obama's stated desire to avoid the syndrome of presidential libraries that are 'see what I did' monuments to the past. He wants a forward-looking building, one that will symbolize the center's mission to train future leaders who will make a difference in their communities, countries and the world."
"Nice rhetoric, but it's not yet supported by the architectural reality." (Chicago Tribune)
All the morning shows were expectedly focused on today's expected House vote on a healthcare bill and FBI Director James Comey's Senate testimony. "Fox & Friends" was excited about the bill, while also beckoning the previously suspended fabulist Andrew Napolitano to call for Comey's resignation.
CNN's "New Day" was dubious about the bill's essence, though Washington Examiner reporter-pundit David Drucker saw it at least as a potential affirmation of a heretofore fumbling majority GOP's ability to do something legislatively.
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" noted how most Republicans couldn't read the "unscored" (cost not neutrally assessed) bill impacting one-sixth of the economy until 8 p.m. and might "jump of the cliff so they can get a headline that will burn away into the mist within 24 hours," as Joe Scarborough put it. He raised the prospect of the GOP losing its majority as a result next year.
This "breaking news" from The Chicago Tribune: The chief of the state's "scandal-plagued" Department of Children and Family Services, the target of allegations of favoritism in contracts and hiring, "is now considering leaving the state for a $105 million-per-year job with a Florida nonprofit."
Got it? $105 million? Darn, can't find it in the story. But, just in case, where can we apply right now for a $105 million job with a Florida nonprofit?!