President Trump lied about The New York Times (again). Will it make any difference?
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If the great Ella Fitzgerald were around during these days of Trump, here's what she might be singing:
"Summertime, and the lying is easy,
Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high"
It happened again with a weekend President Trump tweet: “The failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist, Al-Baghdadi. Their sick agenda over national security.”
As The Times wrote in a long rebuttal, "Mr. Trump’s statement appeared to be based on a report by Fox News; he is known to be an avid viewer, and a version of the story was broadcast about 25 minutes before he posted."
It was also utter malarkey, as the paper made clear. If, indeed, ISIS was tipped off, it was very likely by the Pentagon's own press release. Be that as it may, be it summer or the throes of an awful winter.
Do facts matter here? I tracked down Amy Mitchell, director of journalism research at the Pew Research Center, at a family function Sunday, and she reminded me of the larger divide in partisan attitudes one discerns these days. Republicans' suspicion have grown dramatically, in particular when it comes to the "watchdog" role of the press.
So one can safely say that there's a good chance that Republicans — whether sunning at a beach, watching kids' ball games or just laboring hard to pay the rent or mortgage — are unmoved by the media unequivocally showing (again) that Trump's hold on facts can be tenuous.
At the same time a majority, whatever the party, told Pew that relations between Trump and the media "gets in the way of access to important information."
Andrew Rudalevige, a Bowdoin College political scientist, passed his summer Sunday evening going to see "Dunkirk" at a Maine theater. Before splitting, he was the atypical citizen seriously mulling political matters, albeit under duress from stranded me (stuck at the Boston airport after a pilot announced on the runway that he was done for the day).
Some proportion of Trump's base doesn't care what he does, Rudalevige said. It's too simple to say that none believe the media, or that they think he always tells the truth. But his de facto barroom conversation research suggests they "have been telling everyone else 'I told you so' for years (when they voted for Romney, or Dole, or god forbid Obama) and they are not going to let anyone do that to them."
But might reporting on his falsehoods be at least impacting some independents, the very group that tends to have lower levels of political information than partisans? There's evidence to that effect, he noted.
So, as Mitchell notes, most citizens have agreed that it's all very unhealthy; they're just unsure whom to blame.
If only calling Trump to task were as easy as applying sunscreen. Until then, as Ella would say, "So hush, little baby, don't you cry."
Conservatives disputing Sinclair deal
It's conservatives versus conservatives as Newsmax Media Inc. asks the Justice Department antitrust division to take more time in assessing Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.'s $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media Co. (Bloomberg)
Christopher Ruddy, who heads the small media network Newsmax, is a chum of President Trump and said, "I think it needs more vetting."
In case you forget, the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo is underway, and Wyoming Tribune Eagle photo editor Blaine McCartney offers "tips for getting great rodeo shots."
For example, when it comes to bull riding, "Watch the bull spin around and anticipate that moment when the bull rider is facing you. You’ll want to click the shutter right before they turn around facing you. Also, be ready for that quick moment if the cowboy is thrown off."
A deal for Scripps "doesn't make sense"
Barron's argues that whether the rumor is Discovery or Viacom buying Scripps, a deal doesn't make much sense.
"For one, television bundles are getting smaller as consumers become less willing to pay for a sizable package of channels they’ll never watch. Networks also face pressure on the ad front as TV ratings continue to slip."
How long before...?
So what's the Vegas over-under on Sean Spicer signing up with a cable new network, to presumably make more money for a lot less work? Three weeks? Four?
Josh Earnest, President Obama's spokesman, went right through the revolving door and was doing his new pundit's thing on "Morning Joe" this morning. Hey, cut Spicer a six-figure deal and pair him with Earnest. ("Next up, 'Spicey and Josh,' stay tuned...").
Writes Josh Marshall in Talking Points Memo, "With the flurry of news over the last 24 hours over President Trump’s expanding war on Robert Mueller, we’ve heard a growing chorus of voices comparing this battle to that between the Clinton White House and Independent Counsel Ken Starr during the Whitewater/Lewinsky investigations. The comparison is quite simply lazy, baseless and stupid."
Lazy, baseless and stupid? That's debatable. Marshall should have been the Washington bureau chief of a big daily, not to mention many White House reporters at the time, who heard from Clinton aides and allies early and often about Starr — long before his expansion of the investigation into the topic of Clinton and a former White House intern.
Hannity and Sinclair
On MSNBC, New York's Gabriel Sherman said he has sources 'in and around Fox' that say Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity and former Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly are 'in talks' to take their shows to Sinclair Broadcast Group." (Breitbart)
"In talks?” The notion of Sinclair as a national competitor to Fox has had currency for a bit. It would be natural for Sinclair, until its proposed purchase of Tribune a very small-town TV player, to mull such signings. But it still seems a stretch, even if Hannity gains leverage to make even more money from the Murdoch empire.
Fighting over FOIA
In The Atlantic, Michelle Cottle explains how a conservative nonprofit is fighting a move by House Republicans to undermine the Freedom of Information Act by excluding from its purview lots of records sent by agencies to Capitol Hill.
Weird Google story
"Google is having trouble pushing its Facebook-like newsfeed to Android devices — The best way to experience Google’s news feed appears to be with an iPhone."
Huh? "The reason for the hiccup has to do with how the feed works on Android home screens. The feed is part of the Google app, which is accessed as a home screen on many Android devices by swiping right. But that swipe won’t load this new news feed on many Android devices just yet." (Recode)
They've got no previous sports journalism experience, but Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann founded The Athletic at a time when somber hitters, such as ESPN, are laying off folks. Bloomberg reports they "hastily pulled together $5.8 million in new capital from investors in a round they closed last week. The plan is to scoop up laid-off writers and put them to work building a new kind of sports news operation as the traditional industry leaders are in retreat."
Editorially, it does a nice job so far with what it calls "premium" sports content. Economically, "it charges subscribers $40 annually for in-depth coverage of local sports in Chicago, Cleveland, Toronto and Detroit — (it also covers the Golden State Warriors). The company says it can turn a profit in a city once it gets between 8,000 to 12,000 subscribers. It has no plans to sell advertising." Here's this morning's Chicago version.
The daily babble
Where have we heard this before? The notion of a president exiting the White House to "communicate more directly with the American people," as was sub co-host Ed Henry's mantra on "Trump & friends." Yes, with virtually all of President Trump's predecessors.
CNN's "New Day" was focused on Jared Kushner and his 11-page statement disclosed this morning prior to Monday's appearance before a Senate committee in a closed session. Is it possible he had no significant contacts with the Russians? Pundit Jeffrey Toobin, seamlessly segueing from his O.J. Simpson-filled week, suggested that might be the case. The New York Times' David Sanger was also far from accusatory.
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" was also Kushner-heavy, as well as (surprise) not solely relying on The Times and Washington Post for babble fodder. Instead, it was Noah Rothman's piece in right-of-center Commentary, where he writes, "These are dangerous days, and it is incumbent upon Donald Trump’s party in Congress to deter the executive branch from overstepping its authority."
Maine's Paul LePage hates the press, so no surprise he's not big on forking over data on his travels to Washington. Writes the Portland Press Herald, "Some of the $35,000 spent by the governor and staff in D.C. is reimbursed, but he withholds details on expenses and dozens of ‘private appointments.’"
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