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.
If you watched cable news Thursday morning, you might have simply assumed the Trump presidency is in peril — unless you turned to local news.
That's the case for most of America beyond media and policymakers who ravenously consume CNN, MSNBC and Fox.
MSNBC and CNN went heavy in trying to tie the assault of a reporter by a Montana congressional candidate into Donald Trump's branding the press the enemy. Isolated incident or part of a dynamic unleashed by Trump?
He's helped foster "a culture where the reporters are the enemy," said Washington Post reporter Karoun Demirjian. "It's about creating an atmosphere consciously stoking those fires of fear and resentment," said John Avlon, editor in chief of The Daily Beast.
Well, on Chicago's WGN, you were simultaneously getting stories about a road rage killer on the loose, armed robberies in a swank Lincoln Park hood, a charter school strike averted and $4 million set aside to help cops buy homes in tough neighborhoods. There was, too, lots of weather, traffic and a feature on "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" turning 50.
"White House in crisis" may be another chyron that's flashed before our eyes on cable. But that's just not where most people get their news. The reality is missed by many journalists and opinion makers.
Go to any TV market and you'll see the ratings of local stations demolish cable news alternatives. In New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, the pattern is about the same. It explains why the anti-Trump ardor found among some elite media — justified or not — is not reflected among many Americans.
For example, in the most recent big ratings, or "sweeps" period, an average of 127,770 viewers were watching "WGN Morning News" on Chicago's independent WGN-TV between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m.
By comparison, 33,520 watched "Fox and Friends," 20,360 watched "Morning Joe," 18,600 watched CNN's "New Day," 5,650 watched HLN's "Morning Express" and 3,030 watched CNBC's "Squawk Box."
Don't know Robin Baumgarten and Larry Potash? A lot more people in Chicago know them as fun, smart co-hosts of the WGN show than know Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.
Yes, things change when "Good Morning America," "Today" and "CBS Morning News" surface at 7 a.m. locally. But the overall reality is the same: WGN still retains 148,100 viewers, compared to 128,120 for ABC's "Good Morning America," which airs on the longtime No. 1 station in the market, WLS-TV, while there are 76,820 for "Today" and 46,380 for "CBS This Morning."
It's roughly the same in Los Angeles and New York. But that doesn't stop media observers (present company included), and other members of the press, from both incessantly reporting and setting editorial agendas based on what a relatively small slice of Americans watch.
If you want to see a longer piece and ratings breakdown, here it is. And be mindful that those local outlets are reporting on the Trump mess. It's just that they capitalize on the fact there are many other things folks care about — like tons of weather, traffic and other local news.
It's also a reality known to smart political consultants, like Chicago-based Tom Bowen.
"The people that watch national cable news are highly attuned to politics, and that's just not normal. If you want to reach voters, you have to be where they're getting the information they need for their day — weather, traffic, and what's going on in their community. Local news is still king."
Body slam in Bozeman
The Bozeman, Montana Daily Chronicle's lead story is no surprise, given the national attention playing out last night and today: "Late on the night before a hotly contested special election, U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault after a national political reporter alleged the Republican 'body slammed' him, sending a last-minute shockwave through the race."
Fox reporter Alicia Acuna, producer Faith Mangan and photographer Keith Railey were there to do a story for Bret Baier's show and saw it all, namely The Guardian's Ben Jacobs asking him questions about the Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act. (Fox)
Then, "Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter," writes Acuna.
Spurning Hannity (for now)
"Online auto classifieds site Cars.com said it would cease advertising on Fox News Channel’s 'Hannity' after the program’s popular host, Sean Hannity, over several broadcasts promoted a largely discredited story about the murder of a Democratic National Committee staffer, then said he would halt discussion of it for the time being out of concern for the victim’s family." (Variety)
It's way early to claim any trend, even after the dramatic flight of advertisers from Bill O'Reilly before he was canned, says Tim Calkins, a marketing expert at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.
But imagine this, he muses: a world where, just like Democratic and Republican political consultants, we've got de facto Democratic and Republican advertisers.
Fox hits back
Law Newz, which was founded by longtime law reporter and TV analyst Dan Abrams, reports, "Fox News is responding to a lawsuit from former host Andrea Tantaros by taking action of their own against her and her attorney."
"After Tantaros sued, claiming that people at Fox hacked her electronic devices, spied on her, and harassed her, the network is moving for sanctions against Tantaros and her attorney Judd Berstein for filing a complaint with allegations that 'are not just false, they are outrageously and flagrantly so.'"
The Comey-Trump chats
Ben Wittes, a legal journalist-analyst and James Comey friend, uses the Lawfare blog he founded to expand and clarify an admittedly "bald statement" he made to Anderson Cooper, namely that "I would bet every dollar that I have" that Comey had not thrice assured Trump that he wasn't "under investigation."
And, while offering some qualifiers, the Brookings Institution fellow concludes thusly: "If Trump wasn’t, in fact, 'under investigation' when he asked Comey about it, I would be stunned if he weren’t so now."
"There is simply no way to look at the revelations of the last week and not see a predicate for an obstruction investigation. One of the many elements of the fact pattern that has emerged which Bob Mueller will certainly want to examine in this regard are the president’s — by his own account — repeated inquiries to the then-FBI director as to the status of the probe vis-a-vis himself."
Trump and Melania hand-holding
McSweeney's includes a global tongue-in-cheek exclusive, "SECTION 8F OF DONALD AND MELANIA TRUMP’S PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT: HANDHOLDING" by Caitlin Kunkel. Given recent media infatuation with the topic, be advised:
"In years 1-3 of the marriage, Prospective Husband will be allowed ten (10) public hand holds per year for promotional and monetary purposes surrounding real estate, and one (1) private nighttime hand hold on each of those three birthdays."
A Yalie's good move
John Hayden could have turned pro hockey player after his junior year at Yale. Instead, he took a risk and decided to stick around so he could be captain of the team and earn his degree.
He just got it and will now do what he was going to do a year ago: Be a full-time pro with the Chicago Blackhawks (actually he played a tiny bit after his Yale season was over). Class Day was Sunday, meaning he listened to Yale grad Theo Epstein, baseball executive par excellence, speak to the class. So all turned out well. (The Athletic)
If you get offered a job in San Francisco...
Conceding its teachers are poorly paid, San Francisco is developing an area for teacher housing. But, The Chronicle reports, they are far from the only workers who can't afford to live there.
"With $105,000 for a family of four now qualifying for 'low income' housing in San Francisco, there are people in many key occupations that are currently forced to live, alongside the teachers, far from San Francisco city limits."
Cops start at $83,000 and firefighters at $74,800, but consider how "the median salary needed to rent a 2-bedroom in the city is $216,129." Yes, you can live on the cheap, but the options are few and far between. (SFgate) No mention of journalists.
Quelle surprise (as the French would say)
Reports Politico, "Despite retracting its own article linking last summer’s murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich to the DNC's hacked emails and WikiLeaks, Fox News did not pressure host Sean Hannity to do the same, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told Politico."
Bill Clinton's next act
What is one to think of him these days, the now former certain-to-be First Gentleman?
Nicholas Lemann offers a New York Review of Books essay in the form of a review of four Clinton books, most positively journalist Joe Conason's "Man of the World," and concludes by referencing a March speech at the Brookings Institution where he conceded the rise nationalism is an "inevitable consequence" of globalization:
He's become "the kind of foil Trumpism feeds on. The question about him now is whether he can shed his liabilities sufficiently to offer real help, at a moment of dire need, to the party to which has devoted his life." (New York Review of Books)
Warning to Detroit Tigers fans: Skip this
"Jordan Zimmermann on unstoppable path to becoming a $110 million disaster." (Bleacher Report)
Zachary Rymer notes how the pitcher is in an "exclusive club" of baseball free agents who signed deals for more than $100 million. That's guaranteed dough (unlike most, say, NFL deals), partly explaining why Rymer thinks he's on his way to being an epic bad investment.
Firm grasp of the obvious
"Republicans don’t trust the media — unless it’s the media Republicans like. That’s the takeaway from a new survey out, which shows that the majority of Republicans think most news outlets aren’t trustworthy — but that 41 percent of Republicans think the news media they follow do get the story right." (Recode)
This is via the Media Insight Project, a combo deal between the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The Facebook-Snap pissing match
"While many view Facebook's launch of Instagram Stories last August as its first big assault on Snap, the copycatting actually goes all the way back to 2012, according to Snap's chief strategy officer, Imran Khan." (The Street)
"'The most important thing to keep in mind is that Facebook has been copying Snapchat since Evan and Bobby were working at [Evan's] dad's house with a product called Poke," Khan told an investment conference in Boston, alluding to Snap co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy.
The morning babble
"Fox and Friends" went heavy with the Manchester tragedy, "Dems in Hysteria," over Trump's budget and Trump "talking tough to NATO, while MSNBC and CNN focused on the alleged Montana assault, Trump intelligence disclosures and how, as The Washington Post puts it, "A secret document that officials say played a key role in then-FBI Director James B. Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation has long been viewed within the FBI as unreliable and possibly a fake."
And an important bottom line from Michael Schmidt of The New York Times on "Morning Joe": Despite the drip, drip nature of the Russia story, and Trump's loosey-goosey dealings with the Russians, "here we are a year into this investigation and there's all this smoke and all these weird things like this. But we still have no direct evidence, including in our own story today, that there was collusion and that there was direct coordination between both sides."