July 27, 2021

California Gov. Gavin Newsom blasted right-wing media and politicians, including several by name, because he believes they have spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. He said it both in a press conference Monday and during an appearance on MSNBC.

According to The Sacramento Bee’s Andrew Sheeler, Newsom said in his Monday press conference, “We are exhausted, respectfully, exhausted by the ideological prism that too many Americans are living under. We’re exhausted by the (Wisconsin Sen.) Ron Johnsons and the Tucker Carlsons. We’re exhausted by the (Georgia Rep.) Marjorie Taylor Greenes, we’re exhausted by the right-wing echo chamber that has been perpetuating misinformation around the vaccine and its efficacy and safety. We’re exhausted by the politicalization of this pandemic, and that includes mask-wearing that has been equated to the Holocaust. It’s disgraceful, it’s unconscionable, and it needs to be called out.”

He made similar comments during an appearance on MSNBC, saying such misinformation is “literally putting people’s lives at risk” and “it’s overwhelmingly coming from certain networks.”

A Fox News spokesperson responded by noting that many network on-air personalities have promoted the vaccine and that the network recently rereleased a PSA and launched a vaccine finder tool on its website.

Psaki’s response

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House on Monday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Over the weekend, Dr. Anthony Fauci said we’re heading in the “wrong direction” when it comes to increasing COVID-19 rates. On Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Fauci’s comments.

Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked, “On COVID, Dr. Fauci says we’re going in the wrong direction. Whose fault is that?”

Psaki gave a pretty good answer: “Well, I would say first what he was referring to is the fact that because there are still a large population of people in this country who were unvaccinated, and we have the most transmissible variants that we’ve seen since the beginning of the pandemic, that more people are getting sick with COVID, and that’s not, those numbers are not moving in the right direction. I think that’s accurate and you can see it by data.”

Lightfoot addresses interview controversy

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is the guest on the latest episode of “Sway” — The New York Times podcast hosted by Kara Swisher. Lightfoot was asked about the decision to mark her two years in office by offering exclusive interviews only to journalists of color.

“So here’s the bottom line for me,” Lightfoot said. “To state the obvious, I’m a Black woman mayor. I’m the mayor of the third-largest city in the country. Obviously, I have a platform. It’s important to me to advocate on things that I believe are important. And going back to why I ran — to disrupt the status quo. The media is critically important to our democracy. You know this better than I do. The media is in a time of incredible upheaval and disruption. But our city hall press corps looks like it’s 1950 or 1970.”

Swisher said she agreed the media needs more diversity, but that “politicians don’t get to choose who covers them.”

“No, it’s not about me choosing who covers me, right?” Lightfoot said. “I gave exclusive interviews. And we do get to choose who we talk to in exclusives. I gave exclusive interviews with journalists of color, right? One 24-hour period and it was like people’s heads exploded. I had journalists saying, ‘Does the mayor think I’m racist?’ No, it’s not about individuals. It’s about systemic racism. It’s about calling it like I see it and challenging the heads of the media companies here in town to do a better job of bringing journalists of color, women into the fray. That’s what this is about. And so, yeah, I could have been quiet and sat back and said, ‘Well, I don’t like this. I think they could do better,’ but kept it to myself. But why should I? If not me, who?”

C-SPAN’s new political editor

Nate Hurst has been named the political editor of C-SPAN, taking over for Steve Scully. Hurst has been with C-SPAN since 2014 and has been the network’s deputy political editor since 2019. He also has worked at the CQ Roll Call and The Detroit News.

Hurst tweeted, “Incredibly excited for this opportunity to continue growing at a company I love.”

Scully was C-SPAN’s longtime political editor and its most prominent on-air personality, but got into social media trouble last year. He was scheduled to host the second presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden but then was suspended by C-SPAN after initially lying about his Twitter account being hacked. Scully had sent a tweet to former Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci about Trump. The debate ended up being canceled anyway because Trump contracted COVID-19.

Scully, who had been with C-SPAN since 1990, eventually took a buyout last month to become senior vice president of communications for the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Olympic watching

Momiji Nishiya of Japan reacts after winning the women’s street skateboarding finals at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Monday in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Sports Business Journal’s Austin Karp reports that NBC averaged 15.3 million viewers for Saturday’s telecast of the Olympics. That would make it the least-watched second night of the Olympics for NBC.

This storyline is likely to continue over the next two weeks. The expectation, for a variety of reasons, is that viewership for the Olympics will be down for TV but up for streaming. Overall, the numbers will be off compared to past Olympics.

Variety’s Brian Steinberg wrote, “​​The Olympics are going through the same sort of wrenching change through which other big TV mainstays are navigating. The Oscars, Grammys and Golden Globes are all experiencing declines in linear viewing, as are the day-and-date broadcasts of every kind of primetime comedy and drama. The Super Bowl, which generates TV’s biggest single-day audience each year, has also begun to see its overall audience start to settle.”

One narrative that keeps showing up on social media is complaints that the Olympics are on too many other channels besides NBC (such as USA Network, CNBC, NBCSN and so on) and that viewers don’t know which channels they are, or when, or where they are on their cable systems.

For years, we complained that the network airing the Olympics didn’t show enough events. So are we now really going to complain that the Olympics are on too many channels and we can’t find where they are? Pick up your remote and start scrolling. Or check online. It ain’t hard, folks.

Olympic reads

Speaking of the Olympics, here are some good pieces to check out:

New at The Atlantic

The Atlantic has launched a new section called “America in Person.” It is dedicated to exploring the “complexity and multidimensionality of American identity.”

In a statement, The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, said, “The Atlantic has long been preoccupied by pluralism and the American idea, so it’s only natural for us to explore in a dedicated way what it means to be American. American identity is far more layered, and far more interesting, than straightforward categorization allows.”

The project is being led by Lauren N. Williams, who said, “There is more than one way to think about American identity, and with these stories, we’re eager to expand on The Atlantic’s work of helping readers explore non-mainstream narratives.”

The project launches with pieces by Talmon Joseph Smith (“America’s Investing Boom Goes Far Beyond Reddit Bros”), Meaghan Winter (“The Fastest Growing Group of American Evangelicals”) and Madison Moore (“The Surprising Innovations of Pandemic Era Sex.”)

Hot type

A hat tip to Muck Rack for alerting me to these first two pieces:

Correction: In the item about Jen Psaki, the name of the Fox News reporter who asked the question has been changed to Peter Doocy. He asked the question, not his father, Steve.

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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