By:
November 17, 2022

Two story leads jumped out to me following Donald Trump’s Tuesday night announcement that he is running for president in 2024.

First, this one from The Washington Post’s Isaac Arnsdorf and Michael Scherer, who wrote, “Donald Trump, the twice-impeached former president who refused to concede defeat and inspired a failed attempt to overturn the 2020 election culminating in a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, officially declared on Tuesday night that he is running to retake the White House in 2024.”

Then there was this from NPR’s Domenico Montanaro: “Donald Trump, who tried to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election and inspired a deadly riot at the Capitol in a desperate attempt to keep himself in power, announced he is running again for president in 2024.”

Everything in those two leads was 100% accurate and exactly what media outlets should be writing and saying when it comes to Trump.

Meanwhile, as Media Matters’ Matt Gertz notes, the Associated Press, New York Times and Politico, in their main stories of Trump’s announcement, all mentioned election subversion in the first paragraph. Many others — CNN, The Los Angeles Times and NBC News, for example — mentioned election subversion in the first 10 paragraphs.

In Wednesday’s newsletter, I detailed some of the other reactions to Trump’s announcement, including The New York Times’ editorial with this headline: “America Deserves Better Than Donald Trump.”

The editors of the conservative National Review were even more clear and a whole lot shorter in their headline. In fact, the headline couldn’t get any shorter. It simply was “No.”

The National Review editors wrote, “To paraphrase Voltaire after he attended an orgy, once was an experiment, twice would be perverse.”

They later added, “It’s too early to know what the rest of the field will look like, except it will offer much better alternatives than Trump. The answer to Trump’s invitation to remain personally and politically beholden to him and his cracked obsessions for at least another two years, with all the chaos that entails and the very real possibility of another highly consequential defeat, should be a firm, unmistakable, No.”

The ratings game

Millions tuned into Trump’s announcement. During the 9 p.m. Eastern hour Tuesday night, Fox News drew 5.16 million total viewers, while CNN (which showed about half of Trump’s hourlong speech) drew 2.43 million. Those are better than normal numbers in that time slot. MSNBC did not air the speech and the show on at that time, “Alex Wagner Tonight,” averaged 1.8 million viewers.

Florida man

Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post continues to move away from Donald Trump. A week after its “Trumpty Dumpty” front page made fun of the former president, the Post took another dig at Trump on Wednesday.

Trump and his announcement that he is running for president in 2024 was not the main story featured on Wednesday’s front page. (A story about gangs in New York was.) Trump’s announcement was stripped across the bottom, but here’s what it said:

“Florida man makes announcement.” It told readers to go to page 26. 

Florida man? Ouch.

The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, who knows Trump as well as any journalist, tweeted, “The Post – and Murdoch – know better than anyone that the biggest wound Trump can suffer is people not saying his name.”

Throwback Thursday

We all are dissecting and inspecting how Rupert Murdoch’s media empire — which includes the New York Post, Wall Street Journal and Fox News — is treating Donald Trump these days. There are plenty of signs that Murdoch is backing away from Trump. But Michael Calderone — a veteran media reporter and editor — reminded us in a tweet Thursday that this isn’t the first time we’re seeing cracks in the Murdoch-Trump relationship.

Go all the way back to July of 2015 and this headline of a Calderone story in for HuffPost: “Rupert Murdoch’s Media Empire Split Over Donald Trump.”

Calderone, who now works at Vanity Fair, noted in his tweet that Trump has gotten some “rough treatment” in the Post and that there seems to be a divide between how the Post and Wall Street Journal are treating Trump’s announcement, and how Fox News did. Fox News, at least immediately following Trump’s announcement, was very positive about Trump.

For example, Fox News’ host Sean Hannity said on air, “I’m watching this president at this hour and I’m seeing a guy that looks like he is dead-on focused.” And guest Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas Republican governor called Trump’s speech “pitch perfect” and said he would be “unbeatable” by any Republican or Democrat if he stuck to his message for the next two years.

So, yeah, let’s not say all of Murdoch’s properties have turned on Trump. As of now, the most powerful part of Murduch’s media empire — Fox News’ primetime — remains in Trump’s corner.

As Calderone notes, it sounds a lot like 2015.

Surprise announcement

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, shown here in November of 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Trump announcing that he is running for president was no surprise. But what his daughter Ivanka announced was a surprise. On Tuesday night, not long after Donald Trump’s announcement, Ivanka Trump told Fox News Digital that she will not be a part of her father’s campaign.

She said, “I love my father very much. This time around, I am choosing to prioritize my young children and the private life we are creating as a family. I do not plan to be involved in politics. While I will always love and support my father, going forward I will do so outside the political arena. I am grateful to have had the honor of serving the American people and will always be proud of many of our administration’s accomplishments.”

Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, have three children, ages 11, 9 and 6. Ivanka and Kushner were senior advisors in Trump’s White House and campaigned for Trump in both 2016 and 2020. It’s unclear if Kushner will be a part of this Trump campaign, but the New York Post’s Ian Mohr and Samuel Chamberlain wrote a story earlier this week that hinted that Kushner, for now, is unlikely to join Trump’s presidential run.

Moving forward with covering Trump

Now that Trump is running for president, how should the media cover him? That’s a major topic today, and will be for the next two years — or however long Trump is in the mix.

Writing for The Conversation, Thomas E. Patterson — Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press, Harvard Kennedy School — writes that it’s up to the media to be responsible by, among other things, doing the following:

  • Don’t play into his hands by letting him set the narrative.
  • Call out his falsehoods, but don’t dwell on them.
  • Don’t confuse access with newsworthiness. (This is a really smart point by Patterson.)
  • Do notice when he trashes democracy.
  • Avoid false equivalence.
  • Provide context.

There’s more, and Patterson expands on his points with thoughtful examination. It’s good advice for journalists and those who follow this stuff closely. Give it a read.

Replacing a legend

Newly named “PBS NewsHour” co-anchors Geoff Bennett and Amna Nawaz. (Photo courtesy of PBS)

“PBS NewsHour” is losing a legend with Judy Woodruff retiring as anchor. She’s so good that PBS has decided it will take two anchors to replace her. On Wednesday, the network announced that Amna Nawaz and Geoff Bennett will co-anchor “PBS NewsHour” starting Jan. 2.

Nawaz is currently “PBS NewsHour’s” chief correspondent and regularly has filled in as a substitute anchor since 2018. She previously was an anchor and correspondent at ABC News and also worked at NBC News. Bennett joined “PBS NewsHour” earlier this year as chief Washington correspondent and he anchors “PBS News Weekend.” Bennett’s resume includes working at NBC News, ABC News and NPR.

Woodruff has anchored “PBS NewsHour” since 2013. She co-anchored the newscast with Gwen Ifill until Ifill’s death in 2016. Woodruff has been the solo anchor since then. Woodruff is stepping down as anchor at the end of next month, but she is not retiring from the business. She is shifting to a project called “Judy Woodruff Presents: America at a Crossroads.”

Just a quick personal thought: While Nawaz and Bennett are excellent choices, it’s sad to see Woodruff leave. She’s one of the classiest and best anchors we’ve ever seen and her nightly presence will be greatly missed.

Hardcore Twitter

Twitter is going “hardcore.” What does that mean? In an email to employees obtained by The Washington Post’s Faiz Siddiqui and Jeremy B. Merrill, Musk wrote, “This will mean working long hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade.”

Along with that, Musk asked employees to sign a pledge to the company. He wrote, “If you are sure that you want to be part of the new Twitter, please click yes on the link below.”

Those who don’t sign by 5 p.m. today will be terminated with three months severance pay. The Post reporters wrote, “The pledge email, paired with a new policy mandating a return to the office, is expected to lead to even more attrition at a company whose staff Musk had already reduced by half. Musk said Twitter would be more of an engineer-driven operation going forward — and while the design and product-management areas would still be important and report to him, he said, ‘those writing great code will constitute the majority of our team and have the greatest sway.’”

The New York Times’ Kate Conger wrote, “Giving remaining employees a deadline to leave has the dual effect of allowing Mr. Musk to further cut costs and purge the company of disgruntled workers.”

Media tidbits

Hot type

For Slate, a very personal and well-done essay from Olivia Messer with “A Farewell to DM Sliding.”

For The New York Times, Tariq Panja and Bhadra Sharma with “The World Cup’s Forgotten Team. Hundreds of thousands of Nepalis were part of an army of migrant workers who remade Qatar for its World Cup moment. But in chasing desperately needed paychecks abroad, many pay a heavy price.”

ESPN’s senior writer Ramona Shelburne with “Inside Klay Thompson’s epic comeback to become the player he used to be.”

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