If a conspiracy theory is told in the middle of a forest, does it make a sound?
That brings me to …
Donald Trump spoke at a rally in Arizona over the weekend. He said a bunch of ridiculous and unproven things about the election, the “fake news” media and other junk.
As CNN’s Brian Stelter noted, even Fox News barely acknowledged the rally. It didn’t hype it ahead of time, It didn’t show it live and it hardly mentioned it after it was over.
Speaking on his “Reliable Sources” show, Stelter said Fox News is “much busier with Biden bashing.” But it is notable that Fox News just doesn’t automatically give oxygen to Trump every single time he speaks. Could this be a sign of Trump’s diminishing influence? Perhaps.
Then again, as Stelter points out, other right-wing media did cover the event, treating it like the Super Bowl with pre- and post-coverage. And it’s those other right-wing outlets, small as they are, that are fighting to attract MAGA viewers with their pro-Trump content.
One of those news outlets, however, just was hit with a major blow. One America News, better known as OAN, is getting dropped by DirecTV — by far OAN’s largest carrier. DirecTV accounts for about 90% of OAN’s revenue. Reuters’ John Shiffman wrote it’s a “move that could financially cripple the rightwing TV network known for fueling conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.” OAN’s contract with DirecTV runs out in April.
A couple of things. First off, OAN’s viewership is small. Really small. Secondly, it’s not a news network. It’s a propaganda channel. That’s two reasons why DirecTV won’t think twice about cutting ties.
But it is a network that Trump and his supporters love. Trump mentioned the news of DirecTV dropping OAN in his rally and said “woke executives” at AT&T, the primary owner of DirecTV, are behind this and that people should boycott AT&T.
Speaking of Trump …
The most interesting political piece of the weekend came from — who else? — Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin in The New York Times: “Who Is King of Florida? Tensions Rise Between Trump and a Former Acolyte.”
Haberman and Martin break down the friction between Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, particularly over COVID-19 policies. Trump has been quite vocal about being vaccinated, and has taken shots (no pun intended) at DeSantis for not disclosing if he has been boosted.
But this all comes down to something else. Haberman and Martin wrote, “Mr. Trump has made no secret of his preparations for a third run for the White House. And while Mr. DeSantis, who is up for re-election this year, has not declared his plans, he is widely believed to be eyeing the presidency.”
Trump, according to several sources of Haberman and Martin, has complained that DeSantis has refused to say he will not run against Trump in 2024.
Axios’ Jonathan Swan wrote, “Trump is trashing Ron DeSantis in private as an ingrate with a ‘dull personality; and no realistic chance of beating him in a potential 2024 showdown, according to sources who’ve recently talked to the former president about the Florida governor.”
Meanwhile, check out this emailed quote to the Times from conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who is no longer a fan of the former president: “Trump is done. You guys should stop obsessing over him.”
Lara Logan dropped by agency
We haven’t heard much from Lara Logan, the former “60 Minutes” correspondent turned conservative commentator, since she compared Dr. Anthony Fauci to Nazi doctor Josef Mengele during a “Fox News Primetime” appearance on Nov. 29.
To be clear, Logan is not an employee of Fox News. She had been an occasional guest, but hasn’t appeared on air since her abhorrent comments. (She had also hosted her own show, which was carried by Fox Nation — Fox News’ streaming service.)
Mediaite’s Aidan McLaughlin broke the news Monday that talent agency UTA has dropped Logan as a client. McLaughlin reported that UTA chief communications officer Seth Oster confirmed UTA cut ties with Logan weeks ago.
Who might replace Ben Smith as the media columnist for The New York Times? Charlotte Klein writes about that in her latest piece for Vanity Fair. She throws out a bunch of possibilities — it’s all speculation at this point — but the two names I found most interesting were Times features writer Katie Rosman and Eric Deggans, the TV critic from NPR who has experience writing about the media.
Whoever replaces Smith is going to have big shoes to fill. Smith’s once-a-week column often broke news, was deeply reported and certainly created a buzz.
One Times employee told Klein, “You want somebody who is going to be true to themselves. You don’t want someone copying Ben.”
Many believe the Times could use this Media Equation column to retool how it covers media. One staffer told Klein, “We’re totally missing the story on how tech is media and media is tech.”
Don’t miss the Jan. 31 deadline to enter this year’s Collier Prize for State Government Accountability. The $25,000 annual prize honors the year’s best investigative and political reporting of state government. The award is available to any news organization on any platform. Click here to enter.
Game … set … match
Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 tennis player in the world, was the favorite to win the Australian Open, where he has already won nine times, and take his 21st Grand Slam tournament, moving him past contemporaries Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. But Djokovic won’t even compete. He was kicked out of the country after a complicated saga over his status to enter Australia because of COVID-19 protocols. Djokovic is unvaccinated and was denied a medical exemption.
For tennis fans in the U.S., the Australian Open is tough to embrace. The time difference makes watching live difficult for those who prefer to sleep normal hours. And the tournament is played while the NFL playoffs are going on. Still, ESPN does an excellent job covering the tournament and I debate whether it is better that Djokovic was kicked out or allowed to play and see the reaction of fans, who have endured strict COVID-19 rules for the past two years.
There was no shortage of opinions about Djokovic being banned or on Djokovic himself.
Of course, many anti-vaxxers and those against any sort of mandates — such as The Federalist’s Ben Domenech — have suddenly shown great interest in tennis and Djokovic. (Domenech thinks this will “tar the entire nation as fundamentally anti-freedom.”)
The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch poked fun at these new tennis “fans” as he tweeted, “Great to see so many new tennis fans on this site. When you are done culture war-ing, stick around for the clay-court season. The Internazionali BNL d’Italia features the best players at the Foro Italico in Rome. Gorgeous setting.”
On a more serious note, there were some thoughtful commentaries about Djokovic.
In a piece for The New York Times, Michael Steinberger wrote, “Djokovic, 34, has done potentially irreparable harm to his own image. It is a bitter twist for a player who has long craved the adoration lavished on his chief rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and it is a sad coda to what is widely considered the greatest era in the history of men’s tennis.”
In her column for The Washington Post, Sally Jenkins wrote, “Novak Djokovic injured his legacy and his chance at being a popular champion not because of his vaccination status and unconventional beliefs, but because he imagined his sacrifices were the only ones that mattered. In the hunt for stand-alone greatness, he lost touch with others.”
Why didn’t Djokovic just get the shot?
Jenkins writes, “Because Djokovic chases a 1 percent margin of human performance, on an acute physical plane, one in which he’s sensitive to even a moment of dullness or physical setback, and he trusts no one but himself to protect that sensory margin. Not even a doctor. And perhaps living at that 1 percent made him feel invulnerable, and unassailable.”
Nadal is playing in Australia (Federer is not because of injury) and could get the record 21st major title. Djokovic could have issues playing in other majors, depending on the country and what the COVID-19 situation is when they are played.
But as CNN’s George Ramsay wrote, “Many see it as only a matter of time before (Djokovic) owns the record outright and establishes himself as the greatest player in the history of men’s tennis — a titan on the court with a complicated, controversial legacy off it.”
Journalism legend to retire
Paul Tash, the CEO and chairman of the Tampa Bay Times, announced last week that he will retire on July 1. He will continue as chairman of the board of trustees of Poynter, which owns the Tampa Bay Times.
While I’m biased because Tash has been one of my journalism mentors and I have worked for him for much of my career, there is no disputing he is among the most influential media figures in Tampa Bay history. Tash moved up the ranks at the Times, starting as a reporter in the 1970s. He would go on to become the editor in 1992 and then CEO and chairman in 2004. Since 1992, The Times has won nine of its 13 Pulitzer Prizes, including three for local reporting — more than any other outlet for local reporting.
Tash told the Times’ Jay Cridlin, “This seems like a very good time, both for the Times and for me, to make this move. Especially for the Times, because I really am encouraged about some of the great work we’ve gotten done, and the trajectory that we are on going forward.”
Conan Gallaty, a digital media specialist who has been with the Times since 2018, will become the Times’ new CEO and chairman.
For more on both, check out the story from my Poynter colleague Rick Edmonds.
If you live in Chicago and are a big sports fan, you know the name Les Grobstein, who passed away over the weekend. He was 69. Grobstein was the overnight radio sports host on 670 The Score.
The Chicago Sun-Times’ Jeff Agrest described him as a “broadcasting icon.” Chicago media writer Robert Feder wrote Grobstein was known as a “hard-working reporter with a phenomenal memory and a loyal following among night owls.”
The Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan wrote, “Grobstein spent more than 50 years reporting and commenting on the Chicago sports scene and was in press boxes in his final days.” Sullivan added, “If it was a Chicago sports fact and Grobstein confirmed it, you didn’t have to go to the internet to fact-check. He was that good.”
Feder wrote that Grobstein had been out sick last week, but no other details are known.
Aside from being a longtime host, Grobstein also is known for having recorded on audio the infamous, legendary, profanity-laced and, frankly, hilarious rant of former Chicago Cubs manager Lee Elia. (Here it is, if you’ve never heard it. But be warned, it’s hardcore R-rated.)
- The New York Times’ Catherine Porter talks to Jodie Ginsberg, who was recently named president of the Committee to Protect Journalists: “A Fighter for Press Freedom Is Expanding Her Battle.”
- Four months after its launch as NBC News NOW’s first prime-time streaming program, “Top Story with Tom Llamas” is now available as an audio showcast and you can find it wherever you get your podcasts. “Top Story with Tom Llamas” is a one-hour show reporting on the biggest stories of the day and can be streamed weekdays from 7 to 8 p.m. Eastern on NBC News NOW.
- CNN is mourning the loss of stage manager Jay Conroy in this thoughtful clip.
- This is cool: “Jeopardy!” is releasing a daily box score — stats from that day’s program.
- Writing for The Guardian, Michael Harriot with “MLK is revered today but the real King would make white people uncomfortable.”
- Superb piece from “60 Minutes” and correspondent Jon Wertheim: “Investigating who betrayed Anne Frank and her family to the Nazis.”
- CNN’s Eric Levenson with “What it was like inside the Colleyville, Texas, synagogue during the 11-hour hostage standoff.”
- Finally, a terrific essay from longtime New York Times reporter and columnist Dan Barry: “Alone With a Basketball, a Hoop, and Covid.”
Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More resources for journalists
- Subscribe to The Collective — Poynter’s monthly newsletter for journalists of color by journalists of color
- Hiring? Post jobs on The Media Job Board — Powered by Poynter, Editor & Publisher and America’s Newspapers.
- TV Power Reporting Academy (In-person and Online) — April 5-28, Apply by Feb. 18
The Poynter Report is our daily media newsletter. To have it delivered to your inbox Monday-Friday, sign up here.