January 13, 2022

Good morning. Just some quick housekeeping. I’ll be on assignment today and with Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, The Poynter Report will take a long weekend break. This will be the last newsletter of the week, and I will return next Tuesday. Have a great weekend. Now onto a very busy day in media news …

Well, we now know what happens when former President Donald Trump gets pushback over the phone when he tries to peddle his lies about the 2020 election.

He hangs up on you.

We had heard earlier this week that Trump did an interview with Steve Inskeep, co-host of NPR’s “Morning Edition,” and that that interview ended abruptly.

It sure did.

Inskeep wouldn’t let Trump’s false claims slide by and consistently pressed him. Inskeep said, “Your own lawyers had no evidence of fraud, they said in court they had no evidence of fraud, and the judges ruled against you every time on the merits.”

At one point, Trump said, “How come Biden couldn’t attract 20 people for a crowd? How come when he went to speak in different locations, nobody came to watch, but all of a sudden, he got 80 million votes? Nobody believes that, Steve. Nobody believes that.”

Inskeep said, “If you’ll forgive me, maybe because the election was about you.”

The two continued their back-and-forth until Trump had enough, saying, “So Steve, thank you very much. I appreciate it.”

Inskeep wasn’t done, telling Trump, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, I have one more question.”

But Trump was no longer there. Inskeep said, “He’s gone. OK.”

The interview did include more than talk about the 2020 election. Inskeep and Trump also talked about COVID-19 and vaccinations. Trump said, “The vaccines, I recommend taking them, but I think that has to be an individual choice. I mean, it’s got to be individual, but I recommend taking them. Many people recommend them. And if some people don’t want, they shouldn’t have to take them. They can’t be mandated, as the expression goes.”

At the start of the interview, Inskeep told Trump that he would keep the interview at about 15 minutes. But Trump hung up after about nine.

This isn’t the first time Trump has walked out when the questions got tough. As The New York Times’ Amanda Holpuch noted, “The abrupt end of the interview recalled an episode in October 2020 when Mr. Trump, then the president, cut off an interview with ‘60 Minutes’ at the White House and then taunted the interviewer, Lesley Stahl, on Twitter.”

Here’s the interview, as well as the transcript.

Speaking of The Big Lie …

I want to call your attention to a particularly engaging and interesting piece from FiveThirtyEight. From Kaleigh Rogers with graphics by Ryan Best: “The Big Lie’s Long Shadow. How a network of conspiracy peddlers has made the GOP thirsty for major electoral change.”

Talking to McEnany

Kayleigh McEnany when she was White House press secretary in 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Fox News’ Kayleigh McEnany didn’t appear on her show “Outnumbered” on Wednesday. Why? The former White House press secretary under Trump was reportedly meeting with the House select committee investigating Jan. 6.

CNN’s Annie Grayer and Ryan Nobles report that the committee has requested a “significant number” of McEnany records from the National Archives, but Trump is asking the Supreme Court to block the committee from accessing White House records.

Grayer and Nobles wrote, “According to a disclosure from the National Archives made in court in October, the committee is seeking ‘629 pages from multiple binders containing proposed talking points for the Press Secretary, interspersed with a relatively small number of related statements and documents, principally relating to allegations of voter fraud, election security, and other topics concerning the 2020 election.’ The committee’s original subpoena of McEnany shows a specific interest in her public statements related to spreading misinformation about the 2020 election results.”

A big shift

For this item, I turn it over to my Poynter colleague Kristen Hare.

Gannett’s Saturday print papers will become Saturday e-editions in 136 markets, according to a Wednesday memo shared with Poynter. “A number of markets will not be included in this transition based on specific market data,” the memo said. “Details will be communicated by local managers in the coming weeks.”

As Poynter’s Rick Edmonds told The Cincinnati Enquirer, it’s a trend, including among McClatchy’s 30 newspapers and the Poynter-owned Tampa Bay Times.

The memo includes this: “We also plan to introduce different delivery models in select markets to stimulate further learning and insights as we address the rapidly evolving digital landscape to provide our subscribers with the best experience.”


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What’s going on at NPR?

NPR’s David Folkenflik writes about his own shop in “NPR hosts’ departures fuel questions over race. The full story is complex.”

Folkenflik writes, “Interviews with 12 people with direct knowledge of recent developments, including NPR hosts and executives, suggest NPR indeed struggles to retain high-profile journalists of color. Hosts have complained to the network’s leadership of pay disparities along racial and gender lines. Some say the network does not keep its promises and makes contract negotiations unnecessarily contentious. And several hosts concluded they were made to be the public face of NPR but did not have the network’s full support.”

However, Folkenflik adds that the interviews “yield a more complex issue.”

And it is true, as Folkenflik and others have pointed out, that many of those who departed NPR have gone on to good jobs, such as MSNBC and The New York Times, and that, “Hosting a traditional radio program no longer holds the same allure it did a generation ago, or even a decade ago. For many, it’s now a combination of old-school prestige and daily grind in an era of unrelentingly grim headlines.”

My Poynter colleague, Kelly McBride, wrote a detailed analysis in her latest column as NPR’s public editor. In her interviews with executives, current NPR staff, former staff and media-watchers close to public radio, McBride found three issues that have emerged:

  • Executives point to the increased demand for audio talent and particularly for Black and Latino journalists.
  • Critics from both inside and outside the network cite NPR’s historically slow progress on diversity.
  • There is a fatigue factor that is plaguing journalists everywhere — including NPR.

McBride added, “My reporting shows that all these factors have contributed to the host exodus, as well as other departures.”

But this is just a quick round-up of a meticulous and nuanced piece that you should read.

‘The Five’ gets a judge

Jeanine Pirro. (Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

Judge Jeanine Pirro has been named to a permanent seat on Fox News’ “The Five” — the 5 p.m. Eastern show that features five panelists discussing the politics and news of the day.

As The Daily Beast’s Jason Baragona wrote, Pirro gets the good gig “even though the longtime weekend host has been directly responsible for what is arguably the network’s biggest legal headache in years.”

Baragona is referring to Pirro being included in voting software company Smartmatic’s $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News and others. Pirro and Fox News have filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit.

Pirro was also suspended from her weekend show, “Justice with Jeanine,” in 2019 for Islamophobic comments she made about Rep. Ilhan Omar. Pirro has hosted “Justice with Jeanine” since 2011, but will leave that show to concentrate on “The Five.”

In addition to Pirro’s announcement, Fox News also said in its release that Harold Ford Jr., Geraldo Rivera, and Jessica Tarlov will take turns in what it called “the liberal seat.” Rivera? A liberal? Wasn’t it a few minutes ago that he thought about running for an Ohio Senate seat as a Republican?

In that statement, Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott said, “‘The Five’ continues to be a beloved show by the American audience. Each of the co-hosts are accomplished and insightful talents with diverse opinions and terrific chemistry who will certainly help drive this ensemble program going forward.”

Mr. Smith goes to …

For this item, I turn it over to Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds.

Evan Smith, who has run The Texas Tribune for all of its 13 years, announced Wednesday that he will be stepping down as CEO by the end of 2022. Katie Robertson of The New York Times broke the story.

Under his leadership, the Tribune rose to be big (50+ journalists) and highly respected both editorially and as a business. It also has acted as a model for dozens, if not hundreds, of other local and state-based news nonprofits that have proliferated over the last decade.

Smith, 55, told the Times that he had no firm plans for what he will do next but indicated that he expected to open another chapter in his journalism career.

When he co-founded the Tribune with venture capitalist John Thornton and political journalist Ross Ramsay in 2009, he had already spent more than 15 years at Texas Monthly. In addition to editing that top regional magazine, he hosted a regular public affairs interview program. That high profile helped the Tribune build momentum and move into hosting lucrative events including an annual Texas Tribune Festival.

No word right now on a successor or how the Tribune’s board of directors will pick one. Sewell Chan, formerly of the Los Angeles Times, joined the Tribune as editor-in-chief last October.

One more thing …

Smith is greatly respected in the journalism community, and I thought I would add this tweet from former Texas Tribune editor-in-chief Emily Ramshaw, co-founder and CEO of The 19th: “I’m not writing his obit because he’s not going anywhere yet, but suffice to say @evanasmith has changed the course of nonprofit journalism — and of my life. @TexasTribune won’t be the same without him, but it’s absolutely primed to succeed without him.”

What’s next for Michele Tafoya?

I wrote in Wednesday’s newsletter how Michele Tafoya is leaving NBC Sports as its NFL sidelines reporter following this season’s Super Bowl. There’s no word on what she’s going to do next, but she told The New York Post’s Ryan Glasspiegel, “If I wanted to stay in sports television, I wouldn’t be leaving. This is about opening a new chapter for me, so that’s really all I can say.”

Tafoya spent two days on ABC’s “The View” last November. And while she stirred up some controversy with comments on topics such as COVID-19 and Colin Kaepernick, it sounds like she enjoyed her time there.

She told Glasspiegel, “Generally, what I took out of that experience was an opportunity to go and flex some other muscles, and I didn’t get to flex them as much as you’d want to because there was just two days’ worth of appearance and in those two days, you can probably count the number of minutes in which I spoke. But it was an opportunity to just try something different and try something where I get to talk about other stuff. That was enjoyable for me and that was the biggest takeaway.”

Again, Tafoya isn’t saying what’s next, but she told Glasspiegel that it will include her opinions.

Inside scoop on the insiders

ESPN’s Adam Schefter. (AP Photo/Scot Tucker)

Hmm, interesting report from Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy and A.J. Perez. They are reporting that the sports website The Athletic, which is in the final stages of being sold to The New York Times, will make pitches to ESPN “insiders” Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski when their contracts expire this summer.

Schefter, who covers the NFL, and Wojnarowski, who covers the NBA, might be the best sports reporters in the business when it comes to covering player transactions, such as trades, drafts and free-agent signings.

McCarthy and Perez report ESPN wants to keep both of them. Another scoop-driven NBA reporter, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, also will draw lots of attention when his contract expires.

And it’s not just The Athletic/Times and ESPN who are interested in these reporters. Several companies with heavy gambling ties — such as DraftKings and Caesars Sportsbook — also could make pitches to the reporters.

CNN+ continues adding shows

CNN+, the streaming news service from CNN, will launch this spring and, on Wednesday, it announced three weekday shows:

  • “5 Things” will be hosted by CNN anchor Kate Bolduan and will count down the five stories you need to know each day. It’s based on CNN’s most successful newsletter and podcast called “5 Things.”
  • “The Big Picture” will be hosted by senior national correspondent Sara Sidner and offer what CNN calls “an in-depth contextual look at the most important and interesting story of the day.”
  • “Go There,” which is already available on CNN Digital properties, will be hosted by CNN’s domestic and international correspondents around the world and give viewers live coverage from important stories.

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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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