October 13, 2022

Good Friday morning. First, a heads up. There will be no Poynter Report on Friday. I will return on Monday. Now onto today’s edition.

We start by looking back at NBC News’ interview with John Fetterman, the Pennsylvania Democratic candidate for senator — which is still getting plenty of reaction. (Here’s the full interview.)

Fetterman is recovering from a stroke he suffered in May and NBC News’

Dasha Burns interviewed him for segments that ran on Tuesday’s “NBC Nightly News” and Wednesday’s “Today” show. Fetterman answered Burns’ oral questions after reading them written out on a computer screen. He told Burns, “I sometimes will hear things in a way that’s not perfectly clear. So I use captioning so I’m able to see what you’re saying on the captioning.”

Burns came under question when she said that during small talk with Fetterman before the interview, “it wasn’t clear he understood what I was saying.”

Podcaster Kara Swisher tweeted that sounded like “nonsense” because she interviewed Fetterman recently with no issues and that maybe Burns was just “bad at small talk.”

Burns responded by tweeting, “It’s possible for two different reporters to have two different experiences w a candidate. Our team was in the room w him & reported what happened in it, as journalists do. Before & after closed captioning was on.”

On Wednesday’s “Today” show, Burns told host Savannah Guthrie that just because Fetterman used captioning doesn’t mean he has comprehension issues.

She said, “Stroke experts do say that this does not mean he has any cognitive impairment. Doesn’t mean his memory or his cognitive condition is impaired, and he didn’t fully recover from this. And once the closed captioning was on, he was able to fully understand my questions.”

Burns tweeted, “We were happy to accommodate closed captioning. Our reporting did not and should not comment on fitness for office. This is for voters to decide. What we do push for as reporters is transparency. It’s our job. Fetterman sat down and answered our questions. That’s his job.”

Still, some wonder that if Fetterman has no issues understanding the questions when they are written out and can answer them, even with a mispronounced word here or there, then why bring it up? Some ask if it’s any different than a candidate who is deaf and reading off a screen. Or using a hearing aid.

Or, think of it this way: Fetterman has a temporary disability, but is able to compensate for it by using technology. That technology allows him to do his job competently and fully to the point that it ceases to be a disability.

USA Today columnist Connie Schultz tweeted, “As he continues to recover, @JohnFetterman used technology to help him answer a reporter’s questions. How we as journalists frame this reveals more about us than it does him.”

By all other accounts, Fetterman is carrying on as usual.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Max Marin and Julia Terruso wrote Wednesday, “Fetterman has ramped up his campaign activity recently, often holding several large rallies a week, along with a handful of smaller meetings with community members. At the rallies, he speaks without a teleprompter, and has taken to preempting criticisms about verbal stumbles by telling the audience he knows his opponent, Republican Mehmet Oz, hopes to use those gaffes against him. ‘I guarantee it, there’s at least one person here filming me, hoping to catch me missing some words,’ he said at a rally in Bucks on Sunday. While it’s clear he struggles to get some words out, his stump speeches have seemed more fluid since August when he first returned to the trail.”

Marin and Terruso added, “While NBC News billed its sit-down as an exclusive, Fetterman has done a number of interviews with media outlets since his return to the campaign trail, but this is the first to focus heavily on his speech issues.”

Fetterman had another high-profile video interview on Wednesday with the editorial board of

Fetterman tweeted, “Just finished an hour-long endorsement interview with the @PennLive editorial board – you can watch the whole thing below. Dr. Oz skipped it. I had a stroke, and I showed up. What’s your excuse @DrOz?”

Today’s agenda

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection will have another hearing today. It could be the committee’s final public hearing.

The Washington Post’s Carol D. Leonnig and Jacqueline Alemany report that the hearing “is expected to highlight newly obtained Secret Service records showing how President Donald Trump was repeatedly alerted to brewing violence that day, and he still sought to stoke the conflict.”

Leonnig and Alemany added, “The committee plans to share in Thursday’s hearing new video footage and internal Secret Service emails that appear to corroborate parts of the most startling inside accounts of that day, said the people briefed, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal records. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified in June that Trump was briefed on Jan. 6 that some of his supporters were armed for battle, demanded they be allowed into his rally and insisted he wanted to lead them on their march to the Capitol.”

For more, check out MSNBC’s Ja’han Jones with “Here’s what to watch for in Thursday’s ‘final’ Jan. 6 hearing.”

Gannett troubles

Another grim day at Gannett. Poynter’s Angela Fu reports that Gannett will require employees to take one week of unpaid leave in December and that they are seeking volunteers for buyouts. In addition, the company has paused overall hiring and will temporarily suspend making contributions to employee 401(k) accounts starting later this month.

In a staffwide email, Gannett CEO Mike Reed said, “These are truly challenging times. The company continues to face headwinds and uncertainty from the deteriorating macroeconomic environment which has led the executive team to take further immediate action.”

Gannett is the nation’s largest newspaper chain with more than 200 print papers. Read Fu’s story for more details.

Kanye West’s comments will not air

“The Shop” — the former HBO show that now airs on YouTube and is run by LeBron James and Maverick Carter — will not air an episode that was taped because of comments made by guest Kanye West.

In a statement to Andscape’s Justin Tinsley, Carter said:

“Yesterday we taped an episode of The Shop with Kanye West. Kanye was booked weeks ago and, after talking to Kanye directly the day before we taped, I believed he was capable of a respectful discussion and he was ready to address all his recent comments. Unfortunately, he used The Shop to reiterate more hate speech and extremely dangerous stereotypes.

“We have made the decision not to air this episode or any of Kanye’s remarks. While The Shop embraces thoughtful discourse and differing opinions, we have zero tolerance for hate speech of any kind and will never allow our channels to be used to promote hate.

“I take full responsibility for believing Kanye wanted a different conversation and apologize to our guests and crew. Hate speech should never have an audience.”

Tinsley reports that sources told him that West doubled down on his recent anti-Semitic remarks. Tinsley said that James was not at the taping of the episode.

As Awful Announcing’s ​​Andrew Bucholtz notes it’s good that “The Shop” killed the episode. “But,” Bucholtz wrote, “their decision to give West a potential platform after his recent remarks is certainly an interesting one.”

Saying the right thing

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is examined for a concussion during a game on Sept. 29. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

During Sunday’s NFL game between the Tampa Bay Bucs and Atlanta Falcons, there was a controversial roughing-the-passer penalty committed against Bucs star quarterback Tom Brady. It was controversial because most agree that it wasn’t a penalty.

At the time, ESPN’s Mike Greenberg tweeted, “The roughing call they just gave to Brady might be the most embarrassingly bad NFL call in five years. And there is zero chance they call it for any other quarterback.”

The next night, during “Monday Night Football,” another dubious roughing-the-pass penalty was called in the Chiefs-Raiders game.

By Wednesday morning, however, Greenberg had changed his message about the calls. On the show he hosts — “Get Up” — Greenberg said the NFL is merely looking out for its players following Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffering possibly two concussions after being roughhoused to the ground twice in a span of four days.

Greenberg said, “I’m going to say something I have a fear is going to be extremely unpopular. But the NFL is doing the exact right thing with these calls. Two weeks ago, the National Football League had a moment that everyone in the world saw on a Thursday night where one of their highest-profile players, Tua Tagovailoa, was lying in a fetal position and we all saw how incredibly frightening that was. The following morning, ‘Get Up’ spent two hours talking about it. It was the highest-rated Friday we’ve had the entire season, and Robin Roberts is talking about it on ‘Good Morning America.’ This Monday, after the Brady play, we spent five minutes talking about what we thought was a bad call and Robin Roberts was talking about the midterm elections.”

Greenberg added, “That’s what the NFL wants. They’re much better off with a call we deem bad than having moments like the one with Tua. And if it means they have to err on the side of caution and every now and again it leads to a flag we don’t like, that is actually the right thing to do.”

Good for Greenberg for not only backing away from his original complaints about roughing-the-passer calls, but for using his powerful platform to stick up for, ultimately, player safety. By admitting that his commentary might be “extremely unpopular,” Greenberg certainly shows he knows his audience is full of diehard football fans. But that didn’t stop him from saying the right thing.

When push comes to shove

Another note from this week’s “Monday Night Football” game. After the Raiders’ loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City, Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams was running off the field when a credentialed photographer cut in front of him.

Instead of stopping or avoiding the photographer, who was working as a freelancer for ESPN, Adams shoved the man to the ground.

On Wednesday, Adams was charged with misdemeanor assault. He was cited for an “intentional, overt act” that inflicted “bodily injury.” The photographer, according to records, suffered whiplash, a headache and a possible concussion from the incident.

After Monday’s game, Adams had tweeted, “Sorry to the guy I pushed over after the game. Obviously very frustrated at the way the game ended and when he ran in front of me as I exited that was my reaction and I felt horrible immediately. Thats not me..MY APOLOGIES man hope you see this.”

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Adams could be disciplined by the NFL.

What did you order?

OK, sometimes we have to lighten things up just a little. While talking about “how bad” inflation is, Fox Business contributor Scott Martin said on the air Wednesday that he spent $28 eating lunch at Taco Bell.

Wait, what? 28 bucks?

Even anchor Neil Cavuto said, “You spent $28 at Taco Bell for just yourself?”

The comments under the clip in the tweet that I linked to are priceless, especially if you’re cool with potty humor.

And just for fun, podcaster and Crooked Media co-founder Jon Lovett figured out what you would have to order to spend $28 at a New York City Taco Bell. You would have to get the 3 Crunchy Tacos Supreme Combo, one Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos, one Quesarito, one Beefy Melt Burrito and one Mexican Pizza.

Either Martin was mistaken or exaggerating, or he needs to not eat so much for lunch.

Media tidbits

(Courtesy: CBS News)

  • Tonight, the CBS News Race & Culture Unit presents “CBS Reportes: El Poder” — a 30-minute special premiering on the CBS News Streaming Network at 8 p.m. Eastern. CBS News correspondent and weekend anchor Adriana Diaz will anchor the special from Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. The special will include original reporting and interviews examining the cultural diversity and increasing power of Latino voters ahead of the 2022 midterm elections and the 2024 presidential election.
  • The Associated Press’ Dave Collins with “Alex Jones ordered to pay $965 million for Sandy Hook lies.”
  • In an adaptation from her memoir, former Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan with “If Trump Runs Again, Do Not Cover Him the Same Way: A Journalist’s Manifesto.”
  • Associated Press executive editor Julie Pace was in Tampa this week, talking to Poynter president Neil Brown at a public event. Pace told Brown, “I hear all the time people saying, ‘Gosh if only there was a news organization that … wanted to cover the facts and cared about local news.’ And hey, we’re right here. There is a public interest and premium for the exact kind of journalism that we do.” Poynter’s Angela Fu has more on the conversation.
  • Axios’ Sara Fischer with “Google approves Truth Social for Play Store.”

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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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