January 19, 2023

Donald Trump already has had his Twitter account reactivated. Now he wants his Facebook account back.

As you surely remember, Trump’s accounts with the social media giants were suspended following the Jan. 6 insurrection. Apparently, however, time and Elon Musk heal all transgressions.

NBC News’ Marc Caputo and Jonathan Allen reported Wednesday that Trump’s people have formally petitioned Meta, Facebook’s parent company, to open up his Facebook account once again. In a letter to Meta, the Trump campaign wrote, “We believe that the ban on President Trump’s account on Facebook has dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse.”

The letter also said, “Moreover, every day that President Trump’s political voice remains silenced furthers an inappropriate interference in the American political and election process.”

The Trump folks, at the very least, want a meeting with Facebook. At some point, Trump is going to want to hit the campaign trail and you would assume he wants to be active on social media before he does.

The only comment Meta made to NBC News was it will “announce a decision in the coming weeks in line with the process we laid out.”

Twitter banned Trump permanently following the Jan. 6 insurrection, but new Twitter boss Elon Musk reinstated Trump last November. Trump has yet to tweet. His last tweet was on Jan. 8, 2021 — just two days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — when he wrote that he would not attend Joe Biden’s inauguration. Since then, Trump has started his own social media network called Truth Social.

However, NBC News reports that Trump does plan on returning to Twitter and he and his team are game-planning his return and what his first tweet might look like.

Meanwhile, Facebook banned Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection and said it would review that ban after two years. Well, the second anniversary of the ban has just passed. Although Meta is only saying it will announce a decision soon, the feeling among most observers is that Trump’s Facebook account will be reinstated.

Grab a seat belt, it could get bumpy.

Money for nothing

One of the biggest media stories of the past year was the start up of a global news organization by New York Times media columnist Ben Smith and Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith (no relation).

They called it Semafor. It launched in October and is already making a splash in the media world.

It got off the ground thanks to some heavy-hitter investors. The biggest of all was Sam Bankman-Fried, who became Semafor’s largest outside investor by investing $10 million.

Then it all caved in for Bankman-Fried, whose crypto company went kaput and he became the target of the federal government for possible fraud.

So what about Semafor and all that money they took from him?

The New York Times’ Benjamin Mullin and David Yaffe-Bellany reported Wednesday that Semafor will buy out Bankman-Fried’s investment and look for new ways to raise money. In a statement, Justin Smith said, “We are planning to repurchase Sam Bankman-Fried’s interest in Semafor and to place the money into a separate account until the relevant legal authorities provide guidance as to where the money should be returned.”

Semafor is not the only media company that Bankman-Fried or his associates have invested in. Vox Media and ProPublica also have received money — money they said they would return after Bankman-Fried was arrested in December.

The Times wrote, “Until Semafor replaces Mr. Bankman-Fried’s investment, setting the cash aside would mean giving up the capital the company could have used for its early expansion.”

Weighing in with a good take

Columbia Journalism Review’s Jon Allsop spoke with former Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan, now teaching at Duke University, about the coverage of documents found in the former office and home of President Joe Biden. Some are trying to compare the Biden documents story to that of the documents found at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home even though there are clear differences. The biggest is that Biden’s people found the documents and turned them over, while Trump ignored subpoenas and was anything but cooperative.

Sullivan, as you would expect, had some smart analysis of the coverage.

Sullivan told Allsop, “I think to me the coverage seemed a little bit more intent on describing the differences (between the Trump and Biden cases) before the second group of classified documents (in the Biden case) was being reported on. When it was just, sort of, Ten documents; who knows how classified they were?, it was just a small thing compared to the three hundred or so that Trump took to Mar-a-Lago. Then, when the ones were discovered at his home and stored with his Corvette in his garage, that seemed to ramp it up, and I think somewhat understandably so.”

There’s no question that the Biden document story is one to cover. But Allsop asked Sullivan if the media coverage has been too much, especially when there are stories like, “There are no visitors’ logs to Biden’s home.”

Sullivan said, “I think that there’s a great desire to keep this story alive and to plumb the depths of it in a way that it may not really deserve, but that is what the news media, and particularly the political news media, tends to do, so it’s not surprising. But it is disheartening to see. Because as much as there is a contrast drawn — and as much as the coverage is about how these two things are not exactly alike — the fact remains that you come away from the deluge of coverage thinking, Wow, this is a huge story. And that’s less because of the content of the coverage and more because of the volume of the coverage and the prominence of the coverage. So when it leads the evening newscast on two of the three major networks, that sends a very strong signal. It sends a stronger signal than Ah, well, these things are not really the same. It seems to say, This is huge.”

Layoffs at Microsoft

Microsoft is laying off 10,000 workers from now through March. Wow, 10,000 — although that is only about 5% of its workforce of approximately 221,000.

The New York Times’ Karen Weise wrote, “With the cuts, Microsoft becomes the latest tech giant to pull back after a few years of frenetic hiring, when the pandemic-fueled surge in online services and the expansion of cloud computing created fierce competition for tech talent.”

Microsoft’s chief executive Satya Nadella told staff, the layoffs “are the kinds of hard choices we have made throughout our 47-year history to remain a consequential company in this industry that is unforgiving to anyone who doesn’t adapt to platform shifts.”

Powerful commentary

Philadelphia Flyers’ Ivan Provorov in a game on Sunday. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

On Tuesday night, players for the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League celebrated the team’s Pride Night. During pregame warmups, the Flyers players wore special jerseys in support of the LGBTQ+ community. One player did not participate in the warmups. Defenseman Ivan Provorov refused, saying after the game, “I respect everybody, and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my (Russian Orthodox) religion. That’s all I’m going to say.”

Media reaction — particularly among the hockey media — was strong and swift.

Charlie O’Connor, who covers the Flyers for The Athletic, wrote that Provorov’s actions turned the night into a “shell of its intended self and an embarrassing episode.”

Veteran (and very well respected) hockey journalist Pierre LeBrun retweeted Provorov’s quote and wrote, “But Provorov obviously does not respect ‘everyone’. If he did respect everyone, he would have taken part in warm-up and worn the Pride Night jersey. Don’t hide behind religion.”

Gord Miller, another veteran journalist and respected announcer in Canada, tweeted, “1. Ivan Provorov had the right to refuse to participate in the Pride Night activities in Philadelphia. 2. The Flyers should have responded by not allowing him to play in the game. 3. Freedom of expression doesn’t give you freedom from the consequences of your words or actions.”

It was good to see hockey journalists — especially those with powerful voices in the industry — take such strong stances about a sport that has an inclusive motto of “Hockey Is For Everyone,” but has struggled with diversity over the years.

Part of the NHL’s statement said, “Players are free to decide which initiatives to support, and we continue to encourage their voices and perspectives on social and cultural issues.”

Especially powerful were these comments by Sid Seixeiro, who co-hosts “Breakfast Television” in Canada. Seixeiro, in part, criticized the Flyers for allowing Provorov to play in the game. He said, “The theme is not Hockey Is For Everyone dot dot dot unless you don’t believe in gay rights then do whatever you want.”

Seixeiro said the NHL needs to figure out how to have nights like this without offending people when the point is to do the exact opposite of offending people. It’s about embracing and welcoming everyone. Seixiero then asked what the reaction would have been if a player had refused to wear a jersey for military appreciation.

In Philadelphia, Marcus Hayes, a sports columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote, “There will be some who will equate that asking Ivan Provorov to skate in a Pride-themed jersey Tuesday night was like forcing him to kneel during the national anthem back in 2016. That’s ridiculous, of course. Kneeling protested systemic racism aimed at Black men in the criminal justice system of the United States. Meanwhile, warming up in a jersey with rainbow numbers and nameplates simply supported the right of LGBTQ+ people all over the world to exist without persecution. For anyone, that’s pretty simple. So, let’s not complicate the issue. Provorov refused to warm up Tuesday night against Anaheim because he does not support the right of LGBTQ+ people to even exist.”

That’s debatable

It’s not too early to start thinking about next year’s presidential debates. The New York Times’ Michael M. Grynbaum and John Koblin report the Republican Party, which will likely start debates this summer, is willing to talk to pretty much any network — outside of MSNBC, it appears. So, yes, even CNN might get consideration, along with the usual suspects: ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News. Newsmax and NewsNation might even get a shot at it. The Times reports networks are expected to make proposals next month.

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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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