Donald Trump's Twitzkrieg goes after The New York Times
- Getting personal about the personal
Donald Trump is the Floyd Mayweather of presidential candidates. He's a wicked counterpuncher who flaunts his wealth in as tacky a fashion as the boxer who posts photos of himself with stacks of money and only wears shoes once.
Trump was in characteristic form Monday, a Man in Full (of himself) with an evidence-free assault on The New York Times' implication that he's a slimeball with women. His latest Twitzkrieg included, "Over 50 women were interviewed by the @nytimes yet they only wrote about 6. That’s because there were so many positive statements." (@realDonaldTrump) There were many more. Trump's reaction only served to drive traffic back to the story, The Times' most popular so far this year, even as one of his attorneys hinted at the possibility of a lawsuit Tuesday morning. (CNN)
But there was lots of back and forth, too, among members of the media. In part it was about whether Trump had turned the tables. CNN's Dylan Byers and Brian Stelter seemed to think so. "Trump seemingly succeeded in shifting scrutiny away from himself and back onto the media. He does so by capitalizing on any uncertainty in the reporting and then aggressively calling attention to it." (CNN) Glenn Thrush of POLITICO demurred: "Doesn't matter who won a news cycle IN MAY. Story is true. Trump's (complex) attitudes towards women will be major part of '16." Trump himself was speed-dialing media in an effort to spin an eminently malleable press. (The Washington Post)
The Fox News daylong derision of The Times did include Megyn Kelly, who's morphed from Trump antagonist into an incipient enabler. She interviews him on her Barbara Walters-like special on the main Fox network tonight as those cable countdown clocks tick toward the Kentucky and Oregon primaries. She was only fleetingly deflected during her evening show by Barbara Res, a onetime top Trump construction executive, who said that Trump did become a jerk with women over time and it's one reason she's going to vote for Hillary Clinton.
Among those scratching their heads at the coverage itself is Susan Milligan, a senior writer at U.S. News & World Report whom I met in Bulgaria while covering a Bill Clinton presidential trek long ago (she was a freelancer in Sofia). "What's stunning to me is how the media is buying into this idea that there's some equality to Bill Clinton having affairs and Trump's incredibly offensive description of women, including his own wives," she told me. "As though because they both involve women and sexuality, they're basically the same thing."
Yup. There wasn't much logic to any of it. In the case of The Donald, if a baby can't take what he dishes out, he should just take his football and head home. Then, again, he'd presumably be tweeting from the prone position there and speed-dial the morning shows as an engaged private citizen with a potty mouth and his ball.
- Warren Buffett bets $1.1 billion on Apple
After surprising the world with a big stake in Yahoo, he's buying a big chunk of Apple. (CNBC) It's probably not so dumb, even after recent Apple stumbles. "There are just two analysts among the 50 monitored by Bloomberg who recommend selling the stock." (Bloomberg)
- Gannett hikes its offer for Tribune, as Cramer takes note
Gannett raised an all-cash offer for Tribune Publishing to about $15 a share from $12.25 for stock that was around $8 three months ago. (Poynter) "So now the question is, is it really about money for Tribune or does newly crowned chairman and largest shareholder Michael Ferro just not want to relinquish his throne? It's hard to see how a $15 offer isn’t attractive, financially speaking." (Bloomberg) Meanwhile, Gannett claims not to have any staffing cuts in its plan "at the moment." (Crain's) One might be as naive as the George Pataki presidential campaign to believe that a famously efficient company would find sufficient savings in just printing and distribution after spending big on a set of declining enterprises. "What would Tribune be waiting for? How would they possibly get to $15 on their own?" CNBC's never-shy Jim Cramer said. "I just think this is a windfall." (TheStreet)
- Iraq's educational use of social media
"If you’re one of the many thousands of sixth-graders taking a series of national exams in Iraq this month, it’s not just the building. The Internet is down in most of the country — and it’s because of the exams themselves." (The Atlantic) This involves an annual tussle between test administrators and student cheaters using handheld devices. "But the Iraqi government has taken the sledgehammer approach to the problem: This is the second year in a row that it has ordered Iraqi telecom companies to shut down to the Internet in order to prevent cheating, according to human-rights groups." Hey, Iraqis, isn't your hard-fought democracy great?
- Meet the Google strategist going after Facebook's mobile ads
She's Sissie Hsiao, whose "primary weapon is a tool called universal app campaigns, which lets app developers promote apps across a bunch of Google properties — search, the Play app store, mobile YouTube videos — if they fork over money and let Google automate the spending. After slowly unfurling the tool last fall, Google is going strong, placing it at the center of its strategy to claim the ad type that shows no signs of relenting." (Recode)
- High-profile exit in Los Angeles
"Acclaimed music and culture writer Sasha Frere-Jones has abruptly exited the L.A. Times after less than a year amid allegations of expense-account shenanigans involving a strip club and accepting expensive freebies from sources. (The Wrap) The former New Yorker writer is also accused of accepting "a luxury trip sponsored by Dom Pérignon to The Joshua Tree National Park in April," but ultimately cancelled.
- Drug addiction a new media high
The Wall Street Journal chronicled the rising deaths from drug overdoses on Saturday, the Chicago Sun-Times on Sunday detailed important changes in prosecution tactics in dealing with heroin and, last night, CBS News began a solid-looking series of a similar frightening vein. (CBS) As had the Journal, it underscored how "The frightening rates of overdoses are fueled by a mix of heroin and an opioid called fentanyl — 30 to 50 times as powerful as heroin itself."
- 'Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew'
The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol, who is an old childhood chum, is many things including a favorite of TV producers for iconoclastic views and (often errant) predictions about Republican politics. But "renegade Jew?" That was the headline in Breitbart on a story written by a notorious Jewish conspiracy theorist, David Horowitz. "A paragraph seemingly tacked on at the end accuses Kristol of putting world Jewry in danger by potentially splitting the Republican vote and empowering Democrats who are soft on radical Islam." (Slate) Does this present some sort of plausible deniability in suggesting merely that Horowitz is targeting him on behalf of Jews, not as a Jew himself. Hmmm. It's Trumpian.
- Mika and Joe feted
Do they test for performance-enhancing drugs when assessing eligibility for the Cable Hall of Fame? Do they have an Old Timers Committee, too, just like Major League Baseball? Whether or not, MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough were inducted last night in Boston. They're deemed "transformative" figures. They did attend and were thus late for their show this morning. Clearly they didn't heed Groucho Marx, whose letter of resignation to the Friars’ Club declared, “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.”
- A disappointing disclosure
Shane Black, director of “Iron Man 3,” revealed "that the original villain in the third installment of the Iron Man franchise received a gender-swap before going into production." In an early draft, a female was the villain. (Variety) “We had finished the script and we were given a no-holds-barred memo saying ‘that cannot stand and we’ve changed our minds because, after consulting, we’ve decided that toy won’t sell as well if it’s a female,'” Black added."
- Jacking up the sponsored content
Here's one that didn't come up on the sidelines of my little one's coach-pitch ball game the other day: How is The Washington Post feeling the impact of digital prominence? "The WP BrandStudio said it has doubled the number of advertisers that are running sponsored content campaigns in the past 12 months, and that it is landing more national clients including Dell, GE, JP Morgan Chase, Siemens, UPS, Lockheed, Audi and FX 'The Americans.'" (Digiday) It's got about 50 staffers, including editors and writers. It falls short of The New York Times, "whose T Brand Studio has more than 90 staffers and has done more than 151 campaigns with advertisers since its December 2013 launch."
- Oh, about the latest Trump firestorm
"The shocking overuse of 'firestorm' and 'firestorm of controversy' says something bad about our current political discourse and the news coverage that follows it. Rather than thoughtful nuanced reporting on the issues, it suggests that certain journalists have turned themselves into firestorm trackers. Where journalists were once oversensitive to gaffes, they now seem more intent on following the angry reaction or defense of those gaffes, especially through social media like Twitter." (Poynter)
- Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
Allan Beaufour is now senior vice president of engineering at The New York Times. Previously, he was head of engineering at Sum, a healthcare startup. (Poynter) | Debra Lee is joining Twitter's board. She is Chairman and CEO of BET. (TechCrunch) | Colorado Public Radio is looking for a digital assistant news editor. Get your resumes in! (Poynter Media Jobs Connection) | Send Ben your job moves: firstname.lastname@example.org.