How a Pentagon flack got busted after ripping off a nanny
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It's tough enough covering the Pentagon without worrying whether a spokesman may steal your license plates. But you might now wonder after a mystery was solved involving disappearing plates in a tranquil Capitol Hill neighborhood. (The Washington Post) It began when a nanny found this note on her windshield: “I know you are misusing this visitor pass to park here daily. If you do not stop I will report it, have your car towed and the resident who provided this to you will have his privileges taken away.”
We all know about urban tensions over parking spaces, like the jerks who use chairs to "save" empty spots near their homes during snowstorms. But the nanny was parked totally legally. Two days later, the license plates were lifted from her SUV. Then another plate was stolen. It happened one more time but, by then, the couple that employs her caught the culprit with a video camera they'd stuck on their home's front window.
He's Bryan Whitman, 58, and a veteran Pentagon official who's "the highest-ranking career civilian in the Defense Department’s public affairs office." He's principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs and now faces three counts of misdemeanor theft. Under a deal, the case would be dismissed "if he pays $1,000 in restitution, performs 32 hours of community service, remains out of trouble for the next 10 months and stays away both from the nanny and the woman for whom she works."
There's an obvious warning here for the Pentagon press corps (and perhaps ISIS, too): take public transportation. It may be easier for the world's biggest military to steal your license plates than your fare card.
Lousy vetting by the media
So the Donald Trump campaign came out with a short online video in which former students praise Trump University. "Michelle Gunn, introduced in the video as an entrepreneur and real estate investor, says 'we never felt pressured to do anything we didn't want to do.' Gunn raises the possibility that unhappy former Trump University students did not take sufficient action to apply what they learned in the real world." (The Washington Post). Gunn quickly surfaced on TV, too,
But journalist-entrepreneur Steve Brill caught her on TV and, having written about Trump University litigation for TIME, wondered if anybody had thought for two seconds to vet her. (@StevenBrill) Why? Trump gave an interview to her son and blurbed his book, "Schooled for Success." (Upstart Business Journal)
Shafting Fox News
The homogeneity of cable news was broken slightly this morning. CNN and MSNBC went with the latest campaign food fights, with the former going heavy on Donald Trump calling the Clintons "crooked people" and MSNBC praising Barack Obama as looking "presidential" as he derided Trump in Indiana. Trump "is regressing as a political candidate," Joe Scarborough conceded, deriding the candidate's hat. But at "Fox and Friends," it was an issue closer to home: The State Department admitting it intentionally cut from its website and YouTube channel portions of a Dec. 2, 2013 briefing in which Fox reporter James Rosen asked if State had deliberately lied about secret talks with Iran. (The Washington Post) This is outrageous, even if the official written transcript has continued to contain the exchange. Rosen is the same reporter who was a subject of a "chilling" Obama administration leak investigation involving a 2009 story of his on North Korea planning to launch a missile because it was miffed with UN condemnation of its nuclear tests. (The New York Times)
Extra Crispy strategy at TIME
"Time Inc. announced a new vertical on Wednesday devoted to all foods consumed in the morning. It's called Extra Crispy." (Poynter) "Time Inc. must have noticed that food content, particularly breakfast-related content, does extremely well on social media." (Ad Age) An executive says the company felt it had "some white space" in this genre. He acknowledged, too, "the obvious about the shareability of food content online, exemplified by the mozzarella stick onion rings and breakfast biscuit fries that BuzzFeed food channel Tasty has ridden to viral success."
Bloomberg's wunderkind hire
Bloomberg hired Mark Gurman, 22, a tech "scoop machine" for 9to5Mac. He graduated from the University of Michigan last month. He'll cover consumer products. (Recode) He's "made a name for himself as the go-to guy for Apple product scoops," having "broken stories on the iPad, Siri and almost every other device in the Apple catalogue."
Meditation tips from Lena Dunham
Going online and meditating might seem a slight contradiction in terms. But you can do it with the help of Dunham and video of her relaxing. (Vogue) And if you personally tend to kick back while wearing baggy nylon shorts and a 30 percent polyester T-shirt you got at a 5K charity run, she does it (at least here) wearing "a Trademark ruffle fil coupe shirt, $448, trade-mark.com and Rag & Bone 10-inch crop jeans in Stark, $225, rag-bone.com." If you can afford that, you can certainly afford to relax, too.
A seasoned Trump observer's take
Wayne Barrett has observed and reported on Donald Trump for 40 years starting with Barrett's tenure as a Village Voice reporter. "He believes in the power of seduction, especially his own. And it's not just women he thinks he can seduce. But if the seduction isn't working, the threat is always there. He doesn't begin to take you seriously until you show him a reason." (Vox)
A symbolic showdown in Los Angeles
Tribune Publishing will hold its annual meeting today at a law office where some unhappy shareholders will voice chagrin with its fending off a takeover by Gannett. The likely outcome: with some corporate governance analysts shaking their heads (and some concurring), new Tribune boss Michael Ferro will easily ram through his slate of directors. (Poynter) Gannett offered $15 a share, Ferro said no, and the stock closed at $11.59 yesterday. A New York hedge fund that just bought 2 million shares did it too late to vote today. (Crain's)
A hot newsletter
I'm not the least bit envious. "21st Century Fox led an $8 million investment in theSkimm, owner of the popular newsletter Daily Skimm, providing funds that the company will use to create a studio for the production of original videos. Joining Fox in the funding round are existing investors RRE Ventures, Greycroft Partners and Homebrew, according to a statement from the companies Wednesday." (Ad Age) "More than 3.5 million people subscribe to Daily Skimm," which is a very short, breezy summary of what's going in the world. That's 3.5 million. Subscribers pay $2.99 a month to update their calendars with world events. Again, that's 3.5 million readers for an effort that can't be confused with Foreign Policy magazine or a David Brooks musing on the latest pedagogy from the Academy and its relationship to purported cultural change. But I'm not jealous.
A Newt nugget
"Hillary is Obama plus corruption," Newt Gingrich told Sean Hannity last night. The host, who has declared he'll vote for Trump, responded as if he were a college freshman in the thrall of a Nobel laureate. "I wish I'd thought of it. Can I steal it?" In a fit of magnanimity, the former House Speaker said he could. Hannity is Gingrich plus (rhetorical) theft.
Bill Weld redux
Profiling the former Massachusetts governor running as the Libertarian vice presidential candidate, the prolific Charles P. Pierce writes, "Beneath the lopsided grins and the self-deprecation and the occasional glass of what he always called 'the amber-colored liquids,' Bill Weld is a man of considerable conscience and considerable substance. But he does not brag about any of that because, my dear young man, it simply is...not...done. Both qualities are more than welcome in this particular election year and, if this is really Bill Weld's last hurrah — a reference, I suspect, that would delight him — then I hope he makes the most of it. It's good to have him back (Esquire)
Death in Arkansas
"Arkansas State Police reported that Gary Digiuseppe, 60, of Maumelle, and Felecia Stevenson, 28, died during a collision on the I-430 Bridge. The woman was apparently driving northbound around 3:45 a.m. in the southbound lanes on the bridge when her car hit Digiuseppe’s head on." He was a reporter at KARN-FM in Little Rock. (KTHV)
Grilling tips for summer
Prep your grill with salt and water, make sure the coals flame out, don't feel compelled to flip the asparagus and don't position whole fish or filets weighing more than three pounds directly over the heat source. Got it? These and other summer grilling tips can be found in a fun June-long photo gallery of grilling tips in the Chicago Tribune. (Chicago Tribune) Put aside the presidential campaign, terrorist mayhem and state budget crises and turn to that enduring media staple of journalism: our stomachs. Every day in June, there'll be "a fresh piece of advice on how to make the most of your summer barbecues." You can read about the latest homicides elsewhere.
Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
Mark Gurman will be a reporter at Bloomberg. Previously, he was a senior editor at 9to5Mac. (Recode) | Nellie Bowles will be a technology correspondent for VICE News. Previously, she was a reporter at The Guardian. Ben Craw is now a video producer at VICE News. Previously, he was a video editor at The Huffington Post. Roberto Ferdman is economics correspondent at VICE News. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Washington Post. Melissa Maerz will be a senior producer for culture at VICE News. She is a TV critic at Entertainment Weekly. Jon Strauss is now a shooter and producer at VICE News. Previously, he was a shooter and editor for The Huffington Post. Craig Thomson is now a senior planning producer at VICE News. Previously, he was head of planning for Al Jazeera America. (Email) | Rob King will join the board of the Center for Investigative Reporting. He is senior vice president for ESPN’s SportsCenter. (Email) | Job of the day: InsideSources is looking for policy reporters. Get your resumes in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: A previous version of this newsletter misspelled "flack." We apologize for the error.