Jake Tapper and The Huffington Post spar over Trump coverage

Good morning.

  1. Is trashing him 'elitism?'
    The Huffington Post caused a stir, ranging from praise for high-mindedness to scorn for facile editorial bravado, when it decided early on to cover Donald Trump as entertainment. Now CNN’s Jake Tapper argues that the unceasing mocking of Trump by Huffington and The New York Daily News is a function of business, not journalism decisions. "They think that will appeal to readers and allow them to carve out a niche to get clicks or have newspapers purchased,” he said. "I think journalistically, to not take Donald Trump seriously is a mistake. And I think journalistically to attack people who support a candidate is the very height of elitism. These are Americans exercising their right to vote and it’s important to go out and meet them and talk to them and find out why they’re supporting the candidates they’re supporting. It’s not my approach to journalism." (The Wrap)

    On Friday, Tapper told me he was specifically targeting recent headlines that mocked those who vote for Trump. (Tapper) Sent Tapper's original remarks, which included that belief, Huffington Post Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim had told me Thursday, "I think that many of Trump's voters have very legitimate reasons for being angry. Throughout our history, though, demagogues have exploited very raw and real anxieties and transformed them into malevolent forces for their own political or economic gain. That was the phenomenon we were calling out. People are not born racist, they have to have it hammered into them, and that's what Trump is doing." At minimum, this will launch 1,000 future graduate journalism school seminars and pedantic papers in unread political science journals by young doctoral aspirants. For those dissecting the processes of campaigns and press, the Trump phenomenon will be huge.

  2. Best homeopathic headline ever
    "Homeopathy: The Air Guitar of Medicine — This subhead contains as many active ingredients as your sugar pill." (Gadgette)
  3. The Clinton-Sanders debate
    Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill were very good moderating last night's mostly mellow Democratic debate in Milwaukee. Conventional wisdom: briefly spirited but overall civil, relatively substantive, Sanders more passionate, Clinton more monkish, Clinton claiming Sanders not loyal to President Obama and Sanders offering an improbable quick and negative primer on Henry Kissinger after Clinton heralded the long-ago Secretary of State who backs her.

    Clinton portrayed Sanders as touting totally impractical notions. (POLITICO) He said she'd struck "a low blow" in calling him disloyal. (The Hill) It "highlighted anew the fundamental fault line between the two candidates for the Democratic nomination" (The Washington Post) She was "Calm, Cool and Effective" despite her big New Hampshire loss (The New York Times) but confirmed "the establishment narrative surrounding her campaign." (Salon) Fox News seemed alarmed by their unity "in their criticism of America’s criminal justice system" (Fox News), while The Atlantic was unenthused by all: "Just a few weeks ago, everyone was clamoring for more Democratic debates, but after watching this one, it’s a little tough to recall why." (The Atlantic) And this personnel postscript: Not just PBS' moderators but its three on-air pundits were all female.

  4. Did Al Jazeera fail because it was on cable?
    The prevailing take on the impending demise of Al Jazeera America tends to focus on "internal disputes, discrimination, racism, bias, and even the decline of its price of oil. All of these explanations are wrong." (Broadcasting & Cable) Joe Mohen, a digital media entrepreneur, argues that an excellent product failed due to selecting the wrong distribution channel, namely cable TV, in its search for a younger audience.

    It's an interesting thesis but may miss the extent to which cable remains potent, as viewed by VICE Media and others (including right-wing pundit Glenn Beck with The Blaze) moving into cable. There are many reasons to do so, such as a fairly palatable rate of decline in advertising rates and the ability to possibly get pretty got per-subscriber fees from cable companies like Comcast.

  5. 'Hardball's' favorite primary takes big turn
    David Trone, a wealthy Maryland businessman, has entered an already crowded field in the April 26 Democratic congressional primary in Maryland's 8th District. (Bethesda Magazine) It's a wide-open race, with the incumbent democrat exiting to run for a U.S. Senate seat.

    The field includes Kathleen Matthews, a flack for Marriott and a former longtime local Washington TV anchor. Her husband is cable star Chris Matthews. "Should Trone decide to run," The Washington Post wrote when rumors surfaced, "it would not be good news for Matthews, who is courting the kind of support from the business community that Trone could also claim. Trone might diminish Matthews’s fundraising advantage. She had taken in more than $1 million through Sept. 30, aided by a network of corporate and political contacts developed in tandem with her husband, Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s 'Hardball.'" (The Washington Post)

    This primary takes place on the day of the state's presidential contest. Chris Matthews has taken what some see as a very pro-Hillary Clinton stance. His wife's seemingly biggest opponent so far, some believe, is Jamie Raskin, who is very pro-Bernie Sanders. Presumably Kathleen Matthews could benefit from any heavy pro-Clinton vote in the district, which presumably has a few MSNBC viewers. But let's see what Trone's entry will do and whether money or a well-known name actually carry the day.

  6. The adoration of social media
    Media lead the charge in exploiting social media, seen as critical in maintaining journalism revenues. But everybody pushing those unavoidable strategies might also look around their homes and wonder about the impact on interpersonal and family relations. Notice how kids don't often use smartphones to actually talk to one another out loud? The subject is at the core of "We Are Hopelessly Hooked," a dandy if disquieting essay by Slate boss Jacob Weisberg that reviews four books on social media.

    It includes noting both the industry that produces apps meant to distract youth and parents who selfishly blow their responsibilities. "As long as software engineers are able to deliver free, addictive products directly to children, parents who are themselves compulsive users have little hope of asserting control." (The New York Review of Books)

  7. MTV's talent search
    "MTV, looking to reclaim the grip it held on youth culture with personalities like correspondent Kurt Loder, has hired several journalists, including veterans from Grantland and the New Republic, to reinvigorate the Viacom Inc. cable network’s news organization." (Bloomberg) The notion here is to revive a news division, which was once seen as strong on pop culture and younger-skewing political journalism, "to prop up a network that has suffered significant losses in viewers."
  8. 'Counter speech'
    Facebook is developing a strategy to remove hate speech and violent posts: "counter speech." It means trying to "discredit extremist views with posts, images and videos of their own. There’s no precise definition, but some people point to a 2014 effort by a German group to organize 100,000 people to bombard neo-Nazi pages on Facebook with 'likes' and nice comments." Facebook has tried letting onetime members of right-wing and extremist Islamic groups create fake accounts (usually barred by Facebook) "to send private messages to current members of those groups." There's no evidence of this potentially being very effective. (The Wall Street Journal)
  9. Great photos finally seen
    As part of a wonderful online "Unpublished Black History" series, The New York Times is running photos from its archives that hadn't seen the light of day. (Poynter) This installment highlighted a stunning tennis upset by then-little known Arthur Ashe in 1964 as players battled on a grass court in New Jersey using wood racquets. The paper's story that next day featured a photo of the star player, Dennis Ralston, whom upstart Ashe defeated, but no image of the subsequently path-breaking African-American. (The New York Times) That's game, set, match for this week. Have a good holiday weekend.
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
    Jean Case is now chairman of the National Geographic Society's board of trustees. She is CEO of The Case Foundation. (Fishbowl DC) | Job of the day: The Los Angeles News Group is looking for night sports editor and designer. Get your resumes in! (Journalism Jobs)

    Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org.

Corrections? Tips? Please email me: jwarren@poynter.org. Would you like to get this roundup emailed to you every morning? Sign up here.

NOTE: The opening item now includes a subsequent comment made Friday by Jake Tapper of CNN.

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    James Warren

    New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S. News & World Report. Former managing editor and Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Tribune.


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