The man behind John McCain's speech slamming bombastic media loudmouths

Good morning. Here's our morning roundup of all the media news you need to know. Want to get this briefing in your inbox every morning? Subscribe here.

It was pure John McCain. Which meant it was pure Mark Salter.

You know Sen. McCain but perhaps not Salter. But it's no surprise that a longtime alter ego and close friend of the senator was the primary author of McCain's dramatic Senate floor speech that pilloried the media Tuesday as McCain returned from his tough medical diagnosis and spoke cogently about the need for compromise on a healthcare bill.

"Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the internet. To hell with them," McCain said to uncharacteristic applause in the chamber.

"They don't want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood."

Watching on TV, I emailed Salter during the speech. The former longtime McCain aide, who authored a terrific book on McCain and served as his chief of staff, said that, yes, McCain had asked his help.

"He told me what he wanted to say, and I worked on finding a way to say it. Went over it with him in the plane. Made revisions, and he did a sensational job with the delivery."

It doesn't get any more dramatic than a man, diagnosed with brain cancer, returning to help push a vote through and eviscerate the ideologically driven process he's a part of (including accepting blame himself for his craving to always win).

Looking at the awful scar above his left eye, realizing he surely knows the odds are stacked against him, you're reminded why he's such a unique character in a club often driven by caution and spinelessness. It's why McCain is so liked by the press, even stipulating to his often mercurial ways that make him more respected than beloved by many colleagues.

As for the remarks on the press, one needed only to turn on cable news last night. To take one example, there was Sean Hannity, who's rich in no small measure because he's a loudmouth in a society that prizes being provocative over being right.

There he was, coming to us "from the sewer and the swamp that is Washington, D.C." hailing Trump's earlier speech in Ohio, and his bashing of the press, along with calling for investigation of various alleged Democratic "scandals" and extolling Trump's achievements. So much for McCain's (correct) assertion that the Senate has done zilch beyond confirming Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.

While in Washington, Hannity should check in with loyal Republican Salter, who's been rolling his eyes over Trump since the campaign. As he wrote right before the party's convention, "the GOP is going to nominate for president a guy who reads the National Enquirer and thinks it's on the level."

Yeah, Hannity should talk to the son of a Korean War hero and the rebellious product of Catholic schools in Iowa who opted for rock bands and working on railroads rather than college. Here's a good 2008 profile in Newsweek by Howard Fineman who captured the essence of a guy who was the hidden hand yesterday behind a captivating moment in the U.S Senate.

The morning babble

"Trump & Friends" was taking its own victory lap this morning, heralding Trump's Youngstown, Ohio appearance. It self-importantly noted how a working-class guest it had on Tuesday was obviously seen by the White House and given a speaking role in Youngstown.

CNN's "New Day" repeated the legislative realities in the Senate, the seeming passivity of Trump himself when it comes to direction and all the competing proposals as the body enters a period of confusion. Co-host Chris Cuomo said "John McCain's wish will fall on deaf ears," when it comes to any real Democratic input.

Remember Jeff Sessions? MSNBC's Joe Scarborough noted senators' defense of him, and reporter Kasie Hunt raised the possibility that GOP members wouldn't confirm a replacement as attorney general if Trump fired him. Jeremy Peters of The New York Times said Trump is "cyber-bullying" Sessions and noted how right-leaning media have qualms about Trump's vitriol.

Teaching CRAAP in Vermont

The Burlington, Vermont Free Press asks, "Read any fake news lately? School librarians have. And now they are teaching students CRAAP to help them evaluate and verify news content to ferret out the false from the real."

"CRAAP, an acronym that stands for Currency (timeliness), Relevance (importance), Authority (source), Accuracy (reliability) and Purpose (reason) helps students sort through the overwhelming flood of digital information."

"'These are the questions we have to introduce these ideas to kids before they think they know everything,' incoming Burlington High School librarian Shannon Walters said recently."

John Stossel on saving rhinos

John Stossel, one of the best-known libertarian journalists, is partnering with Reason for a video series, "Stossel on Reason," and the first involves a free market strategy for saving the rhinoceros from poachers.

The notion rattles environmentalists but it's essentially to flood the market with fake, or artificial, rhino horn and bring down prices and limit incentives for poaching. This is pretty short and to the point, so have a look. He'll be posting on Facebook, Twitter and Reason TV.

Early obit for Flash

"Adobe today announced that Flash, the once-ubiquitous plugin that allowed you to play your first Justin Bieber video on YouTube and Dolphin Olympics 2 on Kongregate, will be phased out by the end of 2020. At that point, Adobe will stop updating and distributing Flash." (TechCrunch)

Headline of the day

"A ‘Gay Jewish Kangaroo’ Takes on Wagner at Bayreuth"

This is a New York Times opera story, folks.

Decision on a United Airlines parody site

United went to court in Canada after Untied.com, which thrives on customer complaints about the airline, redesigned itself to look more like United.com. It alleged trademark and copyright infringement.

"Well, the court has ruled on the injunction. The good news is that the court declined to hand over the Untied.com domain to the airline. The bad news is that court does rule that the site is infringing both United's copyright and trademark rights and instead said Untied can only keep its name if it ceases to be Untied at all." (Techdirt)

A good day for debunking site

"In one day, Snopes received more than $500,000 worth of donations from nearly 20,000 people on GoFundMe in order to keep its doors open." (Poynter)

"'Stunned and humbled by this. The money is incredibly helpful. The support is priceless,' Managing Editor Brooke Binkowski wrote in a tweet Tuesday. 'We won't forget. Thank you.'"

It's been in financial need due to a legal dispute. The money basically covers operating expenses for a relatively brief period.

Seeking superstars

STAT is looking for "the next generation of superstars" in the health sciences, meaning "the postdocs, residents, and other young scientists who are already doing groundbreaking work — and who will be well worth watching in the years to come."

Here's where you can nominate folks.

Right Richter

Will Sommer, an editor at The Hill, has more than 5,000 subscribers to a newsletter about conservative news. So he's an expert on the right, though he's not made money off it yet (and his girlfriend copyedits). What does he find compelling in that world world?

"I'm very used to the tropes. In the case of somebody like Rush Limbaugh — he's a good broadcaster. He's entertaining. He's a good time. I have some very personal opinions about individual people. I think Sean Hannity is a total snooze to listen to. People like Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager — they're just death to me. But Rush Limbaugh, if I'm on a road trip, I'll do a little." (Poynter)

Trump, JFK and transparency

The last government records on the John F. Kennedy assassinations remain under seal until October. Only one person could halt the disclosure. Guess who? Writing in The Washington Post, the University of Virginia's Larry Sabato and Phil Shenon, a former New York Times reporter and author of a book on the assassination, say:

"We know we speak for an army of historians, political scientists, journalists and concerned citizens who have studied the JFK assassination when we say that it is time for the federal government to release everything in the custody of the archives. This is the moment for full transparency about a seminal event that cost many Americans’ trust in their government."

A fascinating Syria story

From Collum Lynch in Foreign Policy: "Russia has stepped up a campaign to get the United Nations to demine Syria’s majestic Roman ruins in Palmyra, but some Western diplomats fear the Kremlin is only seeking to get other countries to help it exploit the city’s rich natural resources."

The Russian government’s push to protect Syria’s ancient ruins, these diplomats note, coincides with reports of an effort by Russia to convince private security companies to secure territory around Palmyra from Islamic State militants in exchange for the rights to lucrative gas and mining rights."

A truly exclusive interview

"Energy Secretary Rick Perry in a wide-ranging phone call with Russian pranksters last week discussed international climate accords, cyberattacks and the United States' desire to export gas to Ukraine." (E&E News)

Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, who are described as the 'Jerky Boys of Russia,' have conducted similar prank calls with U.S. Senator John McCain and singer Elton John. They arranged the call with Perry last week, just a few weeks after he had met with Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, and his delegation." (Bloomberg)

Buying The Daily Racing Form

Bloomberg reports, "Z Capital Partners agreed to buy horse-racing media company Daily Racing Form in a bet on the future of online sports wagers." It's no small deal and might be in the area of $100 million.

"The private equity arm of Z Capital Group is acquiring the business from lenders after a restructuring process, according to Jim Zenni, the alternative-asset manager’s founder."

It does indeed come out every day and is a horse-racing industry fixture, now includes a big digital arm and a way to place online bets on races. It sells about 5 million copies of its publication annually and drew 72 million bets on its platform in 2016, up 15 percent from the year prior."

Not your typical ambush

"A Fox News host was ambushed while attending her pal’s campaign event in Brooklyn Monday night — doused head to toe with a bottle of water." (New York Post)

"The assault against Kat Timpf, a libertarian co-host on 'Fox News Specialists,' occurred at Union Pool in Williamsburg, where her friend and Brooklyn Borough president hopeful Ben Kissel was hosting the event, which coincided with his birthday."

The Post said she was "still shaken" when it tracked her down. But this does fall somewhat short of what journalists deal with in places like, say, Mosul.

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

  • Profile picture for user jwarren

    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.

Comments

Related News

Email IconGroup 3Facebook IconLinkedIn IconsearchGroupTwitter IconGroup 2YouTube Icon