Mary Tyler Moore (1936-2017)
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Lawyer and liberal pundit Sally Kohn, who bills herself as "America's second-favorite cable news lesbian," on Wednesday tweeted her admiration for Mary Tyler Moore:
"Thank you Mary Tyler Moore for everything you did to inspire women journalists and generations of feminists! Your legacy surrounds us."
It was notable how many media folks — regardless of generation — felt likewise. And it wasn't just geezers from the pre-internet cable world that birthed Moore. It was the likes of Kohn, 39, and NBC's Katy Tur, 33, who joined in the homages to Moore, having caught up with the show in its unending cable and online life.
Detroit-based journalist Anna Clark, who's on a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan, tweeted out the great first episode of the fifth season, when Mary goes to jail for refusing to reveal a source. (@annaleighclark) "Let's all watch the Mary Tyler Moore Show."
She later told me, "I can't speak to how the character of Mary Richards resonated in the 1970s, but to me — born three years after the show went off the air — Mary was one of my earliest heroes."
"There's not a shred of pretense in Mary, but no false modesty either: She knows what she's capable of, and she goes out and does it. Personally, Mary embodied so much of the kind of journalist I wanted to be. I know I'm not alone. For more than 40 years, Mary has been expanding our sense of what's possible, both in and out of the newsroom."
Remember: The show ran on CBS from 1970 to 1977. Like Clark, many of those who memorialized their admiration weren't even born yet. And yet the show has endured for them, as impactful as for those who saw it originally.
Wendy Rieger, an anchor at WRC-TV in Washington, saluted Moore "Because #MaryTylerMoore was and always will be our leading lady."
"I wanted to be her, wanted to move to Minneapolis, wanted to throw my hat in the air, and definitely wanted to be a newspaper soul. "But I guess I stopped first at Children’s Hospital," said Barbara Mahany, a freelance writer and former Chicago Tribune mainstay.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Maria Henson, who now works at Wake Forest University, told me the influence for her was "in the way she lived her life as a single career woman, bravely and in the big city." There was a similar view put forth by The Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan. (The Washington Post)
"Turning the world on with a smile was a cover. Mary Tyler Moore was the bravest and smartest one in the newsroom, and that's why I loved her," tweeted Ann Marie Lipinski, who heads the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and was first (and so far only) female editor in chief of The Chicago Tribune (her pop cultural bona fides are indisputable since she's always shared my obsession with "The Gilmore Girls"). (@AMLwhere)
When I asked her to expand, she conceded how "a young woman watching that show now might wonder why it was a feminist breakout. There is a stubborn obsession with her niceness and wardrobe and that signature soprano pout, but I think we always understood what the character did: that one was a fool to underestimate her."
"It is impossible to imagine the public accepting a female character then (and probably now) with the shabby, rough edges of Lou Grant. But (Mary Tyler Moore) proves herself his intellectual equal, and much more. She is courageous, principled, and really brave in confronting both the eternal challenges of journalism and those of being a woman in the business."
She cited that great episode about going to jail to protect a source. And her confronting pay inequity. And reporting out fully an investigative piece that risked incriminating a friend.
"In her character I think young girls found a model for integrity. The start to that theme song — "who can turn the world on with a smile?" — was kind of horrible as the opening riff for a show about a successful professional woman. But thinking about it now, it reads a bit subversive."
That's because "women have always had to play by different standards, and there's a reason the sweet, sunshine-y female colleague is a celebrated trope. But (Mary Tyler Moore) is so much more than that, and her goodness does in fact make her wiser and stronger. That ear worm theme song ends 'you're gonna make it after all, and the 'after all' part, for me, is squarely pointed at anyone who didn't understand that for so many of us, Mary was what journalism looked like."
Facebook's modest crisis of conscience (Cont.)
"Facebook Inc. is overhauling its trending topics' box, part of its effort to curb fake news and expose users to a broader range of information." (The Wall Street Journal)
"Starting Wednesday, Facebook’s software will surface only topics that have been covered by a significant number of credible publishers, a move designed to cut back on hoaxes by giving more weight to information sources that have been around longer."
Covering Betsy DeVos
Where does one possibly start in covering the coverage of Donald Trump so far? Measuring assessments may be impossible given the rapidity of news and microscopic attentions spans.
Take Betsy DeVos. Please. There was intense but fleeting interest in her confirmation hearing to be Secretary of Education. Now, education writer Alexander Russo argues, "Instead of giving readers a full, helpful understanding of the nominee and her background, national outlets including Politico, Slate, the Wall Street Journal and (especially) The New York Times have cherry-picked storylines that put DeVos in a negative light and written about DeVos’s ideas and efforts using fraught, charged language." (Russo)
"Most of all, the coverage so far has largely missed the chance to help readers understand people and ideas from parts of America that aren’t dominated by the white, college-educated, liberal elite 'bubble' that is so familiar to most education reporters."
Trump's voter fraud inquiry
Headlines of The Wall Street Journal ("Sticking to Unsubstantiated Claim, Donald Trump Seeks Voter-Fraud Inquiry") and Los Angeles Times ("Trump now wants an investigation into unproven claims of voter fraud") were par for the course.
Then there was The Weekly Standard: "Trump's insane gambit on illegal voters might just prove effective." Mark Hemingway argues, "In order for Trump to win the broader debate here, all he has to do is prove voter fraud is consequential. And by angrily and, yes, correctly, refuting Trump's claims about illegal voters, the media may have fallen into a trap."
At minimum, The New York Times' Dan Barry is on the mark underscoring how the media is challenged to find the right words to describe baseless Trump claims. "This will be a recurring challenge, given President Trump’s habit of speaking in sales-pitch hyperbole and his tendency to deride any less-than-flattering report as 'fake news.'" (The New York Times)
Looking for work?
Bloomberg's Megan Hess reports, "The coders who program Siri and other virtual assistants are in the highest demand in the online job market. (Freelancers who know natural language processing earned an average of $123 per hour, according to data from last quarter.)"
Another Microsoft win
The Obama Justice Department sought to persuade Microsoft to fork over data held in Ireland, contending it had a legal right to procure communications held in overseas servers. It's now been spurned in a rehearing of an appeals court decision in favor of the company. (TechDirt)
After being handed a loss in its judicial quest to force Microsoft to hand over data held in Ireland, the DOJ asked the Second Circuit for a rehearing of its July decision. At the center of the case is the DOJ's belief that it should be able to force U.S. companies to turn over data and communications in overseas servers.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press on Monday is seeking to unseal "search warrant and electronic surveillance records related to the closed criminal investigations of three former government employees, all of whom pled guilty to charges arising out of allegations that they had provided classified information to journalists." (RCFP)
One case involves a former National Security Agency employee who pled guilty to a single charge involving alleged communications with a Baltimore Sun reporter. Katie Townsend, the group's litigation director, explains further:
"I don't think there's any indication that sealing practices were different for these types of materials under the Obama Administration than they were under past administrations. The reality is that these kinds of materials are just routinely filed and kept under seal unless and until someone asks for them to be unsealed, which is pretty infrequent (or the government has some reason of its own to ask for the material to be unsealed)."
There have been exceptions, which include federal judge Royce Lamberth (a good and opinionated fellow) unsealing the search warrant and supporting affidavit in the James Risen case.
Here's one not known to a general audience: "President Donald Trump has been known by the American public for decades. First as an outspoken New York real estate tycoon, later as a reality TV star, and now as commander in chief. But despite his occasional disdain for the legal system, his sister Maryanne Trump Barry is actually a prestigious federal judge with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals." (Law Newz)
But she does appear to similarly disdain the politically correct. "I stand second to none in condemning sexual harassment of women,” she's said “But what is happening is that every sexy joke of long ago, every flirtation, is being recalled by some women and revised and re-evaluated as sexual harassment. Many of these accusations are, in anybody’s book, frivolous.”
The morning babble
As the thrilling Roger Federer-Stan Wawrinka Australian Open semifinal rolled into a fifth set on ESPN, "Fox & Friends" and MSNBC's "Morning Joe" mused on Moore's passing, CNN's "New Day" was Trump heavy, including reports some top aides and family members were registered to vote in two states (one disclosure, on aide Steve Bannon, came from the Sarasota, Florida, Herald-Tribune's Chris Anderson).
Fox continued to go heavy with "Carnage in Chicago" and, like all the public discussion, didn't get close to any thoughtful consideration of the complicated roots of the awful uptick. The topic's been given to facile analyses by much of the media (too many guns, gang wars, etc.), as underscored in a new report by real experts, who themselves are not totally sure of the real catalysts. (University of Chicago Crime Lab) Somewhere in the mix, though, is more passive policing, for several reasons.
Spoiler alert: Federer, who'd taken six months off from competitive tennis after an injury, won at 6:41 a.m. That will gives us Venus, 36, Serena, 34, and Federer, 35 in their respective championship matches. And, come to think of it, Tom Brady, 39, in the Super Bowl.
In sports these days, if not in much media hiring, experience reigns.
A CNN alumna's rebuke
Former CNN chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellen argues, "In the past 20 months CNN’s management has let down its viewers and its journalists by sidelining the issues and real reporting in favor of pundits, prognostication and substance-free but entertaining TV 'moments.'"
She contends it can "again play an essential role" and makes the case (surely pie in the sky) that "as a condition of Time Warner’s bid to merge with AT&T, CNN should be sold to a new independent entity. This sale would also include CNN international, Headline News and its digital and related properties." (The New York Times)
Class, repeat after me...
The Trump claims on election fraud are bogus, no matter how many new permutations Press Secretary Sean Spicer can formulate. So if one can reiterate a falsehood, you can reiterate analyses you've previously published, a la The Washington Post with an October effort by the trio of Harvard's Stephen Ansolabehere, YouGov's Samantha Luks and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst's Brian Schaffner.
"Trump wants to investigate purported mass voter fraud. We pre-debunked his evidence" is the slightly-revised opus whose essence is reprised on the terrific Monkey Cage political science blog. (The Washington Post)
Don't forget Brenda Starr
Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich says that she was less consciously influenced by Mary Tyler Moore than by Marlo Thomas' "That Girl," the tale of an aspiring actress forced to take on odd jobs in the Big City.
But, no surprise, Brenda Starr "marked me more than any televised image." No surprise, at all. Schmich did double duty, taking over writing the script, which was born in 1940, in 1985 until its passing in 2011.
Trump's TV obsession is an early godsend for some in the press. ABC's David Muir got his interview yesterday, today it's unabashed Trump acolyte Sean Hannity of Fox News. He'll presumably be channeling Sean Spicer. Or, wait, maybe Spicer is already channeling Hannity! Whatever.
The amazing Williams sisters
As Federer and Wawrinka battled into a third hour in Australia this morning, the news of the day, or Australian night, was already in:
"The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, once owned tennis as if it were a private business. On Saturday they will resume the partnership in the final of the 2017 Australian Open after victories on Thursday that were oceans apart in style and content, but which began in the same boat more than three decades ago." (The Guardian)
Trump witch hunt in Carolina
"After 36 hours on the run through the woodlands of South Carolina, a bloodied and exhausted Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reportedly cowered behind the trunk of a willow tree Wednesday as President Donald Trump’s vicious hunting dogs closed in on him."
So much for Republican cooperation.
"According to sources, Graham has spent the past day and night wading across frigid creeks, slogging into fetid swampland, and crashing through thickets of thorny brambles in an effort to evade Trump’s pack of hounds, but he has not been able to shake the president’s determined hunting party."
Beyond the pale. And in The Onion.