Media awakes on 'Super Tuesday' to wonder how Trump gets stopped
- A "make or break" Ides of March
Are you ready for our third — or is it the second, fourth or eighth? — "Super Tuesday" on the day Julius Caesar was done in? Who's counting? Certainly not cable news networks making a bundle off the campaign (the volume of ads is staggering, even numbing). In sum, "By Tuesday night, Donald Trump could be well on his way to wrapping up the Republican nomination, or he could be facing the prospect of a fight all the way to the Convention. On the Democratic side, we will find out whether Bernie Sanders can build on his surprise victory in Michigan last week and deliver another blow to Hillary Clinton." (The New Yorker)
This could also mean we're in for 24 more town halls and 17 debates, not to mention the "exclusive" interviews Trump has parceled out to seemingly every media outlet. Beside the references to the Ides of March, there was "SUPER TUESDAY" emblazoned across the news channels this morning and various countdown clocks taking us to whenever formal coverage begins tonight or first polls close. "Well, tomorrow is today," said Fox & Friends' Steve Doocy, in case you were confused. "Hillary Clinton is in the fight of her life," he said, unsparingly focusing on the Democrats Fox prefers to poke. But it segued to the topic du jour, namely how to stop Trump, who's polling in the 40s in all of Tuesday's primary states, well above the "ceiling" the media has long claimed he hit. Well, at least for a bit. It then found some Democrats who love Trump and used them to bash the Democrats as weak-kneed enablers.
Joe Scarborough of MSNBC said flatly it's all about Ohio tonight, despite his network leaving us junkies at sea without any countdown clock! We might have to use our wristwatches, darn. "If they don't stop Trump in Ohio, the race is over" said Bloomberg's Mark Halperin on "Morning Joe," holding that whatever happens tonight, Trump and Clinton are in their respective driver's seats. "The stop Trump movement is still ineffective, it is discordant, it's not as organized as it could be," he said "But if he wins tonight everyone will try to figure out a way to keep him from a majority." Seeking a dark lining in a silver cloud, amiable veteran Al Hunt of Bloomberg noted how Trump's unfavorable ratings are still hovering around 64 percent. "That is territory that almost no modern politician has been in once one gets beyond that committed base." Yes but the whole race is one in which no modern presidential aspirant has really been.
- Cokie Watch: Roberts bashed for bashing Trump
It may say something about the potency of the syndicated column Cokie Roberts does with her husband, Steve, that it took about two weeks for her own employer to realize that she'd bashed Trump in one. That's against NPR rules as far as what its folks can declare publicly (as if there are secret cadres of Ted Cruz voters there). Management's apparent realization on March 9 about her Feb. 26 column has prompted an internal kerfuffle and formal admonishment, as underscored by NPR's own David Folkenflik. (NPR) It even came up on "Morning Edition" on Monday when she was questioned by David Greene, who said, “Objectivity is so fundamental to what we do. Can you blame people like me for being a little disappointed — I mean, to hear you sort of come out and take a personal position on something like this in a campaign?” She responded, "Yes." (The Washington Post) Well, maybe this will at least result in somebody reading the husband-wife column every once in a while.
- Rupert's nuptials
"My Beautiful Family" was the tweet from Jerry Hall as she gave us the family photo from her wedding to media mogul Rupert Murdoch. (@JerryHall) This apparently romantic bliss has inspired Twitter silence from Murdoch, a serial social media practitioner. (@rupertmurdoch)
- Jason Rezaian meets with Obama
The Washington Post correspondent, who was freed after spending 18 months in a Tehran prison, met with the president at the State Department. The reporter called it "a friendly, informal" encounter. National security adviser Susan Rice and Brett McGurk, the State official who was a key negotiator in gaining the release of Rezaian and four other imprisoned Americans, also were there. (The Washington Post)
- Gawker on Breitbart
You had to figure that left-leaning Gawker would weigh in with an indecorous take on problems at right-wing Breitbart News. You might recall how a Breitbart reporter, Michelle Fields, was manhandled at a Trump rally, prompting a limp tweet from a Breitbart colleague who seemed to doubt her account. Fields has since quit, along with several others. Gawker is especially focused on reporter Ben Shapiro, a Harvard-educated lawyer who's been a rather provocative sort himself and chided by Breitbart News itself as a snake after he quit. (The New York Times) Gawker's headline: "Breitbart.com Bids Farewell to Departing Turd With Pseudonymous Hate Post." Now if that was too coy or esoteric, there's this explanation in the lede: "As the editorial toilet bowl at Breitbart.com continues to spin, it’s becoming clear that the shameless right-wing site hates itself about as much as everyone hates it. After editor and racist pissbaby-at-large Ben Shapiro resigned, his former website wasted no time in ridiculing him." OK, got it. (Gawker)
- The Kathleen Matthews campaign (cont.)
The Marriott executive and spouse of Chris Matthews is running in a Maryland Democratic primary for Congress. The Intercept "has identified 48 frequent guests of Matthews’s program who have made donations to the Kathleen Matthews for Congress campaign. These individuals, their spouses, or their political action committees donated $79,050 as of December 31, 2015 — about 5 percent of the $1.5 million Matthews had raised as of that time." There's nothing illegal here but, as with much in Washington, the most unseemly stuff is perfectly legal. Kathleen Matthews is akin to an establishment Hillary Clinton-like figure in the race and is surely hoping against a big pro-Bernie Sanders turnout in the district that day. If so, she probably loses. (The Intercept)
- Journalists, you ain't alone
There should be lots of guilt inspired by the media's pretty awful track record with diversity. It's not alone. Take advertising, please. "A series of recent incidents and allegations paints an unflattering portrait of the industry, highlighting the lack of gender and racial diversity that still exists in the advertising and marketing business." (The Wall Street Journal) Last week, "the male chief executive of ad agency J. Walter Thompson, whose clients include Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Macy’s Inc., was sued for alleged discrimination by a female subordinate who accused him of an 'unending stream of racist and sexist comments, as well as unwanted touching.'" They denied the allegations, but there are a lot more fresh examples of the basic problem.
- What Putin's Syria move means
The move "was clearly designed to coincide with the start of Syrian peace talks in Geneva" (The Guardian), may signal "that it may be open to a Syrian government led by someone other than Assad" (Foreign Policy), "may intensify pressure on the Syrian government to strike a deal with rebel groups in Geneva" (The Washington Post), and set off "fevered speculation about Russia’s intentions." (The New York Times) Or had it "revived concerns that the Russian leader is outmaneuvering Barack Obama"? (POLITICO) And then there was RT.com, the Russian-subsidized news operation in the U.S., which improbably relied on a former American ambassador to Morocco who believes that Washington "should welcome Mr. Putin’s decision to reduce the number of Russian troops inside Syria.” (RT)
- New boss already 'killing Chicago journalism?'
For sure, tech mogul Michael Ferro has made some swift moves as new primary shareholder and chairman of Tribune Publishing, whose biggest assets are the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. But in naming a new, very celebrity-oriented editor for Chicago Magazine, he's irked at least one local media observer who feels it's part and parcel of a Grim Reaper at play. He's "killing Chicago journalism." What's more, "major independent media is not only dead but being buried." (Crain's Chicago Business) OK, guys, let's count to 10, or more, take another deep breath and let this all play out a bit longer. But, at minimum, it speaks to the greater scrutiny, fair or not, likely to come Ferro's way as he steps into a much bigger spotlight than he's experienced as boss at The Chicago Sun-Times.
- Obama meets with Alexander Hamilton
If you're president, you need not shlep to New York to see a show. Merely have it performed at your place! So the president and about 100 chums and aides got to see parts of "Hamilton" performed in the East Room. Katie Leslie, a reporter for The Dallas Morning News, had pool duty yesterday and could thus inform of the president's remarks and the start of the action or, in the case of one audience member, inaction. "Following his remarks, the cast performed 'Alexander Hamilton.' The president bobbed his head along with the musical, as did the First Lady and many members of the audience. The Vice President watched intently, but with little head movement. Press was escorted out immediately following the first number." And thanks to Bloomberg News for a financial angle on this, namely that tickets for the play on StubHub are running at about $1,200 apiece. (Bloomberg)
- A very nervy expedition
Wolf Blitzer beckoned colleague Clarissa Ward to instantly opine on Putin's announcement about exiting Syria. No surprise, she couldn't be too definitive. But she can be confident in discussing the confusions and horror playing out in Syria, having just cranked out compelling undercover reports in rebel-held parts of the country with producer Salma Abdelaziz. It's great work and includes a somber mini-profile of a surgeon in the only hospital left in one town. The guy sees about 100 people a day and "his face is gray and dark circles line his eyes. It's the face of someone who doesn't know what to think or feel anymore, of someone who is just going through the motions. When he talks, he presses his hands down on the desk, as if it is somehow the only thing holding him up." He doesn't have enough medicine and the water is too dirty to use for surgeries. Despite their denials, he says, Assad and Russia targeted hospitals deliberately. (CNN)
- Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
Amy Pyle is now editor in chief at the Center for Investigative Reporting. Previously, she was managing editor there. (Reveal) | Allison Davis is now cultural critic and feature writer at The Ringer. Previously, she worked at New York magazine's The Cut. (Fishbowl NY) | James Bennet will be editorial page editor at The New York Times. Previously, he was the editor in chief of The Atlantic. Andrew Rosenthal will be an online columnist for The New York Times. Previously, he was editorial page editor there. (Poynter) | Job of the day: The Ottawa Herald is looking for a managing editor. Get your resumes in! (Poynter Media Jobs Connection) | Send Ben your job moves: email@example.com.