Media taken aback as civility breaks out at GOP debate

Good morning.

  1. A tamer exchange
    The media consensus was quickly transparent last night as the presidential campaign's rhetorical marathon continued in Miami. In the latest Republican debate, the candidates "lowered the volume," (The New York Times) "set aside insults," (The Washington Post) "toned it down" (Los Angeles Times) and "pulled their punches." (POLITICO) "Some substance and no changes," said Bloomberg's Mark Halperin this morning on a Joe-less "Morning Joe," with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski off to the Nancy Reagan funeral.

    OK, OK, civil, we get it. But it did seem as if Donald Trump's rivals wimped out, as Megyn Kelly of Fox News suggested. Their tactics were obvious but "I don't know what their strategy is," Charles Krauthammer told her. A Fox News focus group led by Frank Luntz seemed to be in seventh heaven, using words such as "inspiring," "refreshing" and "powerful" to describe the evening. On "Morning Joe," Bloomberg's John Heilemann wondered if it was "the death with dignity debate" for Trump's imperiled rivals. Somebody else had best win in either Florida or Ohio on Tuesday or things may be close to over for the other candidates. It was why, as Atlantic Media's Ron Brownstein told CNN's "New Day" in the wee hours, Trump seemed more about reassurance than persuasion as he senses victory is at hand.

    CNN moderator Jake Tapper did a fine job, or as well as one can do with the well-rehearsed group. He got in a global warming question and one to Trump about the nasty tone he's set and seemingly even accentuated when it comes to protesters. And, again, CNN turned Chris Cuomo into a campaign version of a courteous NFL sideline reporter. As soon as it was over, he was on stage with, of course, The Donald. "A very elegant evening," Trump said. "How is your confidence level?" Cuomo asked. It was fine, the candidate replied, as if anyone really wonders if he suffers from much doubt.

  2. Surprise (not): Wage discrimination at Dow Jones
    The union that represents journalists at The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch and Barron’s (owned by Dow Jones) hasn't seen much progress over the years when it comes to wage disparities between men and women. Its latest study concludes that women working full-time get about 87 cents for every buck paid to male counterparts of similar tenure. The gulf widens when you factor in race, with Whites and Asians earning more than Blacks and Hispanics. (IAPA)
  3. Might as well get smarter if stuck on a bus or in a car
    So you want to immerse yourself in podcasts and get smarter? Here's Business Insider's list of 20 to check out. If you want to know more about politics, money, science, success, the cosmos, design or the "frontier of psychology," you name it, take a look. (Business Insider)
  4. "Indentured" college athletes
    Joe Nocera of The New York Times has exhibited great sophistication in using his past background as a business magazine reporter-editor in roles as a Times business, op-ed and sports columnist. He's been very critical of the NCAA and now joins with Ben Strauss, a contributing writer to the paper, on a book about the NCAA's failings and the impact of money on big-time college basketball and football programs. They discussed with me their take on sports journalism, which is getting better but has a long way to go. Greatest past failing? Nocera thinks it was reporters in the tank for the NCAA — thinking its officials were always the good guys and anybody they targeted were bad. (Poynter)
  5. Live from the state dinner
    Anita Kumar, a White House correspondent for McClatchy, was a pool reporter at the state dinner for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "Actors Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, wearing a stunning silver dress with a plunging neckline," she reported. "They declined to answer questions, saying they were just going to do photos tonight. Lively did tell us who she was wearing: Ralph & Russo and Lorraine Schwartz jewelry." OK, thanks. "Actor Michael J. Fox, accompanied by his wife, actress Tracy Pollan, who was wearing a long dark blue dress, said he went to a state dinner in 1985." Gotcha. And then a reminder of how the White House occasionally courts those who cover it. "Your pooler saw fellow White House correspondents Roberta Rampton of Reuters and Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post looking fabulous as they went inside the dinner." Darn. Where was Giuliana Rancic and the rest of E! network's "Fashion Police" when we needed them for a special "media goes to state dinner" episode?
  6. Obama on the media and voter rage
    It's not exactly a new analysis, but President Obama alluded to the GOP establishment and likes of Fox News and other right-leaning media as heightening the populist anger exploited by Trump. It came during a joint session with Trudeau: "Objectively," said Obama, "it's fair to say that the Republican political elites, and many of the information outlets, social media, news outlets and television stations have been feeding the Republican base for the last seven years."
  7. SPJ boss hits back at the Hulkster
    Part of Hulk Hogan's strategy in his $100 million privacy lawsuit against Gawker Media is to claim the company violated the Society of Professional Journalists ethics code in publishing an excerpt from Hogan's sex tape. It used a journalism professor to bolster its claim Wednesday. But wait. "In 2009, we added an explicit disclaimer saying that it was not legally enforceable," SPJ president Paul Fletcher told POLITICO. "It doesn’t establish a standard of care for journalists." Fletcher has a law degree and publishes a legal weekly. He underscored that the code constitutes a set of principles, not rules journalists have to heed. "The ethics code is not intended as a legal standard. It’s a set of best practices to guide journalists in making ethical decisions," he said. (POLITICO)
  8. Breitbart News suspends editor
    The right-leaning site suspended indefinitely a Washington editor who seemed to be less than a pillar of support for a colleague after she was allegedly manhandled at a Trump gathering by Trump's campaign manager. His comments were inappropriate, it says, and also asks the offending Trump aide to apologize. (The Washington Post) The Trump campaign denies the basic claim, which would appear in line with an aggressively dismissive attitude toward much of the media who follow the candidate. That includes segregating them into holding pens like cattle. CNN's Jake Tapper did not specifically broach the incident last night when more broadly interrogating Trump on unseemly incidents at events and Trump's related, seemingly inflammatory comments.
  9. If you've got an hour to read something...
    Last night's debate was again short on many foreign policy questions and observations beyond tough talk on terrorism. But if any future moderator is improbably interested in our place in the world, read Jeffrey Goldberg's 19,000-word Atlantic epic on Obama's foreign policy. He spent significant time with Obama (here and abroad) and captures the president's clearly debatable analyses, mostly on the Middle East. (The Atlantic) In particular, it's a fascinating immersion into Obama's mindset on Syria and what one can either view as the principled, well-considered distance he's kept from intervention or as perilous waffling and passivity. Goldberg ultimately views him as a gambler, not a bluffer. And while Goldberg sees George W. Bush as as himself a gambler likely to be recalled "harshly for the things he did in the Middle East," Obama "is gambling that he will be remembered for the things he didn't do." This really is a superb piece. Yes, it's 19,000 words. But, as a waggish friend put it yesterday, it reads (as I did) like 16,000. Have a good weekend.
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
    Steve Cannella is now executive editor at Sports Illustrated. Previously, he was assistant managing editor there. (Email) | Julia Beizer is now head of product at The Huffington Post. Previously, she was director of product for The Washington Post. (Email) | Brenda Rodriguez is now arts and entertainment editor at the Los Angeles Times. Previously, she was a deputy film editor at People. (Los Angeles Times) | Kelly Conniff is now director of features at TIME. Previously, she was social media editor there. (Fishbowl NY) | Job of the day: McClatchy is looking for a data editor. Get your resumes in! (Poynter Media Jobs Connection) | Send Ben your job moves:

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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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