The media's fatal flaw? It's elitism, argues a conservative professor

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"Many people have expressed surprise that The Times would publish my piece at all, so you take what you can get. "

Frederick Lynch, a government professor of conservative bent at Claremont McKenna College, was speaking Sunday about his weekend New York Times op-ed that took aim at criticism of President Trump's policies on immigration and diversity. "Why Trump Supporters Distrust Immigration and Diversity" was distinctly contrarian to many elite media rebukes of Trump on the same topic.

It was very much in sync with long-standing Lynch views, best on display in his 1996 book “The Diversity Machine: The Drive to Change the ‘White Male Workplace.’" In particular, his op-ed asked rhetorically whether Trump is pandering to racial fears — the clear consensus among media — or "addressing legitimate interest-group concerns."

He finds much of the press captive of a one-sided debate over what motivates Mr. Trump and his supporters. There's the stereotype of angry White voters driven by racism, resentment, declining economic or social status, irrational fears of economic or demographic change or all of the above, he put it to me.

"I think much of the press has been very (politically correct) on affirmative action/diversity, immigration and the White middle and working-class. They think there are no downsides to these policies. There's an elite, class bias."

The shock on many cable news hosts' and pundits' faces on Election Day — not to mention elite newspapers, at least one of which hadn't thought to have a "How Trump Won" piece in the can just in case Trump did win — was obvious. It was proof of being way out of touch. "

It was mildly ironic that Lynch's piece was soon supplanted, as far as online play, by an Emory University African-Studies professor's piece on "The Policies of White Resentment." It took exactly the tack that he finds wayward, namely finding "White resentment and White nationalism" as a central explanation of our current politics.

He thinks that view off-base, even if he's not big fan of Trump. Ultimately, he said, "What we've got here is class bias: Harvard grads v. high school grads." He cites some older studies that showed that many reporters at the top-tier papers and networks had pretty homogeneous backgrounds and views: Ivy League or state flagship school credentials, political party preferences, and the same on a variety of items on a political attitude survey."

He asked if I thought that was still true; I think it generally holds up.

It's a point he made in his last book and will emphasize to a greater extent in another book in-progress. The theme there will be that the "big divide in U.S. is not left-right, but elites v. masses."

Some thoughts had to drop from his weekend op-ed as a result of space limitations, he said. One involved his view that the "contempt for Trump-oriented middle- and working-class Whites remains strong." He cites a Frank Rich New York piece, "No Sympathy for the Hillbilly," and an Emily Nussbaum New Yorker retrospective of "The Apprentice" as examples (she referred to Trump's election victory as a product of "class rage and racial fury"). He chides some on the right, too, including William Kristol and columnist Bret Stephens.

But, again, Lynch was pretty content that the most elite of media had given him the distinct time of day for his contrarian take.

Kelly, Trump and the new restraint

Bloomberg reports this about new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, "Perhaps even more important, Kelly is testing his authority to tame Trump’s sometimes reckless tweeting habits. While Kelly isn’t vetting every presidential tweet, Trump has shown a willingness to consult with his chief of staff before hitting 'send' on certain missives that might cause an international uproar or lead to unwelcome distractions, according to three people familiar with the interactions."

What's the Vegas over-under on a new self-restraint? One week? Two weeks?

Let's see, last night Trump tweeted from New Jersey that "The fake news refuses to report the success of the first six months: S.C., surging economy & jobs, border & military security, ISIS & MS-13 etc." Maybe somebody can ask Kelly, if he was editor, what "military security" and "S.C." refer to.

"The hell it isn't"

Superstar quarterback Tom Brady's wife says he had a concussion last year. If true, it would be yet another New England Patriots deception, since you're supposed to formally report that stuff to the NFL.

Brady told reporters Friday it was none of their business. "The hell is isn't," said ESPN reporter-host Bob Ley in a subsequent commentary. He's done lots of good reporting on football concussions and how the NFL tap dances around the issue.

Quiet day in Bedminster, New Jersey

As is the case in "covering" a presidential vacation, you generally don't suffer from work-related exhaustion. Alexander Kaufman of HuffPost had print pool duty Sunday and reported:

"A brief tidbit came in as the pool sat quietly watching CNN's 'Reliable Sources.' The president's Chief of Staff, John Kelly, is providing updates to POTUS on the crash of a U.S. military Osprey off the coast of Australia, a White House official said."

"In two emails sent roughly an hour after meeting with the pool at the Bridgewater Marriott to call a lunch lid, the official said the chief of staff was 'keeping the President apprised' of 'an outstanding question on the V22 from this morning's gathering.'

"The second email, sent 18 minutes after the initial update, corrected a typo."

Taking the reins at White House Correspondents’ Association

Margaret Talev, Bloomberg's senior White House correspondent, will now multitask as head of the White House Correspondents' Association for the next year. We chatted about a range of matters, including comparing the short-of-scintillating Obama record on transparency with that of Trump. And on these post-Scaramucci early days, she says:

"Even as tensions have flared publicly, the lines of communication are open and the relationship has been evolving. You may have read about Anthony Scaramucci's view of an upside to improving and reshaping press relations, and to differentiating between how the president and his team engage the press. Starting under Sean's tenure, the White House increasingly has brought cabinet officials to take questions about policy."

"That's a positive step. Other positive signs are continuing after Anthony's tenure."

Cops and deadly force

"Police and Deadly Force: Finding Stories in the Data" is a Sept. 5 to 7 training session in Chicago run by Poynter and funded by the McCormick Foundation. There will be journalists, law enforcement specialists and academics from around the land.

It's about covering police shootings and deadly force and will include analysis of Stanford University's examination of 100 million traffic stops. Aug. 11 is the application deadline for journalists who want to get better on these and related topics.

Fired, rehired

The Washington Post did a terrific job in chronicling how cops can get fired for misconduct then rehired, in part due to union contracts. There was nice design work and a Twitter thread on how staffers Kimbriell Kelly, Wesley Lowery and Steven Rich put it all together.

By coincidence, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the last Chicago police officer facing disciplinary action in a high-profile and notorious case "has been paid more than $37,000 for overtime while assigned to desk duty as he fights City Hall’s efforts to suspend him for a year."

Taken together, the cop "has been paid more than $225,000 in wages, overtime pay and other compensation since being put on administrative duty in February 2016 pending disciplinary action, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show."

The U.S. press is not alone

From Sunday's Guardian:

"After the bitter referendums over Scottish independence and Britain’s EU membership, after newspapers and TV failed to predict the successes of Donald Trump, Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn, and finally with the nightmarish failure of policy and oversight that led to Grenfell, confidence in the media has taken a battering."

And, "It is not just the politically motivated who hold these beliefs. Judged on hard metrics, confidence in UK media has fallen noticeably in recent years."

Small smarts find a home on Twitter

"When ESPN streamed the professional indoor lacrosse playoffs for pay-TV subscribers last year, about 4,000 people tuned in on average. This year, the National Lacrosse League averaged almost 344,000 viewers for each "Game of the Week" streamed on Twitter." (Ad Age)

"For football and baseball, which have billion-dollar national TV contracts, an online or over-the-top viewing option is a smart bet on the future and a way to please the most loyal fans. For professional lacrosse and other small sports, it's a must, even when the teams are owned by billionaires like the Buffalo Bandits' Terry Pegula or the Colorado Mammoths' Stan Kroenke."

The morning babble

"Trump & Friends" rehashed Friday's news about Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement about leak investigations. No surprise. CNN's "New Day" rehashed the disputed New York Times disclosure of Mike Pence quietly positioning himself for a possible 2020 run if Trump doesn't try again (no apparent mention of a Times piece on co-host Chris Cuomo's brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, plotting, too, on the Democratic side).

MSNBC's "Morning Joe" looked at Trump seeking to circumvent the press, former Democratic Party boss Howard Dean calling some Democrats "whiny" (Fox loved that, too) and the ongoing mess with North Korea (as did Fox and CNN, with the latter doing actual reporting from Manila at a big international meeting on the subject).

Silicon Valley gender sensitivity

"At least eight Google employees tweeted Friday about a document that was circulated within the company calling for replacing Google's diversity initiatives with policies that encourage "ideological diversity" instead. The document, which is the personal opinion of one senior software engineer, was shared on a company mailing list but has since gone 'internally viral,' according to a Google employee who spoke with Motherboard."

Late Sunday, as Bloomberg reports, "Illustrating how Silicon Valley is grappling with the role of women in technology, Google’s new diversity chief forcefully pushed back against a male worker’s argument that the company has a “politically correct monoculture” that ignores differences between the sexes."

Kelly gets tough

While some media were taken by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly restraining President Trump's tweeting, less attention was given how "John Kelly roots out remaining Priebus sympathizers hiding in tunnels throughout White House."

Yes, “'I’ve gotta stamp them all out, every last one,' said Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, dropping a grenade down a shaft in which he’d heard rustling from several White House aides loyal to his predecessor."

Thanks, The Onion.

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

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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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