Media's latest primary night: Big stakes, thick steaks and blown polls

Good morning.

  1. The Home Shopping Network should have been there
    The news channels' coverage of primaries, notably a squeaker of a Democratic race in Michigan, included airing a rambling, hour-long Donald Trump infomercial — replete with boosting his own steaks, wine and a magazine — posing as a press conference. (POLITICO) "I have never heard such streams of disconnected ideas since I quit psychiatry 30 years ago," said Charles Krauthammer on Fox News. "That was live television. That was reality television that nobody can do. And that has its appeal," he said with poker-faced disbelief.

    This morning CNN bannered "SANDERS STUNS CLINTON IN MICHIGAN," while "MICHIGAN MAYHEM" was the Fox preference. At MSNBC Joe Scarborough touted the performance of Ted Cruz and essentially interred fellow Floridian Marco Rubio. On the Republican side, he opined, "This is quickly turning into a two-man race." As for Trump, after enduring a week of attacks, he had a big night, as Mika Brzezinski underscored by reverently reading aloud a Scarborough piece for The Washington Post as he sat next to her. (The Washington Post) But are there enough white voters to elect Trump? The "Morning Joe" consensus is that there is not. We'll see. He clearly didn't buy that notion during his first morning interview, at 6:30 EST with CNN's Chris Cuomo, as he called in to ramble further (even mentioning the support of a former New York Yankees player, Paul O'Neill). "There's no enthusiasm for Hillary," he said dismissively of the person he figures is his ultimate competition. "The people don't want her." Oh, as far as his very late win in Hawaii? "I have a great hotel there."

    The Democrats? The perceived media wisdom this morning is that Bernie Sanders has delayed his demise, albeit surprisingly. "In the bigger picture, the basic battle lines of the Democratic race have barely moved in weeks." (The New York Times) But what about those Michigan polls parroted by the press that showed Clinton way, way ahead? For Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight, "Sanders’s win in Michigan was one of the greatest upsets in modern political history." (FiveThirtyEight)

  2. A big TV deal in the works?
    No, it's not Trump buying CNN and the Home Shopping Network and combining them. It's Tribune Media, a very big TV operation with 42 stations, exploring ways to improve shareholder value. In this case that's an apparent euphemism for waiting too long to deal with a declining share price. Meredith would apparently be interested in picking off some of its stations. Those stations, which are based in some the biggest markets, now exceed a Federal Communications rule about how much of the country's viewers you can reach (it got an exemption to exceed it in a prior deal). So Meredith might well like some, but far from all, those stations. (Bloomberg) Its other assets include WGN America, which can be seen in 80 million homes, and a stake in CareerBuilder said to be worth around $300 million. Oh, then there's the potentially alluring 31 percent stake in Food Network.
  3. Editor of flawed longform story says he was defamed
    Deadspin's Feb. 26 “How SB Nation Published Their Daniel Holtzclaw Story” detailed the disaster of SB Nation's “Who is Daniel Holtzclaw?” That was the egregiously puffy profile of the onetime Oklahoma City cop who was accused of sex crimes against 13 black women. Now a lawyer for the key editor of the originally awful piece is warning of a lawsuit for what it claims was Deadspin's "false and defamatory" depiction of his client. (The Washington Post)
  4. The real story of Guantanamo
    Belated kudos must go to New York Times reporters Charlie Savage and Scott Shane for a classically cold-blooded dissection of the unceasing political fight over the detainee camp at Guantanamo. "Even by the standards of an epically polarized Washington, the political talk about President Obama’s effort to close the Guantánamo Bay prison is starkly divorced from facts. On both sides of the debate, many claims collapse under scrutiny." That's correct. Their critique totally dismantles the claims of Obama critics. But it also puts holes in the views of Obama supporters who urge moving a bunch of folks to U.S. prisons. That could very well still keep people locked up without any charges against them. It's not staking out any higher moral ground. (The New York Times)
  5. Takes one to know one
    Runa Sandvik, a Norwegian who's a self-employed digital security consultant, announced she's joining The New York Times as Director of Information Security for the newsroom. (@runasand) It brought a quickly tweeted hurrah from Barton Gellman, the journalist who’s been both a prime conduit for and analyst of the stunning NSA disclosures of Edward Snowden. (@bartongellman) I remember hearing him a few years back explain the precautions he takes at home in New York City. As far as all that government material, “I’ve kept the material physically secure, with physical barriers to where it is. On computers that are encrypted. And it never touches a network." So he knows about security for journalists.
  6. Keith Olbermann's latest exit
    My former tenant is leaving a Manhattan apartment building that's got Trump's name plastered on the front. "I’m getting out because of the degree to which the very name 'Trump' has degraded the public discourse and the nation itself," writes the news and sports analyst. "I can’t hear, or see, or say that name any longer without spitting. Frankly, I’m running out of Trump spit." (The Washington Post) I once rented Olbermann an apartment in a nondescript building with the number "55" in small type on the awning.
  7. Oops, I almost got killed. Back to you in the newsroom
    What happens to reporters is by and large not news, no matter our self-absorption. But being on the air live and almost getting run over by a car comes fairly close. KTVU is a Fox Station in San Francisco's Bay Area and one of its reporters was doing a live shot when...(KTVU)
  8. A big spin
    "To paraphrase Mark Twain, news of the death of East Bay print journalism is greatly exaggerated. Indeed, it's simply wrong," wrote the Contra Costa Times as it disclosed how its owner will take eight dailies, including it and the Oakland Tribune, and merge them into the "'new East Bay Times. And the papers' two websites will be repackaged as" (Contra Costa Times) It railed against "misinformation" it's seen about the moves and talked about this change has its upsides. Hmmm. It's really just about saving money on production, delivery and marketing to improve profitability, says San Francisco-based industry analyst Alan Mutter, who obviously lives in the hood. "After the 20 percent reduction in headcount that will accompany the rebranding, there will be 160 editors and writers to cover 164 cities and towns (plus scores more unincorporated areas) in five extremely diverse counties with a total population of more than 5.3 million people arrayed over 4,495 square miles — a territory 1.8 times larger than the state of Delaware." Long-term editorial impact? "I suspect that the sparse, generic and superficial coverage will turn off loyal readers while failing to attract new ones — particularly in the under-60 set that publishers and their advertisers covet."
  9. Post mortem on a pipe dream
    The New Yorker offers an analysis of the inherent crock of Michael Bloomberg's now-discarded notion of running for president. (The New Yorker) So he had several dozen strategists, prepared TV ads, did polling in 22 states and set up two campaign offices. "All of this costly effort ultimately informed Bloomberg of what anybody with an ounce of political nous could have told him for free: As long as Hillary Clinton remained on the path to becoming the Democratic nominee, Bloomberg had virtually no chance of becoming president. (The New Yorker) Oh, "nous?" As Anglophile Bloomberg knows, it's Brit for common sense.
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
    Stellene Volandes is now editor in chief of Town & Country. Previously, she was executive style director there. (Email) | Jay Donovan is now a reporter for TechCrunch. He's also associate director of strategy at Resource/Ammirati. (Gawker) | Michaela Pereira will anchor a show on HLN. She's a co-host at "New Day." (LA Times) | Patrick Thornton will lead user experience at CQ Roll Call. He was director of digital products and user experience at Washingtonian. (Email) | Job of the day: Poynter is looking for an interactive learning producer. 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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