Morning Mediawire: Think twice before airing a live interview with an erratic subject

Monday’s media blitz by former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg has been followed with some serious questions about the ethics of interviewing someone whose behavior seemed so erratic.

Was he drinking or drunk? Was he taking some sort of prescription medication that was affecting him? Was he trying to prank the media as his mentor, Roger Stone, was known for? Was it newsworthy?

Poynter’s ethics chair, Indira Lakshmanan, raised several key points in this piece she wrote for

“We journalists must ask ourselves first: Is the information accurate and true, and does it add to our audience's understanding of the subject? If a source is erratic, or seems to be drugged or drunk (which Nunberg denied when asked directly by CNN’s Erin Burnett), journalists should think hard about the value to our audience of airing a live interview with someone who may not be in their right mind.”

In the same piece, Al Tompkins noted:

“The main problem with the interviews is that they were live. He personally attacks some individuals, including press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in the interviews. The interviewer should have strongly challenged such statements.”

Others weighed in as well (albeit from sometimes partisan views):

  • Sam Nunberg’s live interviews were strange and uncomfortable. Should he have been on TV at all? (Washington Post)
  • MSNBC, CNN blur journalism ethics lines with ‘irresponsible’ Sam Nunberg ‘scandal porn’ interviews (Fox News)
  • ‘The View’ Debated The Ethics Of Airing Sam Nunberg’s Unhinged Cable News Interviews (Uproxx)
  • On-Air Interviews – A Complex Equation (Society of Professional Journalists)

The media ecosystem didn’t just limit itself to ethics. A whole range of Nunberg stories cropped up Tuesday:

  • Digg did some aggregating to point us toward several theories about why Nunberg acted the way he did.
  • Just who is Sam Nunberg? In a big swipe, the Washington Post labeled him the Pete Best of the Trump campaign.


GOLD RUSH: Successful daily news podcasts have become big-time money-makers, and more outlets are seeking to follow NYT’s The Daily (currently #4 on the iTunes charts). A contender: Vox’s Today Explained (currently #2), which WIRED’s Felix Salmon says has had high production quality from the start. NPR’s Up First is also in the Top 25. // In related news, tech aggregator Techmeme announced its own daily afternoon podcast, Recode’s Peter Kafka reported. // And a designer has a $35 top for podcast co-hosts, pitching it as an “outfit just as clever as the insights you share with your digital audience.”

THE SOURCE WHO KILLED: Gregory Korte, White House correspondent for USA Today, took to Twitter last night to try to reconcile an unpardonable act. “Six days ago, a source of mine unexpectedly emailed me a treasure trove of data. So far as I know, it was the last thing he did before committing murder-suicide.” Here’s Korte’s unflinching Twitter thread, and more on the case.

PRIZE-WINNER: NPR’s Renee Montagne and ProPublica’s Nina Martin took the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting for their series on America’s alarming rate of maternal mortality, the highest in the developed world. Awarding the prize, Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy noted the series saved lives by raising public awareness of post-birth complications and prompted legislation in New Jersey and Texas. America’s mothers deserve the best maternal care, said Shorenstein director Nicco Mele. “We not only owe them that dignity—it is a moral imperative.”

MORE WINNERS: The Post’s John Woodward Cox won the Scripps Howard Ernie Pyle award for this heartbreaking narrative on children and gun violence. Other Scripps winners included the San Francisco Chronicle for its breaking coverage of the Northern California wildfires, the Oregonian/, CBS News and VICE Media. The Kansas City Star took two awards.

HIRES! HIRES! HIRES!: The sports startup The Athletic has raised $20 million and plans to increase its staff from 100 to between 200 and 350 employees, reports Mediawire pal and Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Mullin. The Athletic is now in 23 U.S. and Canadian markets, and it is planning to expand that to 45.

AFTER PARKLAND, THEN WHAT? The South Florida Sun Sentinel sent a reporter to Newtown, Connecticut, after the mass shooting to find out how a community recovers, years later. One minister there said: “Our hearts are cracked, and they always will be, but the light does get in.” Yesterday, we wrote that the Florida paper’s new editor wants to cover all angles of Parkland and the emerging Never Again movement.

trump trade headlineHEADLINE HALL OF FAME: How to explain the European Union’s retaliation for President Trump’s quixotic trade war? This London tabloid plumbed Don McLean’s “American Pie”:

SPEAKING OF WHICH: “Dumpster fire” has been added to the dictionary.

SOLD: The Austin American-Statesman will become one of New York-based GateHouse Media’s largest properties after the $47.5 million sale announced Tuesday. Cox Enterprises, which had owned the paper for more than four decades, had placed Austin up for sale last fall.

BOUGHT: SheKnowsMedia, by the owner of Hollywood trade publications Variety and Deadline. The stated goal: expand its audience among women with a network of female-focused websites and a popular conference business.

APPLIED: 20,000 people, for five contributor spots for an NYT newsletter on college students and recent grads. “Maybe we were being naïve, but we initially thought we might get a couple of hundred applications,” says Lindsey Underwood, editor of The Edit newsletter.

VICTORY: For striking West Virginia teachers, they got a 5 percent raise on Tuesday — and a feeling of power. Christine Campbell, president of the American Federation of Teachers' West Virginia branch, said GOP lawmakers underestimated “the support teachers have, the hard job they do and their willingness to stand up for what they deserve as they educate the next generation." The protests appear to be spreading, to Oklahoma and now to Arizona.

THE MOST POWERFUL POST IN SPORTS MEDIA? That’s how the NYT describes James Pitaro’s new job as president of ESPN. Pitaro replaces John Skipper, who was president since 2012. Skipper resigned in December, citing a substance addiction.

OF COURSE THIS HAPPENED: First, a photo of a 2-year-old Parker Curry looking up at Michelle Obama’s official portrait went viral and melted the internet’s heart. On Tuesday, they met. And danced to “Shake It Off.” And yes, reported the Post’s Mike Rosenwald, it was just as magical as you can imagine. “She’s a queen,” Parker said of the former first lady.

michelle obama 2-year-old

What We’re Reading

APERITIF: Champagne cocktails on the breezy upper deck of a yacht off Monaco were but the start of a flawed source-building effort that led to the downfall of this Wall Street Journal reporter. His story.

APPETIZER: Dirty tricks by Open Table aimed at a rival left hundreds of restaurant seats in Chicago empty at prime times, the company said. Open Table said the employee had gone rogue and had been fired. Restaurateurs weren’t placated. “I just think that’s one of the lowest, dirtiest tactics I’ve ever heard,” one, Danny Beck, told the NYT’s Daniel Victor.

FIRST COURSE: A kosher restaurant in New York is the setting for this tale — on a Russian-linked shell company, a former Trump aide, four Republican members of Congress and a plot to influence the vote … in Albania. That’s all in the first paragraph, and I’m not even counting the Ukrainian online dating site.

PALATE CLEANSER: Skip the lemon sorbet, The Atlantic wants to know why rich people are ruining wine.

SECOND COURSE: Want to feast on talent? Millennial talent? Here’s the geographic distribution in the U.S., by Richard Florida and City Lab (graphic via Brookings Institution):

brookings millennials

DESSERT AND COFFEE: Young voters’ strong belief in racial egalitarianism may triumph over Trump’s politics, writes Jamelle Bouie in Slate. “At this particular moment, ethnonationalism is politically ascendant.” Bouie writes. “But it’s not unchallenged, and its opponents are beginning to take the field.”

A ‘FIRST’ SHOULD BE LAST: You may just say so what, but we’re wondering: Is this a first for this emoji in The New York Times? Tell us — or whatev.

NYT Shruggie

New on

  • A new report shows a lack of progress for women of color in the media. Women of color represent just 7.95 percent of U.S. print newsroom staff, 12.6 percent of local TV news staff, and 6.2 percent of local radio staff.

  • The South Florida Sun Sentinel has a new editor and a new directive: Report the hell out of Parkland.

  • The largest population of Somalis in the United States resides in Minnesota. So Minnesota Public Radio reached out to them ... in Somali.

  • Profile picture for user AGlover

    Anne Glover

    Anne Glover worked as an editor at the Tampa Bay Times for more than 33 years, and has been a visiting faculty member at Poynter teaching copy editing and leadership.


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