Press debates whether Justice Ginsburg's Trump-bashing went too far
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Even amid the tragedies of Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas, it's news that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would badmouth Donald Trump. She told The New York Times' Adam Liptak, “I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president. For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.” The media divisions over her comments, including a seeming joke about moving to New Zealand if he wins, are clear.
Writing in Law Newz, the website started by longtime legal affairs writer Dan Abrams, Elura Nanos announced, "I’m bracing myself for the inevitable torrent of criticism that is going to rain down on Ruth Bader Ginsburg for getting vocal on the state of American politics instead of knowing her supposed place." (Law Newz) In her mind, it didn't stretch the notion of judicial impartiality. That itself is a stretch.
Journalist Jeff Greenfield, a onetime network news fixture and legal affairs and media pundit, wondered, "If there's a redo of Bush v. Gore, how does Ginsburg not recuse herself, given her Trump comments?" while New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait tweeted, "Has a SCOTUS justice made an endorsement like this before?" (The Washington Post)
Jeffrey Seglin, a Harvard Kennedy School ethicist and policy expert, told me, "I'm not a legal ethics expert, but it would seem that being so open about views on a political candidate might result in suggestions down the road that Justice Ginsburg should recuse herself should Mr. Trump become president and cases involving his administration's policies ended up before the Supreme Court. Of course, that didn't happen when Sandra Day O'Connor expressed an opinion when Florida was originally called for Gore. None of the justices recused themselves when the vote went to the Supreme Court."
Then there's Tony Mauro, a terrific longtime Supreme Court correspondent, now for The National Law Journal and Legal Times. He told me, "I can't recall ever hearing a justice speak so explicitly about the pros or cons of a presidential candidate during a campaign. I never disapprove when justices and judges choose to speak to the press and public, but this certainly seems like an unforced error by Justice Ginsburg."
Would she have to recuse herself from cases involving a Trump administration? That's trickier. "Just because she has made it clear she does not like Trump, that does not mean she has to step aside from every case involving a Trump administration policy, if he is elected. But if the case is specifically about Trump — such as a hypothetical dramatic Trump v. Clinton disputed election case that echoes Bush v. Gore, I'd anticipate motions for her to recuse. Whether she does or not is entirely up to her — no one reviews justices' decisions to recuse or not recuse."
Can Yahoo's mess get worse?
"As Yahoo prepares to sell to the highest bidder in the midst of earning season, one firm doubts that potential buyers can reverse the company's decline." (CNBC) Yes, one Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research Group downgraded the stock to "hold" from "buy" Monday," citing illiquidity and uncertainty as the fate of the core business — and a stake in Alibaba — remain unclear."
Snapchat heads to the gridiron
"The National Football League appears to be building a team for a channel on Snapchat Discover, the mobile storytelling app’s network of media publishers. The NFL is looking to hire a managing editor for a Snapchat Discover team who can 'help create a distinguished vision/voice for the NFL Snapchat Discover channel that represents the future of the NFL brand.'" (Mashable)
"While the cult of David Foster Wallace celebrates and laments, similarly mixed emotions have set in for a very different audience: the cult of Garrison Keillor," writes Michael Shorris in an essay titled, "Complicated Midwesterners." (The National Book Review) Keillor is retiring from his Public Radio gig after 42 years while "Infinte Jest," the best-known work of the late Wallace, has a 20th anniversary. "The pair of anniversaries highlight two great American voices which have some obvious differences and some less obvious similarities. Keillor, the earnest radio host of the Midwest, is more closely tied to the East than he seems; Wallace, the sophisticated Eastern novelist and essayist, was born of and perpetually drawn to the Midwest. Perhaps their greatest difference was how adept they were at managing the challenge of living and thinking in two distinct regions."
Quite a deal
The sale of the mixed martial arts empire UFC to a longtime Hollywood talent agency run by Ari Emanuel, brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm, for $4 billion is head-turning. But there was also a graphic that reminded it's got a long way to go to reach the audiences routinely attained by mainstream sports. It's not even close. (Bloomberg) And, oh, a footnote to the Bloomberg opus notes, "There's been no word from the closely-held company on how its purchase of the Miss Universe Organization last September from, yes, Donald Trump, is going."
Quite a deal (P.S.)
"We at REDEF are hoping that he (Ari Emanuel) turns his attentions to the elevator system in his building. I wait too long. It's overthinking the problem with one of those smart elevator systems that tells you which one to walk into. All the agents miss them as they are on their mobile devices. Ari, you don't read REDEF, but if you see this, it's constructive criticism." (Redef)
How to create media buzz (illegally)
"The Federal Trade Commission smacked Warner Bros. Home Entertainment for a marketing campaign that paid PewDiePie and other online influencers to promote the video game Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor — but not coming clean about the arrangement with consumers." It barred it from similar deceptive practices in the future or possibly risk a contempt charge in federal court. (Recode)
A Twitter-CBS conventions combo
"Twitter said Monday that it will live-stream coverage of the Republican and Democratic National conventions through a partnership with CBS News. They will be the first non-sporting events to be live-streamed on Twitter in partnership with a media company." (Ad Age)
Linking Serena to the greater national tumult
From Vann R. Newkirk II in The Atlantic: "The importance of Serena's victory and her sixth Wimbledon doubles championship win with her sister Venus is intimately connected with the week of trauma and the fact that cries of 'black lives matter' currently ring out in the streets. Those cries are a demand for justice, yes, and that demand is inspirational to anyone who believes in said justice. But they’re also rooted in a fear that a better tomorrow may never come, and in terror and grief over the present cavalcade of images of dead black bodies." (The Atlantic)
Pundits do their thing as Obama heads to Dallas
The president gives a speech on race and violence today as he pays tribute to the fallen officers. At Fox News, one has its narrative that he's worsened race relations. "Fox & Friends'" Steve Doocy this morning cited Gallup polling that shows 35 percent of Americans say they worry a lot about race relations. "That is higher than anytime since Gallup asked the question," he intoned with a censorious air. A colleague informed us, "The nation will be watching. It (the speech) can't turn to armor piercing ammo and assault rifles." Heaven forbid Obama should talk guns!
"Morning Joe's" Mike Barnicle cut Obama far more slack, arguing that "he has been the man on this," namely articulating the nation's conundrum on race and violence. "He has been tremendous on this at every point." There was much talk of a new Harvard study suggesting no racial bias in police shootings. (The New York Times). There wasn't mention of how scattered and poor the reporting is of such data by many jurisdictions, which leaves some serious researchers wary of coming to conclusions of the sort. Over at CNN, there were clips of interviews with the parents of the Dallas killer and commentator Marc Lamont Hill tempering enthusiasm with the local police chief's call for some who protested to apply for the police force. Hill says the real answer is less the demographics of a police force than the structure of policing." There's point there, for sure.
On the retirement of a wonderful athlete
Wrote the new site The Ringer on the announcement by stoic Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs: "When looking back at Tim Duncan’s 19 seasons in the NBA, it’s nearly impossible to see the trees for the forest. Unlike Kobe, he isn’t a man of moments. The tapestry of Duncan’s career is dense and tightly woven. His accomplishments are as unimpeachable as his personage is blank, which has made him a modern tableau for concepts like success and greatness in their most distilled form." (The Ringer)
Press "bias" against Trump
The second installment of a Harvard study of the 2016 presidential campaign asserts clear "journalistic bias" in over-coverage of Trump even when it was clear he was the Republican nominee. And it argues that, once again, presidential election coverage is dominated by media obsession with tactics, strategy, polling and who's up and down, not policy or leadership characteristics. (Poynter) On MSNBC this morning, there were lots of polls, including one claiming Clinton with a four percent lead over Trump in Nevada and a 22 point lead among college educated voters. Yes, it's a group Mitt Romney won, as indicated by Bloomberg's estimable Al Hunt. The horse race won't be denied.