Press shocked as Clinton-Sanders get 'ugly'

Good morning.

  1. Media's hyperbolic take on a lively tussle
    Yes, "And then there were two," as New Hampshire's key TV station puts it this morning. (WMUR) But you'd think blood was shed and the cops called as the remaining Democrats faced off and a frustrated Clinton "took matters into her own hands." (The Associated Press) He wasn't a wallflower as "Clinton and Sanders get ugly." (POLITICO) It was a "caustic debate" where she accused him of "attacks by insinuation and innuendo" on her integrity. (The New York Times) She further accused him of an "artful smear." (Union Leader)

    As Slate even offered a running account of pundits' self-important tweets (Slate), the candidates "scowled, frowned, and cut each other off as they traded attacks that had before been launched from the less personal remove of press releases and tweets." (The Boston Globe) Puhleese. It's called a debate, not yet another generally polite recitation of campaign talking points.

    And thanks to fact-checkers who pierced vivid exaggerations, notably Clinton sounding a victim as she decried how Wall Street and the monied powers "are trying to beat me in this primary." No, Wall Street "is not the anti-Clinton monolith she implied," contributing $20 million into PACs backing her or directly into her campaign. (The Associated Press)

    MSNBC did well running the show and what was a solid two-hour debate, as decreed by its own Chris Matthews, squinting into the camera lights. We rarely see them these days, so we need not be quite so taken aback when people, well, debate.

  2. Lost in the Super Bowl fray
    The Washington Post dug into the disputed Al Jazeera America investigation into whether star athletes, including NFL star Peyton Manning, used performance-enhancing drugs from from an Indianapolis anti-aging clinic. (The Washington Post)

    The press has devoted far less energy to this matter than on the very dubious NFL "Deflategate' kerfuffle involving NFL star Tom Brady. Is is due to Manning's sterling public image? The Post confirms via Manning crisis manager Ari Fleischer, a former White House flack, that the clinic did ship medication to Manning's wife. Fleischer wouldn't say exactly what was shipped.

    Manning has denied the Al Jazeera the story, the key source has recanted what he claimed vividly on camera and the network stands by the story.

  3. A sincere form of flattery?
    Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith should feel flattered, I guess. Last November, he detailed how questions about Sen. Marco Rubio's poor Senate attendance and use of state party credit cards perhaps mirrored his part-time academic life where public records demonstrated a similar pattern: "basic expectations for the job unmet or ignored, dubious accountability and oversight, and job opportunities that would be highly unlikely for anyone without his political stature." (Tampa Bay Times) A BuzzFeed reporter (@BuzzFeedAndrew) now notes the similarities between his work and a new piece on the same subject by NBC News (NBC News)
  4. Adelson's daily wage (cont.)
    There was hoopla over casino mogul Sheldon Adelson's secrecy-filled purchase of the Review-Journal, as if it were the first time an ideologically-driven mogul has purchased a media property. Now, "What began as an abstract fear of a powerful new owner’s political hand wanting to steer the paper’s news coverage..has become a reality. Says one knowledgeable insider flatly, 'Adelson bought the paper because of the content.'" Stories involving him "are being reviewed, changed or killed almost daily." (Capital New York)
  5. New looming power at Tribune Publishing
    Chicago tech entrepreneur Michael Ferro sold a healthcare firm to IBM for $1 billion last year (nearly a quarter of that came his way). But the 49-year-old has really craved owning his hometown Chicago Tribune even while running the market's No. 2 offering, The Chicago Sun-Times.

    Now he's purchased 17 percent of parent Tribune Publishing, which has seen its stock fall by two-thirds since its spinoff from Tribune Company. Wall Street was not especially pleased by simultaneous word of foregoing its dividend, and shares fell by roughly a quarter in mid-morning trading. (Bloomberg)

    Ferro has made some big deals and surely won't be a passive non-executive chairman of a company whose biggest asset is the Los Angeles Times, long its independent-minded Western outpost. He says he's stepping outside from operating involvement in the Sun-Times, which is printed by the Tribune in a very lucrative deal that now places him on both sides of a significant contract.

  6. Takes one to know one
    When a reporter was canned from The Intercept, a site on national security, for egregious fabrications, the New York Daily News sought response, if not wisdom, from Jayson Blair, a notorious fabricator during his New York Times tenure. After inspecting what happened, including extensive cover-ups by the reporter, the Virginia-based life coach said, “It was like seeing in writing my own thought process (at the time)...It’s sad for me to see.” (Daily News)
  7. A top-notch graphic
    How great is the ISIS threat in the U.S.? Here's one way of laying it all out in an engaging graphic from The New York Times. If you're a paper looking to get people to actually pay for your content, here's probably the sort of quality you best produce each day.
  8. Where people get their political news
    A Pew Research Center report says "Cable news (24 percent), social media (14 percent) and local television (14 percent) topped the list as most helpful for news consumers, followed by news websites, radio, and national network news." (Poynter) Local newspaper were at 3 percent, with national newspaper like The New York Times at 2 percent. However, there was no mention of how so many broadcast outlets just rip and read from what they find in newspapers each day, often without any credit.
  9. Murdoch cuts
    This sound familiar? Newspaper cuts due to declining revenues for yet another quarter will hit Rupert Murdoch's British and Australian newspapers. (The Guardian) They won't say yet whether that means cutting bodies.
  10. Rachel Maddow on whether opinion overtakes facts
    You remember Playboy, don't you? There was nothing like its long interviews during its heyday. And a new one with Maddow has its moments. Is it baloney that the press was once more "objective?" "I don’t have any animus toward the old news model, but I do think it’s facile and reductive to claim news was once unbiased and is now biased. Every time you choose which stories are important that day, you’re using news judgment and your subjective perspective on things. I lived through a lot of news cycles as an American citizen before I was ever in the media. Much of the news I cared about was designated as unimportant, frivolous or not worthy of mainstream attention, and that was someone’s political decision." (Playboy) Check it out and have a good weekend.
  11. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
    Richard Wronski has launched the Chicago Transportation Journal. Previously, he was a transportation reporter for The Chicago Tribune. (Email) | Job of the day: The (San Luis Obispo) Tribune is looking for a sports editor. Get your resumes in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves:

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Editor's note: This story has been updated.

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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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