Shane Smith sees a 'perfect storm' coming for the press

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A few months ago Vice founder Shane Smith fronted a superior Vice-HBO documentary, "A House Divided," that detailed the issues, tactics and rancor that dominated Barack Obama's relations with a Republican-dominated Congress.

Now he sees "a perfect storm" that involves not just Republicans, Democrats and declining respect for institutions in general — but also Donald Trump's split with the press.

"The right and left and never the twain shall meet," he said Tuesday after we'd discussed other matters and he compared the documentary with what's now playing out.

He did the HBO special "to show how the system is broken and both sides are intractable and Obamacare was used (by Republicans) to further split the country."

He worries that after "a fever pitch against Obama," there's now "one against Trump. ...I think it further exacerbates this schism and is dangerous."

In the finale to the HBO opus, Obama sat with Smith outside the White House and opined about Americans becoming frustrated with the slow speed of institutions in a democracy. But, he noted, those institutions had weathered a lot of storms historically.

And that frustration, Smith sees once again, may be one of "the most dangerous things facing us."

In the current Trump-press tensions, he sees a re-run. "If two sides of the country will not speak to one another and are trying to eviscerate all around them, I think it will lead to greater strife" and the potential decline of democratic institutions.

A lot of Trump's base "is loving what he's doing" in bashing the media. Ditto a lot of ISIS supporters in other parts of the world when it comes to what ISIS is doing, even if they're lost their hold in Syria and Iraq.

When it comes to the media's sense of righteousness, "We take it as a given that what we agree on is what others agree on. Not the case."

Snapchat's roadshow

"Snapchat executives in New York were peppered with questions on Tuesday about competition from Facebook, user growth for the disappearing-message app, and accessibility in less developed markets as they pitched prospective investors on the company's shares." (Business Insider)

Verizon-Yahoo deal

Yes, it cut off $350 million from the original price. But were there other reasons Verizon went through with purchasing Yahoo? Yes, there were, including some leaps of faith about litigation that may ensue due to data breaches and a belief that millennial consumers will still benefit. The Wall Street Journal's Ryan Knutson broke some details of what went on behind the scenes, including lots of quality time spent together by the two technical staffs. (Wall Street Journal)

Immigration issued missed by the elite press

"'New York-based spice purveyor Lior Lev Sercarz, who owns a retail shop called La Boite and has supplied top chefs such as Eric Ripert and New Orleans’ Alon Shaya, worries that an immigration ban could put a damper on his industry." (Eater)

“'I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen in the near or far future, but [the immigration ban] will definitely have an effect on the spice industry if continued,' he says."

And, in case you haven't done so recently, "'Think of sesame seeds coming from Sudan,' Sercarz says. “Sudan is a pretty major producer globally of sesame. There’s also domestic and Central American sesame, but if all of a sudden Sudanese sesame stops being available on the market, it’s going to raise prices. Everybody still wants their sesame bagel in the morning, and tahini and sesame oil and whatnot.”

Spinning off mobile incubators

"Advertising agencies and tech companies are increasingly getting into the shark tank game." (Adweek) And Facebook and Snapchat are in the middle of all of it, with Facebook announcing that it would open a startup hub, Station F, in Paris for data-driven companies.

"As competition heats up for gaining and retaining consumer attention on mobile devices, a growing number of agencies are betting on — and buying into — startups focused on emerging technology. With more major tech companies, consultancies and PR firms getting into the mix, following the money could help forecast trends for this coming year."

But pressure increases to justify digital investments. There will probably be more consolidation "as tech companies close in on brands’ marketing suites. That could prompt more acquisitions by companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon" because they've got much cash on hand.

Loudmouth self-exile

Julian Assange, the most famous resident of Ecuador's London embassy, surfaces (again) to tell an Australian audience, "You're not reading pre-weaponized knowledge," he said about WikiLeaks' trove of documents "When you read a newspaper article, you are reading weaponized text that is designed to affect a person just like you."

"I think that is the real beauty of WikiLeaks... it is that sea of information, that treasure, that intellectual treasure, that rebel library of Alexandria you can go into." (CNET)

Annals of martyrdom

Breitbart announced, "Milo Yiannopoulos’s bold voice has sparked much-needed debate on important cultural topics confronting universities, the LGBTQ community, the press and the tech industry. Milo notified us this morning of his decision to resign as editor of Breitbart Tech and we accepted his resignation.”

And National Review underscores why "Conservatives deserve a better poster boy for their right to free expression." (National Review)

GOP in trouble? Huh?

The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes discerns a dark cloud in the distance, or in Houston, as he dissects Harris County election data from November.

"But crushing Republicans in a county of 4.5 million people doesn't mean Democrats are on the verge of capturing Texas. In fact, Democratic leaders were as surprised as Republicans by the Harris sweep. But it does show there's a political tide running in their direction." (Weekly Standard)

Seeking to reinvent TV advertising

Two years after it was purchased by 21st Century Fox for $200 million, an ad tech firm named TrueX is said to be making headway "as Fox and others aggressively seek ways to reinvent TV advertising." (Ad Age)

The deal came well after ad-skipping DVRs were in vogue and ad-free competitors to the broadcast goliath, such as Netflix, were on the rise, while ad blocking was getting big and ad fraud was a problem.

Facebook creeps into baseball

"Facebook is in talks with Major League Baseball to livestream one game per week during the upcoming season, which could be a key win as the social media platform works to offer more live sports, according to two people familiar with the situation." (Reuters)

Keith Olbermann

"This is the mistake Trump can't ever walk back" was the title of Keith Olbermann's excoriation of Trump's the media-as-enemy tweet. (GQ)

"Majority Leader McConnell, can you defend the president of the United States calling Americans, holding American jobs in American-owned businesses, the enemy of the American people?"

It is, he argued, "the suicide of a presidency."

Academy Awards diversity

Entertainment journalists, take note: "The Oscars are slightly less white this year." (Bloomberg) "Of its more than 7,000 members, women make up only 27 percent of voters, and people of color make up only 11 percent."

Back-channel diplomacy

So was there an ongoing discussion between Trump and Putin confederates? (The New York Times) Well, the role of Trump personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is depicted in a rather more benign light elsewhere. (The Washington Post)

Stephens at UCLA

Due to curiosity about an item on a Los Angeles speech by Wall Street Journal op-ed writer Bret Stephens, here's his awards ceremony address that critiques Donald Trump.

The morning babble

"Fox & Friends" harrumphed about the New York Daily News, which editorialized that many "so-called sanctuary cities like New York have a moral and practical obligation to refuse cooperation if and when the feds come looking to lock up and send away otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants." (Daily News) And co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed that protesters showing up at town halls about possible loss of Obamacare "probably don't even have Obamacare," offering not a scintilla of evidence of same.

CNN's "New Day" offered a pre-breakfast foray in potentially unforeseen outcomes as pundit Errol Louis warned of mass deportations proving to be a "case study of unintended consequences," namely a mess. Ditto Jackie Kucinich of The Daily Beast, who invoked the same term popularized by Robert K. Merton, a late sociologist. It wasn't as interesting as a live report from Kuala Lumpur on the search for nine suspects in the bizarre death of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

MSNBC's "Morning Joe" offered a video potpourri of dissent-filled town meetings of Republican legislators, and a protest outside one's office, leaving an image of populist unrest. And, no surprise, Joe Scarborough invoked his own congressional past (which ended 16 years ago) and the first-person pronoun with regularity.

"This is absolutely great now. And, again, I'm just talking for myself. I'm saluting the members of Congress who are going out and facing the heat because I can tell them from personal experience that pays off for you."

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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