Trump's big speech spawns marathon of media fawning
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If you were out last night, leading a normal life, here's your CliffsNotes on the media consensus for President Trump big address to Congress:
"Good and polished speech..." "Trump's best, albeit the bar is low..." "He became 'presidential..." "Better tone..." "Heavy on nationalism..." "Softer edge for some sharp policies..." "...Will it last?"
Need any more?
Well, as soon as it was done, the cable news responses were clear and predictable:
"A very strong finish," said Martha MacCallum of Fox News, supplanting the departed Megyn Kelly in an utterly unobtrusive performance. "We were told this was going to be an inspiring, uplifting speech, and I think he hit the mark."
"One of the best speeches in that setting I have heard any president give," chimed in Chris Wallace of Fox.
On MSNBC, there was Rachel Maddow, "This will be a very well-received speech but "it will be a notable thing that the president spent a big portion trying to tell the country what vicious, murdering criminals immigrants are."
Then CNN: "This was as conventional speech playing to a conventional audience," said Gloria Borger, a longtime network (and some would say conventional) pundit.
A Dartmouth political scientist: "He's read prompter and made people think it's a pivot before. But Bannon still chief strategist & we have an immigrant crime office. Slow down." (@BrendanNyhan)
A White House reporter from the "enemy" camp: "This speech appears to be have been nominally fact-checked," tweeted Glenn Thrush of The New York Times. (@GlennThrush)
A headline from the right: "Trump lays out accomplishments, vision in sensational address to nation." (Breitbart)
A headline from the left: "Trump’s tribute to a slain Navy SEAL was crassly manipulative." (Slate)
A headline from the center: "Trump gives his hard-line campaign promises a more moderate tone in address to Congress." (The Washington Post)
A headline from the comically jaundiced: "Trump outlines bold vision for nation’s next mass protests." (The Onion)
A headline on a tangential curiosity: "MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough sits next to Dem at Trump speech." (The Hill)
Counsel from a TV satirist: "People are always overthinking Donald Trump," Bill Maher told Chris Matthews shortly after midnight. "The problem is personality, not politics...It's a neediness. It's like having Joan Crawford as president,” he said, making a cultural reference lost on most under the age of 70.
An I-told-you-so-tweet from a Trump-wary conservative bastion: “As I've been trying to tell some of my liberal friends," said National Review editor Rich Lowry, "we're just five weeks in and they shouldn't discount Trump learning as he goes."
And, finally, a reality check from those who didn't give a darn: "Mark Harmon heart attack horror — big changes for ‘NCIS.’" (The National Enquirer)
Can YouTube get you to fork over $35 a month?
YouTube's "top trending attractions on a recent afternoon included clips of a gymnasium roof collapsing in the Czech Republic, a colossal alligator lumbering across a footpath in Florida, some North Korean refugees digging into American barbecue for the first time, and a guy demonstrating how to wash a car with a baby. (Step one: Hand the baby the hose.)"
"Now, a dozen years after its creation and about a decade after its absorption into Google Inc., YouTube is on the verge of adding yet one more genre — a category of programming that has long eluded it. YouTube is finally getting regular TV." (Businessweek)
So it announced Tuesday a service to deliver a potpourri of TV channels via the internet. "For $35 a month, starting sometime this spring, subscribers to YouTube TV will be able to watch the top four broadcast networks — ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS — and 35 or so of their affiliated cable channels, including ESPN, Disney Channel, MSNBC, National Geographic, and Fox News."
Will it work? It might have a fighting chance among a young generation brought up on YouTube. Some industry analysts wonder. But CBS Corp. boss Les Moonves cut a deal with them. “We are really open to being in business with anybody as long as they pay us fairly and appropriately for our content. The YouTube people were terrific to deal with. They have a very young constituency, which is something we’re always trying to reach. They are very attuned with what we do and what our needs are."
Definition of "A--hole"
BuzzFeed disclosed that Ryan Holmes, CEO of a Canadian social media management startup called Hootsuite, had a truly adult response to Bloomberg reporter Gerrit De Vynck running a tale that argued the firm is way overvalued at anything around $1 billion.
Holmes "took to Twitter, decrying Bloomberg’s headline ('Hootsuite: The Unicorn That Never Was') as salacious, and complaining that that the De Vynck published his story without comment from Hootsuite." (BuzzFeed)
The reporter had waited a day for comment before the story was published. The reporter then tweeted Holmes with his phone number. Holmes responded with a phone number — to a paid sex phone hotline, with a man's vice offering "unpublishable favors" in return for a credit card number.
"After BuzzFeed News reached out to Holmes and his PR team, he deleted the tweet, and his PR person pointed to a followup tweet sent by Holmes that says, 'Apologies. Wrong number.'" Those Canadians are hilarious, aren't they?
Ain't it almost always the case!
"For Snap, the Truth Will Be in Advertising: Estimating Snap’s U.S. ad revenue will be crucial to properly valuing its shares in the big IPO" (The Wall Street Journal)
Bit of a surprise
"The early television news reviews of the Trump presidency are in and they are not good — not even on Fox News. This is based on a new analysis by Media Tenor, an international, independent media research firm." (The Washington Post)
They looked at 370 Trump news stories on "NBC Nightly News," "CBS Evening News" and Fox News "Special Report" between Jan. 20 and Feb. 17. A mere 3 percent of tales on NBC and CBS were deemed positive, with 43 percent were negative and 54 percent were neutral.
Life, love, entertainment, you name it, is now all subsumed by the most potent force on the planet: videoconferencing. Thus:
"Google has quietly launched a new video conferencing application called Meet by Google Hangouts, which is designed for HD video meetings. The web and mobile application appears to be the latest addition to Google’s lineup of business products known as G Suite, though product page on the G Suite website listed in the app’s description page on the App Store is not yet live." (TechCrunch)
FCC boss cites a big "mistake"
"FCC chairman Ajit Pai said today that net neutrality was 'a mistake' and that the commission is now 'on track' to return to a much lighter style of regulation." (The Verge)
"Our new approach injected tremendous uncertainty into the broadband market," Pai said during a speech at Mobile World Congress" in Barcelona. “And uncertainty is the enemy of growth.”
Unavoidably, reporting on yourself
Brian Fung of The Washington Post wrote Wednesday afternoon, "If you're experiencing some problems getting around the internet, that may be because of an outage affecting Amazon Web Services, the Amazon-owned platform that many websites rely on to keep their pages humming."
"Amazon confirmed that it was experiencing a 'high error rate' in one of its regional data centers in Northern Virginia about 1:30 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday." And he noted, "Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos also owns The Washington Post."
The bottom line after service restored? "While clearly a black eye for Amazon, the outage did prove just how ubiquitous Amazon's services are in powering the Internet." (Axios)
Most unavoidable local headline in Louisiana
"Louisiana comes in dead last in new 'Best States' ranking" (The Advocate)
Yes, as the Baton Rouge-based daily noted, it was at the bottom of the heap in new ratings by U.S. News & World Report. (Poynter)
Media gets schooled on "free lunch"
"'DeVos could End nutrition program for poor kids,' reads a headline in the International Business Times, which said '(New Education Secretary Betsy) DeVos, a staunch opponent of public schools, is taking over the nation's free lunch program that provides nutrition to low-income students.'"
"That's not true. The National School Lunch Program and the National School Breakfast Program are under the authority of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, not the Education Department." (EdWeek)
A question not confronted by Trump last night
"How many moose live in Anchorage? For the first time, residents help biologists count." (Anchorage Dispatch News)
The morning babble
On MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Joe Scarborough spoke of quiet, calm and reserve around him as he, a Republican, sat amid Democrats and next to his Baltimore congressman chum Elijah Cummings (whose seatmate for years at this event was Chicago's later-disgraced Jesse Jackson Jr., so Scarborough's an ethical upgrade).
The self-described Trump Whisperer decided to tack to the center after his latest press-as-enemy harangue only Friday. "We've pushed this too far" is what Scarborough claimed was the Trump mantra among his consigliere.
CNN's "New Day" went into fact-checking mode. For example: 94 millions American now out of the labor force? True, but 92 percent of them are retired, disabled, taking care of a family members, in school or in job training. Bottom line: true but misleading.
And "Fox & Friends" brought up Trump's use of "Islamic terrorism," with onetime Obama administration spokesperson Marie Harf, one of its modestly-assertive designated liberal pinatas, double-teamed by Steve Doocy and Lisa Boothe, a "Washington Examiner contributor."
The words whizzed by as the sun rose on the East Coast. Even cable TV junkies felt exhausted.
Correction: A previous version of this story quoted Fox News' Martha MacCallum as calling Trump's speech "uninspiring." She called it "inspiring."