What do right-leaning journalists think of Trump coverage?
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As with Lady Gaga Sunday night, Kellyanne Conway gives us a million reasons.
Conway, a senior advisor to President Trump, was on Fox News with Howard Kurtz earlier in the day, proceeding apace with delegitimizing the press.
She spoke of "selective coverage" and "information underload," meaning the press was nefariously keeping the good stuff about the Trump White House from the American public. A million reasons why the press is unfair to her boss.
So, what do experienced hands from conservative and libertarian newsrooms think about the coverage so far?
"I think the media are in grave danger here of mishandling their responsibilities on an epic scale," said John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine.
"The Trump administration is a target-rich environment for the media, but tone is everything," he says. "Mainstream reporters going on Twitter and becoming participants in the politico-culture war against him will discredit the efforts of their institutions and will end up preaching only to the anti-Trump converted."
A further interesting notion from him: "In this case it doesn’t matter if only three New York Times reporters do it and the other 20 on the beat don’t; the three color the rest. Circumspection and discretion will be essential for the investigative discoveries to have punch and effect."
But social media make circumspection and discretion all but impossible, Podhoretz said.
"Editors and publishers of news organs who decide to take the long view here and step in and save their institutions from the corrosive and corrupting seduction of Twitter snark will save themselves from simply becoming just part of a hostile 'opposition' Trump will have some justification in trying to discredit."
Thus far, the biggest obstacle to covering Trump has been balancing short-term and long-term stories, said Katherine Mangu-Ward, editor in chief of libertarian Reason magazine.
"I'm not sure the media are doing a great job of that so far," Mangu-Ward said. "There's been a lot of scrambling to keep up.
"Reacting after the fact to each (un-telegraphed, un-vetted) policy change isn't the only role of the political press. (Nor is it to 'keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,' contra Steve Bannon.) Instead, publications like Reason, which look to provide policy recommendations and analysis, are going to have to work extra hard to prepare to cover all of the eventualities, banking experts and expertise so that when the administration pulls its next two-headed rabbit out of hat, 'we're ready.'"
Michael Barone, longtime columnist, TV analyst and the founder of "The Almanac of American Politics," was concise with his assessment of how the press is performing.
"Extreme hostility combined with bafflement," says the senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner. "Resulting in some trenchant criticism and some over-the-top frothing at the mouth."
As Steve Hayes, new editor in chief of The Weekly Standard, says, there's no doubt the press has an obligation "to call him on his dishonesty, both the casual and significant kinds. He lies about subjects big and small, meaningful and inconsequential."
"It'll be crucial to call him on his mistruths," while focusing on broad policy, too. "The two things are easily separable, of course, but because it's easier to write short squibs about Trump's lies on crowd size or millions of fraudulent votes doesn't mean that those things deserve more coverage — or more comprehensive coverage — than his staking out a new direction on trade with China or his friends-no-matter-what approach to Vladimir Putin."
"A big challenge for the media in the Trump era — maybe the big challenge — is regaining lost credibility," Hayes said. "There's abundant brow-furrowing and navel-gazing about the skepticism news consumers have toward traditional media, but there's too little real examination of why that is, in my view."
Groups, led by The New York Times, are calling lies lies. He agrees with that. But Hayes finds a certain self-congratulatory fanfare that implies they've just learned that politicians don't tell the truth. Alas, there are dozens of examples of Obama administration mendacity that "went unreported."
Concludes Hayes, "Ask journalists to come up with examples and many would scratch their heads. Ask conservative news consumers and they'll rattle off a list — real examples, not fake news — that simply never captured the attention of the legacy media." Maybe not a million reasons, but a lot, he says.
Upping the print run in the digital age
"Nobody frames a snapshot of a home page and puts in on their wall," Brian McGrory, editor of The Boston Globe, told me before the game. "Not yet, anyway."
So the paper upped its print run by around 25 percent for this morning, given the home team's win. It held deadlines to make every possible print paper. It was expecting a surge in traffic.
One day people will frame a snapshot of a home page and put it on their wall. Not quite yet.
Trump's early morning Twitter wrath
On a morning that included much cable news criticism of Trump and a tough New York Times story on fumbling and lack of organization in the White House, he hit the world with an early tweet:
Are fashion mags all "garbage?"
Marie-Amélie Sauvé, a famous brand consultant and fashion director of The New York Times' T magazine, says this of fashion magazines: “Most of them look like garbage. What I see in magazines is not desirable. That needs to change. For me, all the fashion shoots I see, they all look the same.” (The Financial Times)
If you somehow missed it
Melissa McCarthy executed an instant "Saturday Night Live" classic with her spoof of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
You can bet that Spicer will premeditatedly seek to make light of it at Monday's daily White House briefing (actually the so-called "gaggle" on Air Force One since Trump will be in transit). And that the assembled, conscious of wanting to stay on his good side, will guffaw over what will be seen as self-deprecatingly humor on Spicer's part.
But let's see if he lives down the wickedly unflattering caricature. (SNL)
Flak from chiding Trump
Eric Posner is not bleeding-heart ACLU liberal. He's an often quite conservative University of Chicago Law School professor, who used the New York Times op-ed page to urge Neil Gorsuch to publicly condemn President Trump for badmouthing the "so-called" federal judge who blocked his immigration order. (The New York Times)
He got so much response, he's used his blog to respond to some of the criticism. For example:
"1. 'Many presidents have criticized judges. Haven’t you heard of Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘banana’ comment about Holmes?'"
Posner's response: "Presidents have frequently fulminated against judges in personal terms in private, and often disagreed with the Supreme Court about its rulings in public. I still haven’t heard of a case where a president publicly attacked the character of a judge who ruled against him."
"Do these distinctions make a difference? Yes they do. A president is entitled to express his constitutional views, and to criticize people, including judges, who disagree with them."
Meanwhile, check out this Wall Street Journal story raising doubts about what Trump said was Gorsuch's involvement in legal assistance programs at Harvard while a law student there. You might well say, "Ah, so what?" It's underwhelming, as if it undermines his credential even if accurate.
Cheering on the Pats
One of New England's cheerleaders last night was Theresa Oei, a researcher at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Yes.
"Oei, who studied molecular biophysics and biochemistry as an undergraduate at Yale University, began working in 2015 at the Broad Institute, a biomedical research facility in Cambridge. She spends her weekdays there developing genome editing technologies in the lab of Feng Zhang, a core institute member and associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology." (Boston Globe)
As for the cheerleading, she's got a background in Irish step dancing and tried out for the squad despite never having been a cheerleader.
"First Reads: The cruel history behind your treadmill" is the header on Sunday's First Reads newsletter from The Washington Post. But a story on the popularity and history of the machine was far from the first, or most serious of the newsletter's stories. It was preceded by ones on Trump's immigration order, a Trump interview with Fox that lauded Putin and a bill to make legal the unintentional running over of protesters by law enforcement.
But the premeditated clickbait worked with me.
How bad are our roads?
Transportation writers, check this out:
"The decaying state of the United States roadway system can be costly for drivers. For companies where vehicles are central to the business model, it’s no trivial concern. Speaking before a hearing in Washington, D.C. earlier this week, FedEx CEO Fred Smith spoke about the need for improving the nation’s roadways, and reported that his company is using twice as many tires as it did two decades ago because of the state of the country’s infrastructure." (The Verge)
Here's a headline for you
"First on the White House agenda — the collapse of the global order. Next, war?" (The Guardian)
The "narrative" of trigger happy cops
Charles Campisi, who was head of the New York Police Department's internal affairs division for nearly two decades, says that in 1971, the first year of such data, officers shot 314 individuals, 93 of them fatally. (The Wall Street Journal)
By 1991, it was down to 108 shootings and 27 fatalities. By 2015, the most recent available year, it was down to 23 shooting and eight fatalities.
"Despite the impression often created by TV news and social media, not all but many law-enforcement agencies have dramatically reduced the number of officer-involved shooting incidents."
An analysis you definitely can exploit
You notice those tax preparation ads during the game last night? Well, PC Magazine earlier rated the best tax preparation software and sticks Intuit TurboTax Self-Employed 2017 (Tax Year 2016), TaxAct Online Premium 2017 (Tax Year 2016), H&R Block Premium 2017 (Tax Year 2016), Credit Karma Tax 2017 (Tax Year 2016) and TaxSlayer Premium 2017 (Tax Year 2016) at the top. (PC Mag)
The new era of disclosure
Mark Landler, a New York Times White House reporter, had pool duty in Palm Beach, Florida, on Saturday and spent a bunch of his day at a Denny's as Trump (as his predecessor did) keep the press far away. But, unlike Obama, they wouldn't even come clean with whom he was playing.
"WH official tells the pool that they do not have information on POTUS' golf partners," Landler wrote colleagues.
Really? Wouldn't disclose his golf partners?
"Not yesterday. Not today," Mark Knoller of CBS said to me Sunday. "Wouldn’t even confirm to reporters he played golf during four-and-a-half hours at the Trump Club. Today a spokeswoman said he’s having a meeting and might play a few holes. Was spotted in a golf cart on the course, however."
Here's my theory as to why he might to want you know whom he plays with. You might ask them if he cheats. That was the case not long ago with the great boxer Oscar De La Hoya, who confirmed how big a cheater he can be. (Golf)
What you didn't hear during the Super Bowl
As you munched away, be informed that there were geographical patterns to the munching. Google Trends discerned the top recipes requested and divided them into the categories of desserts, dips/salsas, wings, chili, and “other.” The beer categories were ale, India pale ale, and porter.
"The final score: Dessert is MVP on the West Coast, which has the strongest sweet tooth. Among the most popular Super Bowl dessert recipes searched in America were cupcakes, including 'football cupcakes' in Texas." (Eater) The Midwest and East Coast tended to look for dips and salsas to accompany wings and tortilla chips.
The favorite dip was apparently the buffalo wing dip, which was in sync with the popularity of wings.
As for beer, ale topped the list, followed by pale ale. But just one state, Arkansas, showed a craving for porters.
Drew switches on Watergate analogy
Writing this morning in Politico, Watergate-era veteran Elizabeth Drew concedes, "Watergate? The question came mainly from people who weren’t around at the time. My answer was either, ‘no’ or ‘not yet.’"
"Well, the situation just changed, and moved significantly toward what was at the heart of Watergate. Donald Trump’s immediate reaction to the ruling Friday night by a federal judge in Washington state ordering a hold on his immigration plan might have been the prelude to a constitutional collision between the president and the judiciary. It was just such a showdown that led to the end of Richard Nixon’s presidency." (Politico)
The morning babble
"Fox & Friends" likened the Patriots comeback win to what, else, Donald Trump's upset over Hillary Clinton "In the end, no fumbles, just execution," said Brian Kilmeade who must have missed a game in which the Patriots fumbled and had a pass intercepted. And tell Ainsley Earhardt that Robert Kraft is the owner, not the coach.
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" was back on Trump and that stupid federal judge tweet, with Joe Scarborough saying he's on the verge of writing positively about Trump but keeps getting delayed by self-inflicted Trump wounds.
CNN's "New Day" dissected Trump's latest interview with Bill O'Reilly, especially has latest parsing of millions of illegal votes. He now opts for reference to "registration rolls," which has nothing to do with the claims of illegal votes, as CNN's David Chalian noted.
And the assembled, including co-host and Fox alumna Alisyn Camerota, chided Trump for responding to O'Reilly's reference to Vladimir Putin as a "killer" by saying, "There are a lot of killers. We gotta lotta killers. Why you think our country is so innocent?"
MSNBC's Scarborough had called it "baffling" and a simply outrageous comparison. Yup. A million reasons to support that conclusion.