The White House's reality-proof press briefing
Good morning. Here's our morning roundup of all the media news you need to know. Want to get this briefing in your inbox every morning? Subscribe here.
The White House can't leave bad enough alone. It was in overdrive as CNN retracted a story and accepted resignations from three journalists who were responsible. In the process, it countered one dubious story with another.
The White House knew it had red meat after CNN's screwed-up story linking a Trump ally to a Russian investment fund. So, what a coincidence, it broke with its new habit of not allowing cameras into the no-longer daily press briefing.
There, spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders laid into CNN, despite the fact that the subject of the network's story had already accepted its apology.
"I think it’s the constant barrage of fake news directed at this president probably that has garnered a lot of his frustration," she said. She claimed "multiple other instances where that outlet that you referenced has been repeatedly wrong and had to point that out or be corrected." That unidentified outlet would presumably be CNN.
She then took public relations chutzpah to a new low by urging the assembled to check out a video produced by James O'Keefe, a right-wing propagandist, that catches a CNN producer of no great stature criticizing his employer about coverage of the Trump campaign and administration links to Russia.
"There’s a video circulating now, whether it’s accurate or not I don’t know, but I would encourage everybody in this room, and, frankly, everybody across the country to take a look at it. I think if it is accurate, I think it’s a disgrace to all of media, to all of journalism."
Stop. "There's a video circulating now, whether it's accurate or not I don't know..."
My late friend Christopher Hitchens, the provocative author and longtime Vanity Fair columnist, noted how George Orwell discerned that words were beginning to mean anything but what they appeared to mean. Thus, as he said, we were verging on "the outline of a discourse in which, for example, 'freedom is slavery' was slowly taking shape in his mind.'"
And where Sarah Huckabee Sanders will tell the world to check out a video even though "whether it's accurate or not I don't know."
Sanders could make a case against the media on a lot of different levels. The self-inflicted wounds are substantial. And they only accelerate as employers allow TV-hungry print reporters to take side gigs on TV, tweet day and night and spout unadulterated opinion.
The employers rationalize it all as good for "the brand." Sanders could assign minions (presumably the 20-something children of campaign donors) to collect the daily examples of reporters getting away with analytical murder. That would be more convincing than promoting videos whose truth you concede you can't confirm.
But it's like working for her boss. You repeat his ramblings, whether accurate or not. And, when this part of your life is over, maybe take an analyst's gig at CNN.
Microsoft moves on cloud technology
"Microsoft Corp. cut a deal Tuesday with competitor Box Inc. to partner on cloud-computing technology in an effort to get ahead in the emerging business." (The Wall Street Journal)
The science of targeting proceeds apace
Facebook "is introducing a new household audience feature that will let brands direct ads to entire families or to specific people within a household. The tool, which the company announced today, could help aim ads at people who influence purchasing decisions and other ads to the people making the actual purchases." (Adweek)
Why the EU is pissed at Google
Bloomberg takes you through why the European Union fined Google.
For example, it gives you a screenshot that shows "results for a search in Germany for 'gas grill." Five Google Shopping ads take up the most valuable part of the page at the top. No other comparison shopping websites show up in the first couple of links."
Google has 90 days "to come up with its own solution, as long as it gives equal treatment to competing price comparison sites. If it doesn't do that, the EU will fine it up to 5 percent of the entire company's daily global revenue."
Nose for news
"As news broke Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would delay a vote on the Senate GOP health care bill, Fox News touted a report on former President Barack Obama’s 'lavish' family vacations."(HuffPost)
New deal for soccer fans
"Starting this summer, one of the country’s biggest cable programmers will let people stream one of the world’s most popular sports — without paying for cable." (Recode)
"Instead, NBCUniversal’s NBC Sports unit is going to offer a direct-to-consumer subscription package that will let soccer fans watch live games from the Premier League, the high-profile U.K. league that features many of the sport’s biggest teams, like Chelsea and Manchester United."
You can get 130 games for 50 bucks.
Sarah Palin sues The Times
Her defamation suit filed in New York involves an editorial that seemed to link the 2011 Gabby Giffords shooting to a Palin political action committee. The paper had already run this correction:
"An editorial on Thursday about the shooting of Representative Steve Scalise incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords. In fact, no such link was established. The editorial also incorrectly described a map distributed by a political action committee before that shooting. It depicted electoral districts, not individual Democratic lawmakers, beneath stylized cross hairs."
Joy in Gainesville
No, the Gainesville, Florida Sun didn't top its paper with news of the Senate Republicans in Washington postponing a health care vote. No, this was a no brainer via Omaha, Nebraska:
The morning babble
"Trump & Friends" paid homage to, yes, Sarah Huckabee Sanders for her podium screed Tuesday and then went empirical on us with data on the 353 minutes spent on the Russia/Comey investigation by the ABC, NBC and CBS evening newscasts between May 17 and June 20. The comparative analysis it used showed 47 minutes for climate change, 29 for fighting terrorism, 17 on Obamacare repeal and 5 minutes on the economy/jobs.
Shhhhh. The Cubs come to the White House
Glenn Thrush, a New York Times beat reporter, leaves little doubt about his take on the arrival of a championship sports team: "Per sked: Trump doing closed press meet-and-greet with the Cubs tomorrow in the Roosevelt Room cos such meetings need to be held in secret." (@GlennThrush)
This would constitute two bites at the apple since the Cubs moved heaven and earth to do the ritual post-championship visit during the waning days of the Obama administration. And they did. There was at least one top team official who didn't want to the ritual hosted by Trump, according to a source familiar with the original contacts.
Trump's flair for suspect interior design
Pulitzer Prize winner David Fahrenthold, the Washington Post reporter who's perfected the use of social media in procuring facts, now discloses that the framed Time magazine cover of the president hanging in five of his golf clubs (from South Florida to Scotland) is a fake. (Washington Post)
It has a big photo and headline: “Donald Trump: The ‘Apprentice’ is a television smash!” And above the Time nameplate, one finds “TRUMP IS HITTING ON ALL FRONTS . . . EVEN TV!”
Somebody might ask Sarah Huckabee Sanders about this fake news.
Cutting against the populist grain
"Over the years, Monocle has become as much a status symbol as reading material. Its editor is one of the world’s foremost lifestyle auteurs, a tastemaker of late capitalism and 'a Martha Stewart for the global elite.'” (New Republic)
Tote bags for the $130-a-year, 10-issue publication "marks an itinerant tribe of 80,000 who may identify more with the magazine than with the country on their passports." Really? Whatever. Let's see if it survives the populist age.
A failed experiment
The Toronto Star is ditching Star Touch, "the expensive ($23 million invested!) tablet-only app it launched in 2015. The app’s shutdown is accompanied by layoffs of 29 full-time employees and one part-time employee." (Nieman Lab)
Another early obituary for journalism
"The big news in American journalism today has been that reporters, editors and producers at legacy journalism organizations have become so eager to dispute the more questionable pronouncements and proposals of the Trump administration. Increasingly, they are prepared to label the president’s wilder statements and tweets 'falsehoods' or even 'lies.'"
The "big news," asserts New York University's Mitchell Stephens in Politico, "is that many of our best journalists seem, in news coverage, not just opinion pieces, to be moving away from balance and nonpartisanship."
What you need to know about Sen. Mitch McConnell
"Though raised a Baptist he converted to Obstructionism in 2010"
"He and President Trump have bonded over a shared interest in creating a world in which President Obama never existed."
His favorite part of the job is "waking up every morning and knowing he's making a catastrophic difference."
With thanks to the Almanac of American Politics. Wait. Thanks to The Onion.