Will Peyton Manning's Monday farewell prompt touchy questions?

Good morning.

  1. The press prepares for a retirement
    No sooner had word gotten out about NFL icon Peyton Manning's much-expected retirement Sunday than the puffery began. It was led by ESPN, a bit too often an arm of the NFL's phenomenal marketing machine. On an early "SportsCenter" there was an abjectly laudatory piece by Trey Wingo. But, a bit later, stalwart host Linda Cohn did ask Boston Globe emeritus sports columnist Bob Ryan, "How has Peyton Manning been able to be so media friendly...to be there, to be so popular even when it appears something he has done wrong, it just doesn't stick?" She was alluding, albeit very delicately, to new allegations of his use of performance-enhancing drugs and older allegations, now revived, of sexual harassment during his college days. They were matters given scant attention elsewhere, with a USA TODAY story typical with its news story containing an almost pro forma single paragraph that opened, "Still, Manning's post-Super Bowl time hasn't been quiet..." (USA TODAY)

    Said Ryan: "I don't know how this thing is going to play out, the Tennessee thing, and the (drug allegations), we don't know how this is going to play out, fortunately it shouldn't have to play out in public now that he's going to retire." Really? But how might Monday's formal press conference go; one that Manning's ample squad of advisers (including Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman for President George W. Bush) have surely prepped him for? "Someone is going to have to ask the uncomfortable question," said Ryan. "But he will deftly swat (it) away. The room will hush. Somebody should get it out of the way, then we'll get back to football."

  2. Nancy Reagan, 1921-2016
    The newspaper obits were ready to go and cable TV went into overdrive Sunday, beckoning some long-forgotten Reagan-era figures, former star journalists from those times and, yes, even a personal trainer-physical therapist. The themes were similar — she was protective of her spouse, a big adviser and remained steadfastly at her husband's side amid his Alzheimer's. (Poynter) It was predictably puffy and largely shoved to the side some unflattering perceptions of her tenure as First Lady. Thanks to C-SPAN, too, for reprising the Reagan installment from a series on First Ladies hosted by Susan Swain and featuring journalists Judy Woodruff and Carl Cannon. (C-SPAN) And Jacob Weisberg dissected how she effectively protected her husband's image. (Slate) The coverage on TV was unabated this morning.
  3. Winter surprise at spring training
    Jessica Moran, a Comcast SportsNet reporter covering the Boston Red Sox, quit amid rumors she's an item with Red Sox manager John Farrell. The story broke in The Boston Globe. (The Boston Globe) Farrell said little over the weekend beyond the fact that he and his wife of 30 years are getting divorced. (Boston Herald)
  4. Clinton v. Sanders
    "SANDERS & CLINTON CLASH IN HEATED DEBATE" declared CNN this morning about its own Michigan debate last night even as Nancy Reagan's death garnered far more attention. Fox was big on the "gloves were off" cliche. The Huffington Post discarded the anatomically subtle as it proclaimed, "DETAILS, NOT DICKS" and found it "feisty and even cantankerous." (The Huffington Post) That theme was the morning mantra. "The session included the sharpest exchange yet between the Democratic presidential candidates over their economic plans and records." (The Washington Post) The Michigan primary is tomorrow and latest polling has Clinton far ahead and on the verge of crushing Sanders. And, lest we forget, the countdown clock on the start of CNN's coverage of "Super Tuesday 2" is plastered on the screen.
  5. It's Donald calling
    Trump called Michael Sneed, the Chicago Sun-Times gossip columnist, with whom he regularly checks in and from whom he regularly elicits ample coverage. "So what do you think of our governor?" she asked, referring to private equity mogul-turned-novice-politician Bruce Rauner. Remember, Rauner is a businessman-turned-governor of a major state. It would seem right up the alley of a pro-business GOP candidate for president. "Rauner? Who? Don't know him," said Trump. "Why? What's up?" Sneed informed him that the state is a financial basket case. (Sun-Times) Trump seemed more interested in reiterating what a great guy former Bears coach Mike Ditka is and how Trump's coming to town soon. He need not worry about paid advertisements.
  6. The big news in politics Saturday
    So what was the news Saturday night after a bunch of primaries and caucuses? If you checked out POLITICO, journalism crack for some political junkies, it was clear. It was "Sanders Lives to Fight Another Day." But wait. It also heralded, "Cruz Spoils Trump's Super Saturday." Hold it. There was "Bernie Bogs Down Hillary." And, oh, what about "Trump Savages Rubio at Florida Rally"? Or, ah, "Trump Wins Kentucky."

    "Sanders Wins Nebraska" was nearby, too, as was "Cruz Calls on Rivals to Drop Out" and "Clinton Shellacks Sanders in Louisiana." Lest we forget "Trump Wins Louisiana," "Rubio Promises Florida Victory," "Sanders Wins Kansas," "Cruz Stuns Trump in Maine," and, of course, "Cruz Crushes Trump in Kansas." This profusion of horse-race coverage isn't confined to POLITICO — an analysis from New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan published Saturday revealed that blow-by-blow campaign stories dominated the Gray Lady over a two-week period in February. (New York Times)

  7. Joe Biden, stand-up comic
    Washington's most elite (and moth-eaten) dinner, the media-heavy white-tie-and-tails Gridiron, took place Saturday. Traditionally featuring a sophomoric attempt at political humor by journalists, it also features lots of corporate heavyweights and a few A-list politician speakers who generally have farmed out their handiwork to professional comedy writers. This year, Joe Biden cracked, "I have been around long enough to remember some of the most prominent publications of the past: The Herald Tribune, The Philadelphia Daily News, The Washington Star...POLITICO….too soon?" He continued, "The fact is we all have a lot in common. Like you, I’ll be out of a job in a year, as well. And, like you, I'm thinking about what I’ll do next. I was actually thinking about starting a morning show. Invite interesting people. Talk issues of the day. I already thought of a catchy name: 'Morning Joe.'" But, he said, "I'm only kidding. Why in the hell would anyone watch a show called 'Morning Joe?'" (POLITICO) Oh, as opposed to most media, he can afford travel and just arrived in the United Arab Emirates this morning.
  8. The 'Spotlight' effect
    ProPublica is fundraising off of the Oscar victory of "Spotlight." Good idea. Go to it, guys. (@ylichterman)
  9. Gawker squares off with Hulk Hogan today
    A legal tussle years in the making kicks off today as Gawker Media faces off against ex-professional wrestler Hulk Hogan in a case that may test the boundaries of First Amendment rights on the Internet. (The Guardian)
  10. A Philly cheesesteak without cheese
    A cheesesteak with no cheese and no steak? Puhleese. The challenge is on to name the 2016 Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philadelphia, thanks to Philly.com. You can nominate any meatless sandwich you desire. The voting ends at noon on March 18. (Philly.com)
  11. An impactful small-town scuffle
    A small Georgia daily disclosed that that a hospital board was apparently violating the state’s open-meetings law and hoping it might do an about-face. It didn't. Instead, it ditched its advertising, dropped a deal by which it gave papers to patients and no longer sells papers at the hospital it oversees. (CJR)
  12. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
    Johana Bhuiyan is now a senior transportation reporter at Re/code. Previously, she was a reporter at BuzzFeed News. (@JMBooyah) | Karen Wickre has left Twitter. Previously, she was editorial director there. (Re/code) | Magan Crane will be digital presentation manager for the Washington bureau of The Associated Press. Previously, she was Web and mobile desk chief for Agence France Presse. (@magancrane) | Bill Gray is joining Issue One as deputy communications director. Previously, he was a media relations specialist for the Center for Public Integrity. (Email) | Job of the day: The (Eugene, Oregon) Register Guard is looking for a publisher. Get your resumes in! (Poynter Media Jobs Connection) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org.

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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