June 7, 2016

Donald Trump, host of the 24/7 “Beat the Press,” is now straining when it comes to that “Mexican” judge who’s allegedly not giving him a fair shake. “A clearly irritated Trump told his supporters to attack journalists who ask questions about the lawsuit and his comments about the judge. ” (Bloomberg) “The people asking the questions — those are the racists. I would go at ’em.” And his acolytes should really hammer TV reporters, he said. As Mike Murphy, the Republican political consultant and Hollywood writer, told me after this acidic volley, “Trump lacks any wider perspective than his own narcissism and self-interest. Insane.”

“Horrible,” said Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney’s campaign chief in 2012 and an author-screenwriter. “So sad. A racist is going to be nominee of a major party in 2016.” So Trump persists in trying to goad the press and doth protest too much, it appears, on the matter of Trump University litigation. He’s not been very convincing on why that enterprise targeted single parents with children who were desperate to make a living. Part of his defense is that, well, he was a disengaged chief executive. That’s reassuring, isn’t it, given the job he now seeks? And, remember, this was long before he started spending quality evening time with Fox’s Sean Hannity — at least when Hannity is not warning us about the proliferation of “left-wing agitators” in our midst, as he was (again) last night.

As MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” saw it this morning, Trump had “doubled down” on the judge by revoking his own aides’ urging to supporters that they stop criticizing the judge. Ditto the “New Day” take at CNN. Over at MSNBC, Mika Brzezinski claimed that top Republicans are now “negotiating like women in Washington 20 years ago. You think they’ll be nice to you,” with “nice” referring to sucking up to Trump.

The whole situation harkens to the 1954 Communist witch hunt of Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy, with the press now placed in a role similar to McCarthy’s nefarious, stealthy evildoers. Back then, the Army hired Boston lawyer Joseph Welch to help defend it against McCarthy’s charges of lax security at a top-secret facility. But the senator even suggested at a hearing that one of Welch’s own attorneys was linked to a Communist organization. Responded Welch, “Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?” (YouTube)

BuzzFeed turns down RNC ads

BuzzFeed says it won’t take ads from the Republican National Committee since Donald Trump is “directly opposed to the freedoms of our employees in the United States.” Good idea or bad idea? (Poynter) Well, if you’re going to be in the journalism business, you presumably want to be willing to hear the other side. This suggests that the digital upstart sees itself as purer than the driven snow and presumably runs no ads from any advertiser whose products could impair its employees in any way, shape or form.

Of course, it appears slightly more flexible when it comes to taking money from folks who themselves will run Trump ads — like NBCUniversal, whose investment in BuzzFeed is in the area of $200 million. And, says Jeffrey Seglin, a policy and ethics expert at Harvard’s Kennedy School, there’s this matter: “If Buzzfeed wants to be taken seriously as a news source, then the bar has just been raised to make sure it doesn’t slant its news coverage toward the Democrats over the GOP.”

Gannett plays the waiting game

“In a press release issued Tuesday morning, the newspaper company said it’s “determined to keep its offer in place” as it ‘evaluates various near-term developments.’ Among them: Tribune Publishing’s second-quarter financial results, which are due later this summer.” (Poynter) Gannett has made an $864 million offer for Tribune Publishing (soon to be Tronc) and its 11 major metro dailies.

Covering a double suicide

“The decision by Joe and Jean Subers to end their lives in a final act of togetherness was meticulously planned down to the three notes they left — one for the deputies who would find them, the others for their sons. In them, the couple who had been married nearly 59 years — a ‘Camelot couple,’ a friend said — explained how Jean’s constant physical agony had led them to this moment.” The Gainesville, Florida Sun did a nice and sensitive job covering this tale, including the reminder that even as the couple ask for final understanding, “Experts in suicide prevention, and survivors of suicides, emphasize that in most cases there are other options.” (Gainesville.com)

Fixing your workplace email

“Hiri is the latest startup trying to fix email. Specifically, the Dublin-based company is targeting workplace email with an array of features that aim to nudge users to change their email behaviour for the better. For it isn’t email that is necessarily broken but the way we all use and abuse it.” (TechCrunch) It starts with the premise “that thoughtless and un-targeted emails fill a very high percentage of your work email inbox, Hiri’s headline feature is the ability for recipients to rate each email they receive, which serves as the basis for your own email score or email analytics.”

Declaring Hillary the winner

One might have thought that the media had two alternative headlines to mark a likely Clinton victory tonight in the New Jersey primary: “Clinton Clinches Nomination” or “Clinton Wins New Jersey.” There’d been debate on whether, even after a win there, she could be said to have wrapped up the party nomination. In part this involved differences of opinion on calculating the 571 so-called superdelegates committed to her but who don’t actually vote until they get to the convention. (Poynter) But who needs to wait that long? Last night came the competitive frenzy within about half an hour: “AP Count: Hillary Clinton Has Delegates To Win Democratic Nomination” (The Associated Press) “Hillary Clinton Secures Delegates Needed to Clinch Democratic Nomination, AP Tally Finds.” (The Wall Street Journal) “Hillary Clinton clinches Democratic presidential nomination,” CNN declared last night. (CNN) “Hillary Clinton Has Clinched Democratic Nomination, Survey Reports.” (The New York Times)

Over at “Fox & Friends” this morning, the chat was focused on Clinton-Sanders as an ongoing fight, not calling anything over. It seemed equally intrigued with the death of mixed martial arts fighter Kimbo Slice and, more so, the Veterans Administration spending money on gender reassignment surgery. The latter was offered up as further Fox evidence of the decline of Western civilization due to the government machinations of liberals.

Fact-checking Trump

Does it matter? The Washington Post weighed Trump’s complaints about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, and its Fact Checker feature gave him an ignominious four Pinocchios for shading the truth. “Once again, Trump greatly stretches the facts to the point of Four-Pinocchio inaccuracy. We can’t fact-check whether or not Curiel has a bias against Trump; that’s Trump’s opinion. But what is clear is that Curiel made a straightforward legal judgment as to whether two sides agreed or disagreed on facts, and whether or not they should be presented to a jury. Further, Trump says the case should’ve been ended with a summary judgment, but fewer than 10 percent of federal court cases in key districts between 1975 and 2000 were resolved in that way.” (The Washington Post)

David Lamb dies

“David Lamb was the consummate newspaperman in the glory days of the profession. Especially for young reporters dispatched to the Persian Gulf War in 1990 and 1991, a chance to work with the veteran journalist and writer was like being teamed with a hero.” (Los Angeles Times) He died at age 76 of cancer in a Virginia hospital. “As a reporter, Lamb enjoyed the nomadic life, absorbed what he witnessed, made ‘friends not sources,’ as one editor put it, and wrote masterfully — even poetically — about people and events in the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.”

A prospective gambit by The Times

“The New York Times is ‘exploring the possibility’ of selling a ‘higher-tier,’ ad-free digital subscription package,” its chief executive told a conference not open to the press. (Ad Age) On the subject of ad-blocking technology, he said, “No one who refuses to contribute to the creation of high-quality journalism has the right to consume it.” The “right?”

A deadly serious change of pace

CNN host Ashleigh Banfield read a 12-page court statement from a victim in a Stanford University sexual assault case. The statement was at least three days old and had gotten a lot of attention on social media. Throw in commercials and one interview and recitation came to 31 minutes. (The Washington Post) Obviously, given the occasional Trump-driven monotony of cable news these days, it was notable in subject matter and C-SPAN-like duration. “Then the network went back to politics and the gorilla.”

Wanna work for Twitter?

“Twitter’s consumer product boss Jeff Seibert, who just took over Twitter’s core product team back in September, is no longer running Twitter product, according to multiple sources. Seibert, who co-founded Crashlytics, will go back to running Twitter’s developer product suite Fabric, which he was doing before the promotion in the fall.” (Recode)

Who needs a sports department?

Denver Broncos star Von Miller “spent Monday basically live-streaming the Denver Broncos’ visit to the White House to meet President Barack Obama. Miller posted photos and videos of the trip on Snapchat.” (ESPN.com) ‘Highlights included this selfie of Miller and now-retired quarterback Peyton Manning — which he also posted on Instagram — before takeoff from Denver.” He also shot video in the Oval Office and throwing a football with Wounded Warriors near the Washington Monument. Hey, maybe he can handle Broncos game coverage, too, after any future rounds of cost-cutting at the Denver Post.

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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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.…
James Warren

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