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An on-air shaming
Anderson Cooper, celebrity and TV host, can be an acquired taste if you’re not big on news anchors who get dry-humped by Madonna on stage at a concert. But he appropriately mixed passion with fair-minded inquisition Monday as he made a total fool of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a hopeless right-wing partisan and a onetime analyst for Fox News. (CNN) In particular, he underscored her waffling on, or arguably outright opposition to, gay rights. When she ran for office, she made clear her opposition to gay adoption. (Politifact). Now in office, she’s pressed onward with litigation that shafted gays and lesbians.
Her performance verged on the pathetic as she declined to reconcile her ongoing pursuit of the litigation with her fumbling attempt to pose as an advocate for gay rights. In light of the Orlando shooting, she couldn’t do much better than say she’d been fighting with a local funeral home for overcharging victims’ families. “I am not championing anything but Floridians.”
“It’s just that I have never really seen you talk about gays and lesbians and transgender people in a positive way until now,” Cooper said. “I read your Twitter history for the last year, and I saw you tweeting about National Dog Month and National Shelter Dog Appreciation Day or Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. It’s National Gay Pride Month, and you’ve never tweeted about Gay Pride Month.” Her bumbling, rhetorically fractured response would inspire dyspepsia even among the most lapdog of press spokesmen.
“If you look at my website now, we have hands clasped together, all different colored rainbow hands people…The only thing I’m championing are human beings whose lived were lost.”
Cooper evinced stoic incredulity and succinctly concluded, “Thank you for all you’re doing on behalf of the victims.” It was damning with faint praise, and rightfully so.
A ravenous gator and Scarborough
CNN’s “New Day” opened this morning with the Orlando shooting, including a now regular food fight between liberal Bakari Sellers and conservative radio host Ben Ferguson, the latter lauding Trump’s “clarity” on Islamic terrorism. “Fox & Friends” was fixated on the little boy snatched by an alligator at a Disney resort, with co-host Steve Doocey informing that he’d had a timeshare down there and saw alligators all around.
At MSNBC, your home for born-again Trump detractor Joe Scarborough, it was heavy Trump, only briefly interrupted by the alligator. In particular, he continued his 180-degree pivot by pointing to a Bloomberg Politics poll showing Clinton leading Trump by double digits, including 63 percent of women who claim they’d never vote for him. (Bloomberg Politics)
His thrust was more muted but distinct from the Trump partisan of months past. Trump’s own conspiracy theories, including those on Muslims and President Obama, “cannot be explained away by Republican leaders who line up behind them. They cannot escape history if they don’t make him back off those words: The Muslim ban, some of the worst elements of this political campaign that’s gone wildly off course.” Fine. But, as legendary Post reporter Bob Woodward told Scarborough, the GOP establishment’s chagrin is of little consequence to Trump’s angry core.
An iconic firm is sold but its photos can still be yours
Johnson Publishing, a bastion of Black journalism, is exiting publishing after 71 years in Chicago. It’s selling Ebony and what’s now the digital-only Jet magazines to an Austin, Texas private equity firm. Its attempt to make the print-to-digital transition just hasn’t panned out under Desiree Rogers, a Chicago executive who returned home after a brief and somewhat tumultuous tenure as White House social secretary for President Obama.
“A family-owned business throughout its history, Ebony has documented the African-American experience since it first hit newsstands in 1945. It has shaped culture ever since, coming into its own as it reported from the front lines of the civil rights movement during the 1960s in powerful photos and prose.” (Chicago Tribune) Curiously, its photo archive, which is a wonderful window onto black history, remains up for sale. They put that on the block last year but didn’t fetch the price (a reported $40 million) it sought. Word of the sale didn’t get a whole lot of attention, a reflection on the company’s seeming descent into a certain unfortunate irrelevance.
Hedging against a Trump presidency
Great little story: “How do you hedge against a Donald Trump presidency? It’s a question Wall Street traders are increasingly asking. Citigroup Inc. and Barclays Plc say they have figured out at least one part of the answer: Short the Mexican peso. For any number of reasons, the currency would fall and fall quickly following a Trump victory in November, analysts at the banks say.” (Bloomberg) Those reasons include seizing remittances to pay for a wall to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Weaving a Gawker-Trump dispute
Right after billionaire Peter Thiel fessed up to financially supporting Hulk Hogan’s case against Gawker, the embattled digital news operation “drew potential connections between Trump and the work of a $60,000-a-pop hair-extension company called Ivari International.” The story drew lots of praise, including from newspaperman-turned-TV producer David Simon, who only wished the press had been so vigilant in checking the Bush administration’s claims against Saddam Hussein. Theil’s lawyer has now threatened Gawker with litigation if it doesn’t take the piece down. Gawker finds his claims to be, “on their face, ridiculous.” (Gawker)
How’s the gay magazine in Orlando doing?
Watermark was founded in 1994, publishes every other Thursday, is distributed in Orlando and around Tampa Bay and has a staff of 13, three of them in editorial. (Poynter) It “quickly started creating resources for readers: how to give blood, where to donate money, lists of vigils, information about traffic closures and coverage of how the community has pulled together.” On Thursday it will publish a large package about the tragedy.
Cutting a cord
It’s a small window onto newspaper ills: “The Newspaper Association of America is closing its national ad sales firm — Newspaper National Network — at the end of the month.” (Poynter) It will lose around $1 million alone in the first half of this year. It will “yield to Nucleus Marketing Solutions, a startup venture backed by Gannett, Tribune Publishing, Hearst and McClatchy.” The vast majority of digital ad dollars now go to Google and Facebook and the industry is a victim of its slow-as-molasses response to the internet.
Buying an AR-15
Well, it’s truly reassuring to know that we must be getting way stricter in checking out folks before they buy a semi-automatic rifle. The Huffington Post says one of its reporters was able to buy an an AR-15 in 38 minutes in Orlando. (Huffington Post) But a Philadelphia Daily News columnist bought one the day before in seven minutes in Philadelphia. (Philly.com)
Trump’s version of First Amendment
Yes, he’s barred reporters from The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Univision, Politico and others from his events because of their alleged unfairness. But, he now assures, he’ll let them cover him in the White House if elected. “It’s a different thing,” Trump said, in a piercing insight and declaration of magnanimity. (CNN) “When I’m representing the United States, I wouldn’t do that. But I would let people know if somebody’s untruthful.” It’s like a guy telling his fiancé he’ll stop physically abusing her once they get married.
An editor’s pessimism
Aluf Benn, editor in chief of Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, is rather glum. “Israel — at least the largely secular and progressive version of Israel that once captured the world’s imagination — is over,” he writes in the July-August Foreign Affairs. Over? Really? The nation’s leaders “see democracy as synonymous with unchecked majority rule and have no patience for restraints such as judicial review or the protection of minorities. In their view, Israel is a Jewish state and a democratic state — in that order.” A two-state Palestinian solution seems off the table, he contends in “The End of Old Israel.” (Foreign Affairs)
The word from Tirana
Here’s great stuff for late-night tavern wagers: “Until two years ago Albania, which has a population of only three million, had 22 national daily newspapers, one of the highest numbers in the region. By the end of 2015 there were also two national television stations, two satellite channels, one foreign channel (TV5 Monde) and 66 local television channels that broadcast in analog. There are also 83 cable television channels, spread all over the country. (European Journalism Observatory) Alas, now two sports newspapers then closed, followed by the fourth-largest TV station. Now the third biggest daily has shut its print edition.