Charting the latest falsehood
“Once again journalists are in the unhappy predicament of trying to decide whether and how to cover false allegations raised by a candidate for president of the United States,” CNN’s Jake Tapper declared yesterday with the effective concision of an old world wire service rewrite man. A deliberate but firm essay — perhaps not sufficiently theatrical for the pugilistic Trump Moment in history — skewered Trump for repeating the “outrageous and long-ago debunked falsehood” that then-Clinton White House aide Vince Foster was murdered. As Tapper reiterated, six separate investigations concluded it was suicide. (CNN)
Trump had said that he doesn’t necessarily believe the notion but others do think it was murder. “I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.” Except, as Tapper said, “Mr. Trump, you just did that.” Tapper concluded by saying that he himself wasn’t being pro-Clinton or anti-Trump but “pro-truth.” It came on a day that brought us one of the oddest political analyses of the campaign, namely David Brooks’ argument that Hillary Clinton’s great problem is an image of all-consuming seriousness. “Can you tell me what Hillary Clinton does for fun? We know what Obama does for fun — golf, basketball, etc. We know, unfortunately, what Trump does for fun.” (The New York Times)
If Brooks supplemented his day job with outside political consulting, rather than ample paid oratory, the implicit counsel for Clinton would be obvious: well-chronicled leisure activities, including perhaps tennis, poker, binging on “The Good Wife” and margarita-filled nights at karaoke bars with old chums from Park Ridge, Illinois.
For sure, many of her predicaments are self-inflicted and owing to a moat of false insincerity and inscrutability she’s built over decades. But some are not. They include animus prompted by irrational and unjust accusations, and being, well, female. Tapper underscored one of the many with the Foster matter. It’s the sort of lie that can’t be upended by a night of bowling. As journalist Joan Walsh put things in a larger context, Trump “has signaled the direction of his general-election presidential campaign, and it’s straight down the sewer. The question is whether the media will follow him there.” (The Nation) Another is whether civic education by cable TV hosts will make a difference.
Did billionaire Peter Thiel subsidize Hulk Hogan’s suit against Gawker?
Suspicions were rampant that somebody was assisting Hogan’s so-far-successful litigation over his sex tape. “According to people familiar with Denton’s thinking,” his suspicion has been that Thiel, a PayPal co-founder and early Facebook investor, was the secret funder. (Recode) Forbes now cites “people familiar with the situation who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity” in claiming Denton’s correct. Thiel “played a lead role” in funding Hogan’s case. (Forbes)
Less than meets the ear with Limbaugh?
It’s by far the most listened-to and influential radio show. “And yet, there are signs that all is not well in the (Rush) Limbaugh radio empire. Because even as his influence is sky high and his dominance at the top of talk radio remains unchallenged, as a business proposition, Limbaugh’s show is on shaky ground. In recent years, Limbaugh has been dropped by several of his long-time affiliates, including some very powerful ones: He’s gone from WABC in New York, WRKO in Boston and KFI in Los Angeles, for example, and has in many cases been moved onto smaller stations with much weaker signals that cover smaller areas.” And many advertisers left and didn’t return after he called a Georgetown law student a “slut” four years ago. (POLITICO)
Chewing over unrest in New Mexico
“Chaos” was the favorite words for cable news chyrons this morning, such as MSNBC’s “CHAOS ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL.” It was all Trump, be it protests at a New Mexico rally last night, his revival of Clinton-related conspiracy theories or what the betting markets say about him. Did bashing protesters and a sitting Republican governor of New Mexico, who didn’t show up at his rally, hurt him? “I think it helps him,” said CNN’s Chris Cuomo. Over at Fox News, they were running a clip of Rush Limbaugh heralding Trump for doing what the evil “mainstream media won’t,” namely getting down the dirty with the Clintons. But they also spent time chronicling co-host Steve Doocy’s early Tuesday search for a birthday present for his wife. Since Ann Taylor wasn’t opened yet, he got a cheapo-looking $27 “World’s Greatest Wife” trophy at a souvenir store near the office. He put it on a shelf at home “with my Emmys,” which he proceeded to show. Lucky lady.
These buds are for you
“Derek Jeter’s Players’ Tribune and Budweiser are becoming best buds. The digital publication, which Jeter started in 2014 to tell athletes’ first-person stories, and the brewer have launched a short-form content studio for videos and photos destined for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social platforms.” (Digiday) It’s an often uninspired site that’s a bulletin board for athletes (or, likely, their publicists and ghostwriters). But it has its moments, such as a Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle currently discussing “the T Train,” or NFL players waiting in line before a game to drop their pants in the locker room to get “a shot in the butt with Toradol, a powerful painkiller that will help them make it through the game and its aftermath.” (Players’ Tribune)
Snapchat’s latest valuation
Snapchat’s valuation could now be as much as $23 billion, or that’s what it is saying as it enters a new round of financing that may be in the vicinity of $200 million. Yup, $200 million from those betting on the messaging service. (TechCrunch)
Rhetorical lucre for the Clintons
“But from speeches alone, the Clintons have earned almost 62 times the average lifetime earnings of someone with a Master’s degree.” (The Washington Post) They’ve made about $150 million from speeches since leaving the White House. This analysis includes a hilarious — or depressing — live counter. Once you get to it at the bottom of the story, and click on it, it shows how much you’d have already made if paid at the same rate Bill Clinton was last year in making a single $325,000 speech to the National Association of Manufacturers in March 2015.”
Promotion for a onetime digital wunderkind
Josh Tyrangiel, who editorially revived Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek after a precocious tour at TIME, “is being promoted at VICE Media to oversee the company’s entire news division, as part of a reorganization that will see around 15 VICE News digital producers, writers and editors laid off in New York and Los Angeles.” (POLITICO) I did a column for him at BusinessWeek and he’s sharp and inventive, though founder Mike Bloomberg’s post-mayoral return to being The Boss was an element in his subsequent arrival at VICE.
Beckoning women to Esquire
Why are so many women writers in Jay Fielden’s first issue as editor? Says Fielden, who comes via Town & Country: “Because I think that’s the real secret to the genre-busting element. When you have women who are not simply in lingerie in the magazine, you’re creating a different idea about what a men’s magazine is. When you have significant bylines who are women, significant photographers who are women, significant figures in the magazine who are women, you’re actually mirroring what real life is. There needs to be a lot more realness to the magazine, in my opinion. A lot less worry about whether it’s manly or not. That’s a trope that I think has had its time.” (Adweek)
Lamely heralding a merger
“Charter Communications released a new ad related to the recent merger. In a world where Hulu, Netflix and Amazon are making video exciting, this ad could make a speed freak fall asleep. In my sick mind, I imagine someone that looks like former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara conceived this.” (REDEF) Well, it’s actually Charter Communications, but the ad about its melding with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks (“soon you’ll get to know us by the name, Spectrum”) is a snooze. (Charter) It’s fronted by a guy who resembles a younger Tony Goldwyn, the actor who plays the president in ABC’s “Scandal.” He signs off by telling us we’ll be seeing more of him in the months ahead. Yikes. Meanwhile, since my spouse chides my dated cultural references, how many readers of Jason Hirschhorn’s very good REDEF have a clue about McNamara?
Thumbs down on Microsoft’s news bot
“Like everyone else these days, Microsoft sure loves its bots. Now, the company has rolled out its own news-finding bot called ‘Rowe,’ who lives inside the latest version of Microsoft’s Bing-powered personalized news reading app, News Pro.” (TechCrunch) It’s supposed to assist us in matching news with our interests after we type in a topic. Alas, “its results are a bit limited. For example, if you type in a popular, but broad, subject like ‘U.S. Elections,’ the bot returns just three top stories, one of which currently appears to be more of an op-ed/thought piece rather than hard news. That’s not a great experience.”
Trump-busting reporter called “nasty” after exposé
“Stand by for news about @realdonaldtrump and his fundraiser for vets,” The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold tweeted Tuesday after making pleas on social media for information about Trump’s donation to a veterans charity. (@Fahrenthold) The result? After questions from Fahrenthold, Trump finally coughed up the $1 million he promised, several months later. In an interview, Trump called Fahrenthold “nasty” for asking questions. (The Washington Post) None of it has moved Trump himself. “Amazingly, with all of the money I have raised for the vets, I have got nothing but bad publicity from the dishonest and disgusting media,” he tweeted. (@realDonaldTrump)
Attention 7th grade English teachers!
The Internet is going internet. “The New York Times announced on Tuesday that it would join The Associated Press in lowercasing the name of the global network that lives in our pockets and in front of our faces, keeping us pinned to various feeds like caged mice pressing the button that summons another hit of sugar water.” This will start June 1, meaning the new internet will remain Internet until it becomes internet. (The New York Times) Now when do we get to its use of the full middle names for alleged mass murderers?
Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
Dana Bowen is now executive editor at Martha Stewart Living. Previously, she was executive editor at Rachael Ray Every Day. (Email) | Beth Parke is leaving the society of environmental journalists at the end of the year. She has been executive director there for 25 years. (Society of Environmental Journalists) | Craig Jenkins is now pop music critic at Vulture. He has written for Pitchfork, Billboard and SPIN. (Email) | Jen Chaney is now a TV columnist at Vulture. Previously, she co-wrote the Celebritology blog at The Washington Post. (Email) | Send Ben your job moves: firstname.lastname@example.org.