- Her own Trump interview post-mortem
Kelly last evening went after several journalists for negative takes on her Tuesday night Donald Trump interview on the Fox broadcast network. (Media Matters) I was first up (dorky photo included) because I said the session was “soft as a grape.” Pretty inflammatory, eh? An uncharacteristically defensive Kelly said these awful souls “failed to disclose their own biases” against Trump, Republicans or Fox. As for me, “This is the same man who dismissed the entire Republican Party as quote ‘anti-female.'” Drinks for the first person to find such an unequivocal assertion.
More interesting than Kelly partaking in the echo chamber of navel gazing beloved by the press (with the help of Howard Kurtz) was a missive my way from Peter Golenbock, a Florida-based sports author-journalist. His books include, “Dynasty: The New York Yankees 1949-1964,” “The Bronx Zoo” (with former Yankee Sparky Lyle), “Number 1” (with former Yankees manager Billy Martin) and “Balls” (with former Yankee Graig Nettles).
I’d likened the original Kelly-Trump feuding, and apparent rapprochement, to Martin’s and then-Yankees owner George Steinbrenner’s acidic relationship that climaxed with a reconciliation and a then-famous Miller Lite commercial. Ditto Golenbock as he was watching the other night. “Like Trump, Steinbrenner was a narcissist who wanted his name plastered across the top of every newspaper in New York City. He needed a foil to help him make headlines, and he found one in Billy Martin, whose only desire in life was to be manager of the Yankees. They hated each other but needed each other.” Steinbrenner fired Martin five times. After the first dismissal, they did what Trump and Kelly did: They buried the hatchet and, in their case, hawked beer. “Their fame grew and grew, as has the fame of Trump and Kelly” as a result of their now-dissolved disputes.
Kelly had disclosed at the end of her solicitous Trump session that she’s written a book and it’s coming out soon. The TV host with the tough-minded self-image and reputation showed viewers the cover with the magnanimity of a QVC host, though she decorously didn’t mention the price. You can bet the ranch it will be a big seller. Says Yankees historian Golenbock, “George and Billy would be envious.”
- Speculating about the missing Egyptian plane
“CAUSE OF THE CRASH: OFFICIALS NOT RULING ANYTHING OUT,” said “Fox and Friends” about the Egyptian plane crash, an event that proves there is some news that can divert cable networks from Trump and the campaign. The cable folks went into well-practiced Missing Plane Mode. Fox, no surprise, went heavy on a terrorism angle and the possibility of ISIS involvement without a shred of evidence. Its central speculator was Sebastian Gorka, a conservative counter-terrorism observer who’s also been used in recent days to suggest that Bernie Sanders and his supporters present the potential of totalitarian rule if he were elected.
Tom Costello of NBC News told “Morning Joe” that “you may well be dealing with an explosive device.” Such theories were rampant. “The lack of information, the lack of a ‘Mayday’ (distress call) means what?” asked Chris Cuomo on CNN’s “New Day.” Miles O’Brien of CNN said it’s either a technical problem or sabotage.
But colleague Richard Quest, a CNN aviation expert, provided a distinctly cautionary voice. He cited technical failures followed by incorrect pilot input in several crashes in recent years (Air France, Air Asia). “I fully accept the necessity of putting a bomb and a device on the table,” Quest said. “But I also think you must keep the technical, pilot aspect of it well and truly in the realm.” Non-TV coverage tended to be similarly reserved (The New York Times), in some cases accentuating the early “conflicting information” about the flight (The Washington Post) or how the aircraft had been used for a bunch of flights in a short period before the red eye Paris-to-Cairo trek. (The Wall Street Journal)
- Zuckerberg meets with conservatives
“Facebook’s trending news controversy hasn’t let up, even after conservatives met with Mark Zuckerberg. The world’s largest social network is still biased, they say, even if that bias sometimes happens unconsciously.” (Recode) S.E. Cupp, a columnist and CNN pundit, “said Facebook executives ‘were very clear to acknowledge that there is a problem and the problem is a serious one.'” (The Associated Press) She said Zuckerberg, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, Vice President Joel Kaplan and board member Peter Thiel “mostly listened to the 17 conservatives who attended.”
- Viacom slaps Redstone
“The Viacom board of directors voted Wednesday to stop paying 92-year-old controlling shareholder and Chairman Emeritus Sumner Redstone, according to a person familiar with the matter, in the wake of a legal fight that raised questions about his mental capacity.” (The Wall Street Journal) “His total compensation at Viacom fell from $13.2 million in fiscal 2014 to $2 million last year, as the media giant cut his bonus, according to a securities filing.”
- Tribune shareholder urges deal
Tribune Publishing’s second-largest shareholder, Oaktree Capital Management, urged the newspaper publisher again to do a deal with Gannett, which has offered to buy the Chicago company for $864 million. (Poynter) “In a letter to Tribune Publishing’s board, Los Angeles-based Oaktree said it has talked to management teams at both newspaper companies and has concluded that Gannett’s approach would deliver more value for shareholders. It sees little value and lots of risk in the business plan offered by Tribune Publishing Chairman Michael Ferro and his management team.” (Crain’s)
This clearly complicates life for Ferro, who has shown every sign of not wanting to relinquish power he acquired in February. This could now wind up in court prior to a June 2 shareholders meeting in Los Angeles. As corporate governance expert Nell Minow put it to me last evening, “This is enormously significant and could be a tipping point. It’s a public vote of no confidence in Ferro and support for the Gannett offer.”
- Real news: Gronk does ballet!
If there ever was an example of how video can supplement a digital presentation, it’s this: the New England Patriots hulky and famous tight end, Rob Gronkowski, taking a ballet lesson from a member of the Miami City Ballet. “On the football field, his footwork is magical. His ballet steps? Those could use some work.” (GQ) He’s kind of dressed like a frat boy going sailing with buddies and a keg of beer: sports shorts with a white stripe down the side and a shirt with blue and white horizontal stripes that cries out, “Brooks Brothers, Southampton, 1978.”
He first attempts a plie (“I’m feelin’ it,” he says). Then he tries a short jump. Then a second one, looking like, well, an NFL player trying a short ballet jump. Then comes an arabesque. Declaring he’s “pumped and ready,” he concludes by following his teacher’s brief routine. Casting vanity aside, he attempts to be swan-like, slowly flapping his arms, doing a jump, then a turn. “Your hands were soft, your shoulders were down, your jump was really high,” says his teacher. “Thank you very much, I appreciate it,” he responds with the grin of a little kid who just discarded his bike’s training wheels and made it all the way down the block without crashing. It’s hilarious.
- HuffPost editor calls out Medill professor
Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post called a Medill professor on an intern reference check. She later tweeted that he told her she “probably had issues” with her writing ability since her own higher-pitched voice suggested she was very young. She found his response “incredibly offensive” and generated much sympathetic response among media tweeters. Terkel declined to identify the professor, but Alec Klein came forward to say it was him and that he’d called Terkel to apologize once he saw the online hubbub. (Daily Northwestern)
- Chinese fabrications
“How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, not Engaged Argument” won’t make it into doctors’ waiting rooms, but it’s worth a look. The study is handiwork of a Harvard group led by Gary King of the government department. In sum: “The Chinese government has long been suspected of hiring as many as 2,000,000 people to surreptitiously insert huge numbers of pseudonymous and other deceptive writings into the stream of real social media posts, as if they were the genuine opinions of ordinary people.” They tend to shill for the regime. (Harvard)
- Big bucks for journalism
The MacArthur Foundation announced a bunch of journalism grants Wednesday. Those getting its dough include American University ($1.5 million), Center for Investigative Reporting ($3.5 million), Center for Public Integrity ($2 million), Foundation for National Progress (i.e. Mother Jones, $1.5 million), Global Press Institute ($1.25 million), the Nation Institute ($750,000), NPR ($4 million), Public Radio International ($1.75 million), Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting ($2.5 million), Round Earth Media ($500,000), University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism ($1.5 million) and WGBH Education Foundation (i.e. “Frontline,” $4.2 million.) (MacArthur)
- Can a dating app help Cameron avoid a break-up?
There’s a big vote beckoning on whether Great Britain should split the European Union. And “David Cameron has turned to the dating app Tinder and the LadBible website to persuade young people to register to vote in the EU referendum.” (Times of London) “There are fears among senior ministers that changes to electoral registration mean millions of people have yet to sign up.”
- Bezos rejoinder to Trump
At a company-sponsored technology conference, “Amazon.com founder and Washington Post owner Jeffrey P. Bezos fired back at presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, saying that Trump’s criticism of Bezos’s ownership of the newspaper and the threats issued against Amazon are ‘not an appropriate way for a presidential candidate to behave.'” (The Washington Post) Rhetorically, that’s rather short of Trump-like. “Amazon deserves to be scrutinized and criticized. I have no worries about that.” Trump doesn’t seem to have Bezos much on his mind anymore, quickly seeking to exploit the Egyptian Air saga by tweeting, “Looks like yet another terrorist attack. When will we get tough, smart and vigilant?” he asked this morning. He may be feeling separation anxiety with TV networks focused on another topic for the moment. (@realDonaldTrump)
- Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
Peter Thal Larsen will be a London-based writer for Reuters’ BreakingViews. Previously, he was Asia Editor there. (@peter_tl) | Job of the day: Gatehouse media is looking for editors, photographers and reporters. Get your resumes in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: email@example.com.