An exhausting, eventful odyssey
Admire Katy Tur. But don’t envy her.
Very much by accident, Tur wound up NBC’s Donald Trump beat reporter, as she writes in “My Crazy Year With Trump” in Marie Claire. She was a London-based correspondent with a “go bag” with loose linens and mosquito repellent, leading a life of “intrigue and adventure” in various foreign locales. There was a French boyfriend and plans for a Sicilian vacation with him in two weeks when she left clothes in the dryer, milk in the fridge and flew to New York for a brief planned charitable act for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She would not return for 10 months.
She wasn’t a political reporter. But she happened to be in the newsroom when they needed somebody to cover Trump’s seemingly improbable announcement he was running for president. She wound up assigned to him, having now visited more than 40 states and made more than 3,800 live TV appearances, many for MSNBC. Her often stolid appearance is itself a comfort in an era of hyperbolic TV showboats.
As many know, she’s also earned the wrath of Trump many times for just doing her job. He’s badmouthed her at press conferences and in tweets. The nastiness of others on social media is at times unprintable. There’s been his chaotic schedule and mix of derision and flattery toward her. And, as the months have passed by, “I’ve lost a diamond earring, a gold ring, a glove, two hats, a blazer, and one boyfriend (au revoir, Benoit), who said of my schedule: ‘This is not what we do in France.’ Friends and family have married, divorced, given birth, and died during this campaign, and I’ve missed it all.”
It’s a terrific piece that really does capture the grind, and some of the pleasures, of the road (and the rarity of NBC’s female-dominated campaign reporting crew). And, though she doesn’t really bring it up, it’s perhaps worse in a world where most candidates, like Hillary Clinton, are so press-wary and keep the media at bay on long, monotonous and orchestrated days. Most have to produce far more content in a digital age than their “Boys on the Bus” predecessors of long ago. There’s a disjoint between the image of the big-time campaign reporter and reality of exhausting languor. Trump, at least, is unpredictable if galling — and has been the great story of the campaign. In a TV universe where airtime is the currency of the realm, Tur thus won the lotto, if not the abiding affection of a Frenchman.
And, well, there’s life on the road, whose essence hasn’t changed in certain primal ways. “So, yes, things happen. And it’s obvious. The not-so-stolen glances. The not-so-subtle arm touches. The loud laughs at jokes that aren’t particularly funny. I mean, it’s pretty glaring when a Marriott Rewards loyalist suddenly shows up at a Hilton. I know at least one couple with plans to marry post-election.”
As for the next few months, a fish operating quite well out of water only knows “that this most bizarre campaign will get even more bizarre before the ballots are popped.” (Marie Claire)
Gawker’s blowout bash
Gawker Media founder Nick Denton took time off from depositions and a mountain of litigation to throw a (court-approved) end-of-an-era party last night in advance of next week’s bankruptcy auction of his 14-year-old company. “I don’t think anybody ever expected that the company would be in as good a shape as it is right now,” he told The Daily Beast. “Traffic is up 20 percent since April. Revenues are up!” Also putting on an upbeat facade was Gawker event planner Victor Jeffries, who was taken aback when asked by Daily Beast reporter Lloyd Grove why he so cheery. “What do you want me to say? Is this about you or about us?” (The Daily Beast)
The creditor’s committee was told Tuesday that the party would only cost $1,000. It’s admirable frugality in a time of duress. (The Wall Street Journal)
Don’t be surprised
The New York Times’ Eric Lichtblau and Eric Schmitt bring word that “A Russian cyberattack that targeted Democratic politicians was bigger than it first appeared and breached the private email accounts of more than 100 party officials and groups, officials with knowledge of the case said Wednesday.” (New York Times) Fifteen months ago, Newsweek offered a smart piece: “Russia’s greatest weapon may be its hackers.” (Newsweek)
“It’s really scary”
On “Morning Joe” this morning, co-host Mika Brzezinski said she’s chagrined that the Republican nominee for president of the United States is given to “tweeting Joe (Scarborough) in the middle of the day. Tweeting our show. It would be really flattering except it’s really scary.” Meanwhile, there was lots of talk of new emails showing contacts between the Clinton Foundation and State Department. The best was on CNN’s “New Day,” where both The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and CNN’s Jeff Zeleny poked holes into the Clinton campaign’s lame initial response, though Zeleny wondered of its impact, if any, on voters even as the disclosures underscore why many don’t trust the Clintons on the foundation-State Department relationship during Clinton’s tenure as secretary.
Yours for only $1,995
TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference in San Francisco, which starts Friday, “is the world’s leading authority in debuting revolutionary startups, introducing game-changing technologies and discussing what’s top of mind for the tech industry’s key innovators,” as it puts it. And you can get a three-day “early bird” pass now for $1,995. (TechCrunch) Hey, you could get three “Hamilton” tickets for that amount. OK, maybe two “Hamilton” tickets.
“Can cost-cutting save fashion magazines?”
The Business of Fashion notes how “instead of doing away with the print product altogether, publishers are getting creative. Set against a challenging backdrop of falling advertising sales and circulation figures, they are experimenting with a range of ways to cut costs, including pooling staff and sharing content across multiple titles.”
Ad sales for September issues aren’t terribly strong and, more telling, “in its latest report covering June 2016, InStyle, Marie Claire and Glamour reported year-on-year drops in audience viewing for combined print and digital editions of 3.8 percent, 2.5 percent and 10.5 percent respectively, though Cosmopolitan, Self and Vogue grew by 0.8 percent, 9.7 percent and 7.1 percent over same period.” (Business of Fashion)
Striking gold at the Olympics
The New York Times makes much of the rather old news that rich former wrestlers, several big Wall Street successes, fund hefty bonuses to U.S. wrestlers who win Olympics medals. There’s $250,000 for winning gold. (The New York Times) A bunch of nations, it turns out, pay hefty bonuses, with Singapore ($741,000) and Indonesia ($381,000) leading the pack. (Money Under 30) The U.S. gives bonuses of $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. Members of Congress, led by Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, have failed to pass legislation to make the bonuses tax exempt. They’re treated like regular income. (CBS News)
Strange but true
“Twitter is not legally responsible for the rise of ISIS, rules California district court.” (The Verge) Huh? “The lawsuit argued ISIS’s persistent presence on Twitter constituted material support for the terror group, and sought to hold Twitter responsible for an ISIS-linked attack on that basis.” Well, can one sue it for its material support of self-absorbed journalists, communicating their every waking, banal thought to 25 followers?
Tiger would be envious
President Obama played golf on Martha’s Vineyard with former basketball stars Alonzo Mourning and Ray Allen and businessman buddy Glenn Hutchins. Mark Knoller of CBS News, a chronicler of all things presidential, says it was his 302nd round while in the White House. Duffers, step back and consider: 302 rounds. Envious?
You’ve had a year of media polls heralded as news. And there has been no shortage of “sh*tty” media polls, says acerbic GOP consultant-author Mike Murphy. But, if history is correct, now is the time to start inspecting the methodologically sound ones since, say most experts, if a candidate is leading polls several weeks after the last party convention, that candidate is very, very likely to win. (U.S. News & World Report) It’s also a topic of a Murphy podcast that includes his burying the hatchet with Stuart Stevens, another GOP consultant and author, who oversaw the 2012 Mitt Romney campaign. (Radio Free GOP) They are now united in their animus toward Trump.
Reminder to press: the Libertarian Party
John Sides, a George Washington political scientist whose “The Monkey Cage” blog is terrific, earlier dissected what he deemed a pretty interesting notion: “The forecasters at Good Judgment were increasingly confident that a third-party presidential candidate could actually win at least 5 percent of the vote — a rate of success that third parties or independent candidates rarely reach in presidential elections” Well, now, “that forecast has become even more confident… There is now slightly better than a 50-50 chance that a third party could get at least 5 percent of the popular vote. That’s striking.” (Monkey Cage)
Sports and opinion
Fox Sports boss Jamie Horowitz (a fellow Amherst grad) says, “There has been this incredible, precipitous decline in linear TV ratings for traditional news and highlights programming. ESPN has made a big bet on SportsCenter. More than 50 percent of ESPN’s programming is SportsCenter. FS1 has an opportunity to make a big bet on opinion-based programming. And that’s where I think the opportunity lies in the day part. Skip Bayless’ final year at ‘First Take’ was the highest-rated single year in the history of ‘First Take.’ For 15 consecutive months he beat SportsCenter. Opinion-based sports programming is setting record highs.” Yes, never-equivocal Bayless is among new Horowitz hires. (Hollywood Reporter)
The inside poop on NFL QBs
ESPN.com’s Mike Sando got 42 unidentified “league insiders” — 10 general managers, five head coaches, seven offensive coordinators, five defensive coordinators, eight personnel evaluators and seven other position coaches/executives — to rate 33 NFL quarterbacks. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger are the only members of the top of five tiers, meaning they can carry a team each week and teams win because of them.
The possible surprises for some diehard fans might include Kirk Cousins (ranked 20th) of the Washington Redskins and Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears (21), both placed in tier 3, meaning they’re legitimate starters but depend heavily on a very good team around them. They will earn base salaries of nearly $20 million and $16 million, respectively, this season. Readers of People might know Cutler as spouse of TV “personality” Kristin Cavallari. (QB rankings)
So why are those female gymnasts so small?
Here’s some interesting journalism from David Epstein, author of a book on the “science of extraordinary athletic performance,” on something you might be wondering about at the Olympics: “You’ve probably noticed that the gymnasts are pretty small and that Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast probably ever, is small even compared to her American teammates. But at 4-foot-8, Biles is actually only slightly smaller than her peers. In fact, over the past 30 years, the average elite female gymnast has shrunk from about 5-foot-3 on average to about 4-foot-9.” (Slate) So what’s the deal? “Because the more demanding gymnastics routines have become, the bigger an advantage it is to be small. A smaller gymnast not only has a better power-to-weight ratio. She also has a lower moment of inertia.”
The National Enquirer’s latest issue
Be apprised: “Donald is determined to protect America from this gang of greedy goons and con men,’ a top GOP strategist said in this exclusive National ENQUIRER interview. That includes President Obama — with The ENQUIRER’s bombshell report exposing the stunning charges that will be leveled against the current POTUS as he spends taxpayers’ dollars to campaign for Hillary!” (National Enquirer) Wow! There’s more:
“The new issue of The National ENQUIRER also reveals how Donald plans to dish the dirt on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s troubling background — and Michael ‘Little’ Bloomberg also has plenty to hide when it comes to his personal, professional, and political secrets!”
Oh, no, those 20-plus grand a year Bloomberg terminals may start exploding!