Press pivots to Trump vs. Clinton with balletic grace

May 5, 2016
Category: Newsletters

Good morning.

  1. Who’s Bernie Sanders?
    The press pivoted Wednesday (albeit without tights) as if it were Misty Copeland or a youthful Mikhail Baryshnikov. Primaries, what primaries? It’s on to the General Election campaign now that it’s decreed Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton the party nominees. But, rather than offering us county-by-county breakdowns, replete with disclosure of all information, CNN’s John King was giving an early state-by-state rundown for the fall.

    Joe Scarborough this morning at least looked back 24 hours to call John Kasich’s exit speech “very moving but he had nowhere to go” — before arguing that his guy, Trump, essentially has until August to turn around his many negatives or will lose. Mika Brzezinski, a Trump acolyte, said talk of whether he can turn around his image “is a made-up controversy.” He can turn it around anytime he wants, she claimed in a stretch.

    Meanwhile, Trump was embarking on a “costly and vicious six-month battle for the White House against Democrat Hillary Clinton.” (The Washington Post) “He enters the race as an underdog against Hillary Clinton.” (National Review) “The electoral map looks very good for the Democrats now, but complacency would be a mistake.” (The New Yorker) Academics predicted a “We Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” affair. (U.S. News & World Report) “Think the fireworks so far have been eye-popping? This is just the start.” (BBC) Run as centrist, perhaps rankling folks on the left, or go left and perhaps send some folks scurrying to Trump? (The Atlantic) Whom should he pick as a running mate? (The Boston Globe) “Major Garrett, who has been covering the Republican race, said senior Trump advisers have told him if Trump is the issue, they lose.” (CBS)

    There wasn’t a whole lot on Bernie Sanders, who won Indiana, and even less introspection on a year’s worth of errant analyses and predictions. Thank goodness for longtime Washington political analyst Charlie Cook. “The thing that I never thought would happen is really happening. The idea that the Republican Party would nominate Donald Trump — reality TV star, real estate developer, and all-around showboat — seemed ridiculous and, as I kept saying, inconceivable.” (Cook Political Report)

  2. Does a court battle beckon?
    “Tribune Publishing Co.’s board unanimously rejected a $815 million unsolicited takeover offer from Gannett Co., saying the bid undervalues the owner of the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.” (Poynter) Gannett offered $12.25 per share for stock that was hovering around $7 in recent months. The new chief executive, Michael Ferro, doesn’t want to give up the reins. So the ball is now in the court of Gannett, or perhaps another major shareholder.

    My wager: The board of directors of Tribune is likely to find itself in a Delaware court sooner rather than later, with an unhappy Gannett or other party essentially saying, “Ah, guys, Gannett’s valuing the company a whole lot higher than the market was before this offer.” The rejection came amid it’s reporting very poor quarterly results and heralding a move to make the Los Angeles Times a worldwide authority on entertainment. (Poynter)

    As Gannett put it Wednesday: “If Tribune’s Board and advisors view Gannett’s $12.25 per share proposal to be undervalued, the Tribune Board should release its analysis to Tribune shareholders to justify its issuance of shares to Michael Ferro at $8.50 per share in February 2016.” If shareholders don’t make off handsomely in coming weeks, lawyers might.

  3. New, old media “at war!”
    Round up all women and children. Or at least smartphones. New media and the old are at war. “A new MSNBC promo features a direct attack on Twitter. “‘We break news, yeah’ says the voiceover in the MSNBC promo, ‘but we do more than that. If all you want is headlines, check your Twitter feed.'” (Weekly Standard)
  4. Stats guru calls Trump notion nuts
    It would appear that “the earliest Trump could assemble the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination is on the final day of the primary season, June 7, when the big states of California and New Jersey vote.” (The Washington Post) But a top aide told the paper “our goal is in the middle of May.” FiveThirtyEight boss Nate Silver saw that and decrees it’s “delusional.” (Silver) His own track record on Trump has been spotty.
  5. Good luck, guys
    Here’s a tale of millennial impotence that was being recycled Wednesday. “Some Facebook employees used a company poll to ask Zuckerberg whether the company should try ‘to help prevent President Trump in 2017.'” (Gizmodo) In theory, they can plot to bar any mention of Trump on Facebook. Good luck. It would be more effective to steal his cell phone and thus cripple much cable news morning programming.
  6. Taking some time off
    Ed Henry of Fox News, a former president of the White House Correspondents’ Association who does not lack self-confidence, is taking time off amid what’s reported to be an extramarital affair with a Las Vegas hostess. (New York Daily News) “‘We recently became aware of Ed’s personal issues and he’s taking some time off to work things out,’ a Fox News spokeswoman told the Daily News.”
  7. The Donald Trump of sports
    Like Donald Trump, Charles Barkley is able to get away with rhetorical outages through sheer force of personality. After the Cleveland Cavaliers shellacked the Atlanta Hawks last night, he was punditizing on TNT and kept jabbering about how the Hawks should have “taken out” a Cavalier for shooting three-pointers long after the game was decided.

    It wasn’t a slip of the tongue and a couple of colleagues appeared to be taken aback. He really thought that Atlanta should have “sent a message” by intentionally creaming a rival for supposedly rubbing it in. When host Ernie Johnson said that they’d turn to a different subject related to the game after a commercial, Barkley said that there was nothing more to talk about after “that ass whipping.”

  8. TMZ and Prince
    The mainstream may gag at TMZ’s modus operandi. But on the death of Prince, they may prove to have been ahead of the game and on the mark. “The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration is now involved in the death investigation of Prince, and our law enforcement sources say drugs are the focal point of the criminal probe. Our sources say the DEA and the Minnesota Attorney General are looking into the various prescriptions that were written for Prince, and the focus is opiates. Prince had a life-threatening Percocet addiction and authorities believe opiates will likely be either the sole or at least a significant factor in his death.” (TMZ)
  9. Tough day at the office
    Nigerian journalist Jacob Onjewu Dickson wrote a story about kids who “pelted the state governor with rocks as he tried to broker a peace between residents of two adjacent neighborhoods.” He’s was then arrested and charged with incitement as a result of the story. He goes on trial next week. (Committee to Protect Journalists)
  10. Gobbling an alt weekly
    “Another alternative weekly has been purchased by a big daily, continuing a trend in recent years that has seen alts come under the arm of nearby mainstream newspapers.” (CJR) Now it’s the Free Times in Columbia, South Carolina, which was bought by Evening Post Industries, parent of The Post and Courier in Charleston.
  11. Home away from home
    Sean Hannity again provided a cozy forum for Donald Trump Jr. last night. “Don, junior, great to see you. I’d shake your hand but I can’t,” referring to being seated a good distance from him, not about the propriety of doing same. He segued seamlessly to a commercial and, then, bashed Hillary Clinton for being “caught in a massive lie about destroying America’s coal industry.” At minimum, Hannity seems to now have a vacation replacement as host at the ready. Call it, “Hannity (With Junior).”

  12. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
    Julia Ioffe is joining POLITICO Magazine. Previously, she was a writer for The New York Times Magazine. (@juliaioffe) | Amanda Wills will be a senior editor at CNN. Previously, she was deputy executive editor at Mashable. (@Hadas_Gold) | Brian Ries will be a senior producer at CNN. He is Mashable’s real-time news editor. (POLITICO) | Job of the day: Entertainment Tonight is looking for a staff writer. Get your resumes in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves:

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