May 3, 2016

Good morning

  1. A tale of gullibility
    James B. Stewart, a great financial writer, recently detailed how “many boldface names enabled the stratospheric rise of the blood-testing startup Theranos,” including former high-ranking government officials and Walgreens. (The New York Times)

    But there’s another party that’s helped enable a company whose claims to run a broad range of tests from a finger prick “proved to be grossly exaggerated, if not entirely false” — the media. As Vanity Fair puts it, “If you peel back all of the layers of this tale, at the center you will find one of the more insidious culprits: the Silicon Valley tech press. They embraced (Theranos boss Elizabeth) Holmes and her start-up with a surprising paucity of questions about the technology she had supposedly developed.”

    She was profiled in many places, including The New Yorker, and even appeared on Vanity Fair’s own New Establishment list. “But it was a passage in that New Yorker profile, written by Ken Auletta, that led” Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, to start wondering. Now, after Carreyrou’s investigation, federal prosecutors have started a criminal investigation into Theranos’ possibly misleading investors. (The Wall Street Journal) The media, of course, can’t be indicted for being merely credulous.

  2. Bill O’Reilly, self-described pugilist
    There was a brief dustup between Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim and Fox News’ Jesse Watters after the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. So O’Reilly had Watters on last night. After Watters said he didn’t swing at Grim, O’Reilly said he “would have been in jail” after the confrontation.(Media Matters) Yes, a 66-year-old Mike Tyson, a paragon of self-restraint.

    Meanwhile, comic Larry Wilmore, whose dinner routine rankled some, used his show last night to deride Piers Morgan (and others) for bashing him for, in their minds, using a slur toward Obama in his final line. In fact, as Wilmore counseled those who don’t know, he was using a Black-to-Black term of endearment, “my nigga.” At the same time, “I completely understand why people would be upset about that. It’s a very charged word. I get it.”

  3. Gannett asks Trib shareholders to “withhold”
    On Monday, Gannett announced it was seeking “withhold” votes from directors running for positions at Tribune Publishing’s annual meeting on June 2. (Poynter) Michael Ferro, Tribune’s new boss, is resisting. If the deal were to go through, Gannett would have about 17 percent of the nation’s daily newspaper circulation of 41 million. (Bloomberg) Meanwhile, Oaktree Capital Group, Tribune’s no. 2 shareholder, reportedly wants the newspaper company to talk to Gannett, according to multiple anonymous sources. (Reuters)
  4. Hulk Hogan’s latest lawsuit
    After winning a $140 million judgment against Gawker Media over its decision to publish an edited sex tape, Hogan is now suing Gawker for allegedly leaking the very racist recordings to The National Enquirer that resulted in World Wrestling Entertainment bidding him farewell. (New York Post) Gawker retorted that Hogan is “abusing the court system to control his public image.”

    A legal bottom line: The big question is the inherent newsworthiness in such a privacy claim. The sex video was one thing (a dubious claim, despite his victory), but this one probably isn’t even close. The wrestling group canned him as a result of this stuff, not the frolicking with his former friend’s wife.

  5. A soccer stunner without precedent
    It was the top of the BBC website (“one of the greatest sporting stories of all time”) for a long time yesterday and with good reason. Leicester City, a 1,000-to-1 longshot at season’s start, clinched the championship of England’s Premier League in soccer. There’s no real counterpart in American professional sports, it’s that stunning. (BBC) “This is the biggest upset, bar none, in sporting history,” said ESPN soccer announcer Ian Darke. (ESPN) No surprise, I counted 14 stories on the front of the online Leicester Mercury when I heard the news. (Leicester Mercury)

    It’s almost as if a bunch of guys who were playing in an industrial softball league a few years back got into Major League Baseball and won the World Series. But it was bittersweet news for Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait, who decided against putting his customary 20-pound bet on Leicester City, costing himself nearly $150,000. (CNN)

  6. Obama goes local
    President Obama’s agenda includes getting the Senate to take up the nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. But he pushed the case Monday with exclusive interviews with TV anchors including Cammy Dierking of WKRC in Cincinnati, Steve Karlin of KCCI in Des Moines, Kathy Mykleby of WISN in Milwaukee, Kari Lake of KSAZ in Phoenix and Josh McElveen of WMUR in Manchester, New Hampshire.

    As is often the case with these formulaic apple-polishing sessions, the anchors got to hang at the White House a big chunk of the day, meeting with presidential advisers. Dierking tweeted, “Best. Day. Ever.” All the reporters agreed in advance to ask Obama at least one question about Garland. No question, no interview.

  7. Andrew Sullivan on Trump
    Sullivan, a former prolific blogger, returns to the writing fray in New York magazine to conclude, “In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction level event.” (New York) With Anderson Cooper on CNN last night, he left no doubt. “I think he threatens our civil order.”
  8. The raid on bin Laden
    With ample White House help, CNN’s Peter Bergen did a good job documenting the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. In “We Got Him: Obama, Bin Laden and the War on Terror,” Obama sits with him in the Situation Room (not Wolf Blitzer’s set, the real one) and describes observing one of the helicopters getting damaged. (CNN)

    The details include an incredulous Obama wondering why the team resorted to using a six-foot-tall SEAL to measure bin Laden’s height. “We had $60 million for a helicopter and not $10 for a tape measure?” He later presented Admiral William McRaven with a tape measure. The compelling show’s bottom line: the raid has made us safer but a Paris or Brussels-style attacks remains a peril.

  9. Welfare and poverty
    The New York Times produces an excellent 13-minute look at the 20th anniversary of President Clinton signing historic welfare reform legislation. What should we say after all these many years? Yes, it got tons of people back to work. But some states have truly shafted the most poor among us and increased ranks of the destitute. Those who offer their takes include Peter Edelman, who was a top Clinton administration official who quit over the Clinton move at the time. (The New York Times)

  10. Indiana or bust
    It was all very much the same on the news channels this morning. For Ted Cruz, it’s “Indiana or toast,” bannered Fox, which miraculously found lots of Trump backers at an Indianapolis deli in a seemingly literal search for toast. CNN was in a petty empty polling place (no surprise, in Vigo County, which has a track record for picking presidents). Jackie Kucinich of The Daily Beast said a Cruz loss means, “He will have less of a case to be made that he can eventually be the nominee.” Pretty obvious. MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” was chewing the fat back in Manhattan and aired a rather feisty back and forth between Cruz and Trump supporters. “A question everybody should ask,” Cruz began saying at one point before being interrupted by a protester’s well-timed, “Are you Canadian?”

  11. Filling a gap
    Richard Conniff, a great writer-journalist who specializes in animal behavior (including that of us two-legged animals), suggests to me that there’s a new outlet for natural history that helps fill a yawning gap created by museums’ inability to explain the great work they do. Welcome Biographic via the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, which is “taking the initiative to create an online magazine about the natural world,” according to Conniff, whose latest book is “House of Lost Worlds: Dinosaurs, Dynasties, and the Story of Life on Earth.”

    He says the magazine “isn’t the silly stuff that a lot of SEO-driven websites do (for instance, ‘Why Do Dogs Lick Glass?‘). It’s about ecosystems and about how animals really live in the wild. Just to pick one item at random: Who would have thought that a wolf pack on the Pacific Coast would live by following the tides to feed on freshly laid herring eggs?” I hereby concede I would have not. (Biographic)

  12. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
    Lila King is now lead of news and partnerships for Instagram. Previously, she founded CNN’s iReport. (Email) | Job of the day: POLITICO is looking for a Congress reporter. Get your resumes in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves:

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New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S.…
James Warren

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