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For the 15,000 credentialed media at the Democratic National Convention, the inherent perils are clear:
-Indecision over where to mooch free food and booze.
-Briefly losing your Wi-Fi.
-Getting soaked while dashing between air-conditioned work tents and the arena.
-Oversleeping a Delaware delegation breakfast.
-Finding a post-convention party ride home at 2 a.m.
But at least you’re allowed to go home.
As The New York Times noted Monday, Turkey has instituted a crackdown on journalists in the wake of a foiled military coup earlier this month, issuing arrest warrants by the dozens.
It seemed timely to track down Joel Simon, who runs the Committee to Protect Journalists, shortly before last night’s convention session. He put it simply: “This is the most deadly and dangerous time for media we have documented. There are more journalists in prison and who have been killed than anytime in history.”
Yes, there have been challenges to U.S. journalists of late, notably on the Trump campaign. But that’s pretty small potatoes compared to what’s going on elsewhere. “In this country,” Simon says, “trouble means you get dumped on by a politician or others and suffer a bit of public criticism. In Turkey, it means you get hauled off to jail, and in Russia it means you get killed.”
In recent years, Turkey led the pack in jailing journalists. What’s playing out there now is unprecedented even by its standards, with most dissent equated with “terrorism.” Monday’s total of detained journalists appears to be 42. (Reuters)
Simon and a contingent met with President Tayyip Erdogan in 2014. He says Erdogan made clear he tolerated criticism but not “insults.” How did he know the difference between the two? “‘I decide,’ he said.”
Erdogan obviously knows that, in the long run, economic growth depends on pluralism and direct foreign investment. “But the gloves are off now and he’s acting in accordance with his mostly deeply held views.”
The Verizon-Yahoo deal
AOL boss Tim Armstrong talked to Recode’s Kara Swisher about the deal that he’ll oversee. But she couldn’t help to insert this line: “The longtime internet exec talked to Recode — yes, professional adults linked to Yahoo have finally lifted the idiotic banishment of our site — about why he pushed hard for Verizon to buy Yahoo and also about what comes next in a process that is expected to take six months to nine months to close.” (Recode)
Speaking of Yahoo
CEO Marissa Mayer’s fumbling is a major reason Yahoo wound up in play and now likely in the hands of Verizon if its purchase meets regulatory muster. Like legions of bumbling mostly White male executives before her, she’ll make off quite well if she chooses to leave.
Mayer has received $139.6 million for her four years of labor at Yahoo, which saw a revolving door of executives come and go. Her estimated golden parachute is $54.9 million if she exits, which at the moment she claims she’s not planning on. If you factor in the current value of stock options she’s been awarded, her total haul so far is $162 million. It’s presumably a measure of cultural advancement that failure by women can be rewarded as equally as that of men. (USA Today)
When you’re hot
FanRag Sports, a pretty new network of sports sites, broke a great story Saturday about a Chicago White Sox star pitcher going nuts and intentionally ruining the “retro” uniforms the team was going to wear that night. He was suspended for five games. On Monday, it beat the pack on a huge trade between the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs involving a relief pitcher who throws a ball 105 miles per hour. (Today’s knuckleball)
Al Franken, comic, returns
If you missed it, here’s how Sen. Al Franken introduced himself at the DNC Monday night: “I’m Al Franken, Minnesotan, senator and world renowned expert on right-wing megalomaniacs: Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and now, Donald Trump.” He said he was “a proud alum of Trump U,” where tuition is “10 percent higher” for students. Later on MSNBC, Franken, who’s largely dispensed (publicly, at least) with his comedic past, made clear that his marching orders for the night were to be funny.
No Joy in Leaksville
“WikiLeaks on Monday issued a warning to MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid after she teased a segment on her program about an ‘affinity’ between the website, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and Russia.” (The Hill) She’d tweeted out, “Tomorrow on #AMJoy we’ll explore the unprecedented affinity between an American presidential candidate — Trump — Russia and Wilileaks.” (sic). WikiLeaks fired back, ”@JoyAnnReid You are pushing a discredited conspiracy theory. There is no affinity, whatsoever. Our lawyers will monitor your program.” She responded, “Noted.”
Live sports deal on Twitter
Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Chicago Bulls and White Sox, two years ago partnered his Silver Chalice digital startup with Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the Professional Golfers Association, Nascar, Time and Sports Illustrated. It was aimed at cord-cutters who prefer web-based platforms for their sports.
Now, after laying off 20 people due to a business downturn, it’s going into business with Twitter to air a two-hour live sports highlight program, “The Rally.” It will be “the first daily sports highlight program to air on Twitter, featuring analysis and Twitter data to determine live sports trending topics.” (Crain’s). It will originate from Oprah Winfrey’s old studio headquarters.
Small union victory
The Writers Guild of America, East bargained a first contract for the 30 editorial employees at ThinkProgress, which was unanimously ratified Monday. The employer is the Center for American Progress. Salary hikes of between 9 percent and 20 percent will arrive in the first year, the union said. The guaranteed minimum pay will be $45,000 for reporters and editors.
What the media made of last night’s convention session
Bernie Sanders offered “a forceful plea for his supporters to get behind the party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton.” (The Washington Post) Alas, that “drew scattered boos, and his valedictory tone left some supporters in tears rather than rallying around the Democratic nominee.” (The New York Times) “By the time he left, he did not seem to have succeeded in convincing his most ardent supporters to stand with Hillary Clinton.” (The Atlantic)
Oh, then there was this disclosure totally missed by the same mainstream media that Sanders himself bashed during the speech as too immersed in tactics, polls and fundraising: “As Vermont senator Bernie Sanders spoke to the crowd about the need for party unity Monday during the first night of the Democratic National Convention, sources reported that the voice coming from the Wells Fargo Center sound system during his address clearly belonged to Hillary Clinton.” (The Onion)
Aniston’s rage turns to tears
Jennifer Aniston recently vented at journalists’ deceit in a Huffington Post op-ed, notably with B.S. tabloid stories about her being pregnant. But no question from a member of the press has seemingly struck a chord akin to one asked her by a young girl at an Italian film festival for youth. The question? “Have you ever awakened and wondered who the heck you are?”
She proceeded to get weepy. “I mean, my gosh, we’re all human beings at the end of the day, whether we’re a waitress or a baker or a student or whatever we are, at the end of the day you kind of hit walls and think you can’t go any farther and think this is too much, my heart can’t take it or the pain is too great.” (The Hollywood Reporter)
As I write, she’s overcoming things, if not miraculously, via a gauzy cable ad for Aveeno skin relief products.
The morning line
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” tagged it one of the more memorable convention moments ever, namely comic Sarah Silverman vamping (singer Paul Simon was not ready to get on stage) and chiding Bernie Sanders supporters as “ridiculous” for not moving into the Clinton fold. As for Michelle Obama, the consensus there was that hers was one of the better convention speeches ever, as Mark Halperin put it.
Over at “Fox & Friends,” such adulation was not readily apparent. The Sanders-Clinton divisions were portrayed as Grand Canyon-level, with Brian Kilmeade then conceding that Silverman is funny but “she’s ultra leftie.” As for Sanders, Tucker Carlson called him a sellout. “He turned out not to be a revolutionary but an obedient little party guy who’s done what he’s told. I think he betrayed the ideals of those who supported him.” The Fox gang even derided Michelle Obama as hypocritical, hauling out 2008 tape of her saying “for the first time in my life I am proud of my country.”
Over at CNN’s “New Day,” David Gregory put the Democrats’ challenge thus: “Hillary Clinton has to become more likable.” Never-shy co-host Cuomo quickly demurred. “I don’t know if likable is going to get it done. The note they have to bang this week for Clinton is ‘you have to be able to do this job.'”
O’Reilly’s summary of the GOP convention
One of Fox’s well-chosen liberal pinatas was on Bill O’Reilly’s show last night and mentioned the tumult at the opening of the Republican Convention in Cleveland last week. Responded the host: “I was there. I didn’t see any discord. I just saw a bunch of White people having a good time. That’s all I saw.” He’s got that right. There were a lot of White people having fun.