Good morning. Here’s our morning roundup of all the media news you need to know. Want to get this briefing in your inbox every morning? Subscribe here.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who’s the new Webster’s definition of “tone-deaf,” had a pretty bad holiday weekend at the beach. He can thank the (Newark, New Jersey) Star-Ledger for that, which rented a plane to catch him enjoying a closed beach with his family amid a statewide shutdown.
But Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wasn’t that far behind.
Emanuel can now attest to the power of The New York Times’ op-ed page, even in an era where the abundance of media platforms means that any one newspaper’s clout is diminished. Well, that and the influence of a New York tabloid on a slow news day.
“Dumb Track Mind” was the Daily News headline with an unflattering photo of the former White House chief of staff, who long ago was labeled “Rahmbo” for his take-no-prisoners modus operandi.
That headline followed a Times op-ed in which the mayor essentially gloated over the mass transit ills of both New York City and Washington, D.C. while boasting of his own system’s supposedly high approval rate and improvements.
The headline on the Times op-ed was “Rahm Emanuel: In Chicago, the trains actually run on time.” That recalled (for some) an old (and untrue) claim about trains at least running on time during the dictatorship of Italy’s Benito Mussolini.
Emanuel’s opus opened, “On Thursday, in the wake of a subway derailment and an epidemic of train delays, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York declared a state of emergency for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the busiest mass transit system in America. That same day, the nation’s third-busiest system — the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority — handed out coupons for free coffee to riders stuck in the second year of slowdowns caused by repairs to prevent chronic fires.”
“Meanwhile, in Chicago, a recent survey found that 85 percent of passengers are satisfied with service on our transit system, the nation’s second-most used.”
The Daily News responded, “Congratulations to Chicago for having a transit system that’s so popular with its passengers. Now try getting them home without anyone getting shot.”
That was a not very veiled reference to the city’s awful homicide rate (which actually trails that of a bunch of cities, despite the national attention it gets). But it was a response one might well have predicted if Emanuel had run his copy by a public relations adviser (a task he essentially assumes himself given a somewhat wayward self-image as adroit media masseur).
Emanuel has had a rough several years after a near-death election experience in being taken to a re-election runoff by a rank mediocrity. He’s sought several national platforms of late, including a National Press Club speech touting progress in the city’s public school system, as if the grass will be greener outside the boundaries of his challenged city.
And now he’s sought the imprimatur of the most famous paper’s op-ed page. It worked, at least for a day or so. But it could have been much worse.
He could have been photographed sunning his svelte body (far better shape than Christie) on a state beach he’d closed to the public.
The morning babble
“Trump & Friends” was back in full post-holiday boosterish mode, bashing the evil mainstream media for suggesting President Trump might be pandering in comments about a British child with the rare illness. In particular, it went after MSNBC via Fox-friendly Christopher Bedford of the Daily Caller.
Oh, it didn’t leave its ire merely for MSNBC, going after CNN and accusation of “blackmail” after “outing the Reddit user who allegedly created an anti-CNN video championed by President Donald J. Trump. That video shows Trump participating in a professional wrestling match in which he body-slams Vince McMahon, chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment.” (Newsweek)
This followed a CNN report by Andrew Kaczynski on how the network tracked down that user.
The local impact of Trump’s media bashing
The press bashing by President Trump and allies impacts more than their reputation of that evil “mainstream” media including The Times, Washington Post and CNN. It hurts local media, too, as I found in calling around to papers such as the weekly Charlevoix, Michigan Courier and Sioux City, Iowa Journal. (Poynter)
Trump & Nixon
“Nixon’s flunkies, like Trump’s, wielded intimidation along with bluster against the press. The White House tried to challenge the licenses of Florida television stations owned by the Washington Post and was successful in browbeating William Paley, the head of CBS, to truncate a Walter Cronkite special report on Watergate. At the same time that the Nixon administration was trying to hobble what was then derided by conservatives as “the eastern media conspiracy,” it basked in the alternative facts spread by the Limbaughs, Drudges, and Breitbarts of its day — right-wing radio stars like Clarence Manion and Paul Harvey and their print adjuncts.” (New York)
Private equity spurned
“Australia’s Fairfax Media said it had ceased discussions with two U.S private equity suitors, ending investor hopes of a protracted battle for Australia’s oldest newspaper publisher.” (CNBC)
Fairfax got bids in the area of $2.2 billion from TPG Capital Management LP and Hellman & Friedman but then ended discussions.
It’s not just ESPN that’s a problem for Disney
“Disney’s Channels: Kids Are Tuning Out: Ratings have fallen sharply at the company’s youth-oriented networks amid the shift to digital viewing and a lack of hits.” (The Wall Street Journal)
Sexual harassment in Hollywood and Silicon Valley
Fox Sports boss Jamie Horowitz was canned amid sexual harassment claims, prompting venture capital executive Allison Baum to opine:
“Our current media and professional environment is fueling this distraction by only paying attention to drama. The only time we even try to talk about that reality is after years of evidence builds up against a single perpetrator, when someone is a presidential candidate or when someone takes their employer to court. Then, there’s a public outcry. We call for more women to come forward, forcing them to risk their careers and their reputations in order to raise ‘awareness.’”
“We dumb down the conversation, dress up the issues in sexy headlines and put it all on parade. When this charade solves nothing, we find ourselves in the same old pattern of sugarcoating the bitter truth as we drown the real stuff in politically-correct hashtags, bullshit apologies and ‘Diversity Funds.’” (Recode)
Meanwhile, Quartz notes, “Dave McClure. Justin Caldbeck. Matt Mazzeo. Jonathan Teo. Amit Singhal. Ed Baker. Emil Michael. Travis Kalanick. This is a short list of men who have lost their jobs in technology this year for either a direct or peripheral role in alleged sexual misconduct.”
If you live in a glass house…
“Shortly before President Donald Trump issued an infamous tweet with a video in which he physically pummeled a wrestler with a CNN logo on his head, “Fox & Friends” thought it would be funny to hold a contest in which viewers get to come up with disparaging nicknames for the network.” (Salon) What creative brilliance.
Nigeria’s tech friends
“Nigeria is hiring U.S. technology giants such as Oracle Corp. and Microsoft Corp. as the government invests more to save costs and fight corruption.” (Bloomberg)
“An initiative led by Redwood, California-based Oracle has enabled Nigerian authorities to remove 50,000 so-called ghost workers, or fake entries, from the payroll, according to a presidency statement June 29.”
Lord of the Rings dispute settled
“After a grueling five-year court battle, Warner Bros. and the estate of author J.R.R. Tolkien have settled an $80 million rights dispute over The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings.” (Deadline)
Headline of day
“Bizarre. Absurd. Ridiculous. Embarrassing. Trump.”
That went with a Kathleen Parker column in The Washington Post.
Liars and losers
The Horton Bay, Michigan, July 4th parade sometimes pays homage to Ernest Hemingway with fun takeoffs on some of his book titles. He spent lots of time in the area. But Tuesday the most notable float may have been the one heralding Liars and Losers, with big images of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. (Petoskey News-Review)
Ah, yes, the spirit of bipartisan independence!