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.
Will he or won’t he? It’s actually a serious question journalists need to ask.
The president’s many sources of outrage include “the FAKE MSM” that urges him to cease and desist with social media — especially when the FBI chief he fired testifies Thursday.
Did you by any chance hear that James Comey is testifying Thursday? Or did you just return from climbing Mount Everest?
While The Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg encourages him to back off — “the cost in global upheaval isn’t a price worth paying for a candid look inside Trump’s brain” — she does suggest that a man vaulted to prominence by the plastic virtues of the entertainment world learn a lesson about Twitter from Hollywood producer Shonda Rhimes.
“If Trump tweeted himself to the presidency, Rhimes has used Twitter to build a bona fide television empire of the sort Trump could only dream of for ‘The Apprentice.'”
Tweeting helped “Scandal” get renewed for a second season when it looked to be in trouble. Improbably that is now a reality broached in discussing the American presidency. Rhimes and the cast tweeted during the airing of episodes and helped create a bond with viewers.
“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder” were all assisted by a similar modus operandi. But does Trump really want to draw more attention to Comey’s possibly less than cataclysmic testimony?
In normal circumstances, the answer would be obvious. Now, another answer is virtually assured. The self-immolating Trump probably can’t help himself. It prompts Rosenberg to suggest that he emulate Rhimes, by calmly explaining his own intentions and feelings in the meetings Comey will detail.
If he thinks there are facts or context that Comey doesn’t bring up, he should explain them. Of course, this may be wishful thinking on a par with assuming the North Korean leader will subscribe to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
It really is obtuse to engage Comey, pop culture writer Rosenberg believes, but if he can’t help himself, “he should at least learn how to promote the Trump Show from the best in the business.”
The odds are long. Prepare to watch Comey — and counterattacking tweets scrolling across the bottom of your screen or mobile device. (And, for sure, expect some from New York Times ace reporter Maggie Haberman, who’s said to average 140 tweets a day, according to a Columbia Journalism Review analysis).
And, then, at night, to view Anderson Cooper’s increasingly understandably Trump-inspired stoic visage with its distinct hint of well-grounded perplexity and oncoming dyspepsia over the latest actions (or tweets) from “the leader of the free world.”
Cuts at Yahoo, AOL
“According to sources, layoffs are expected to take place across AOL and Yahoo that could number up to 1,000 jobs. That is less than 20 percent of the combined company, according to sources.” (Recode)
Folks assumed such a downsizing with a deal set to close in the next week.
Body slam, now a check
“The Montana Republican charged with assaulting Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs has apologized and promised to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists.” (Washington Examiner)
Perhaps a variety of nonprofits could save the rising cost of direct mail solicitations and simply have their supporters assaulted.
Shareholder democracy at Alphabet
Writes Forbes: “Google parent Alphabet’s annual meetings are a very civilized affair, with executive chairman Eric Schmidt playing host after a light lunch, sharing a vision of the better world the company is creating, followed by polite questions and proposals from shareholders.”
“Those shareholder proposals, however, are largely window dressing. Because as everyone at the meeting knows, there are only two shareholders who really matter at an Alphabet meeting, and their names are Larry Page and Sergey Brin.”
Among the shareholder proposals voted down was doing a study, whose cost is estimated at $100,000, to discern the pay gap between men and women at the company. The company’s profit last year was around $28 billion.
Summer deceit in Sioux Falls
The Argus Leader in South Dakota ran a brief note indicating that a total of 11 stories done last year by a summer intern have been retracted. (Poynter) They include a story about a tree planting that made up quotes attributed to an elementary school principal.
From the craft beer beat
It’s nearly Trumpian in its regularity: “Another day, another sigh-inducing trademark dispute in the craft beer industry. The beer industry has a massive problem on its hands in the form of a deluge of trademark disputes between competitors. This has largely been the result of a huge uptick in craft brewers opening new businesses saddled alongside the tradition of creatively naming different beers and the limitations of the English language.” (TechDirt)
The latest involves Shipyard Brewing Co. suing Logboat Brewing Company over similar images of a schooner on the label and for using the word “head” in its Shiphead beer.
Hyperbolic headline of day
“James Comey just went nuclear on Donald Trump.” (CNN)
Reported CNN’s Chris Cillizza, “James Comey’s written testimony regarding his interactions with President Donald Trump regarding the Russia investigation blows a massive hole in the story the president has been telling about the duo’s interactions.”
Huh? Many other versions of the same testimony were more measured, with the CNN report possessing its own massive hole, namely any mention of whether Comey confirmed the truth of Trump saying he had thrice told him he wasn’t under investigation.
By comparison, there were those bloodless souls on Wall Street who experienced massive relief: “U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday despite a sharp decline in energy shares after written testimony from former FBI director James Comey did not add major revelations about an investigation into Russian meddling with last year’s U.S. presidential election.” (Reuters)
Comey ally hones defense
An interesting, if defensive take came from journalist-legal scholar Ben Wittes of the Brookings Institution and co-founder of the Lawfare blog. A Comey friend, he’d argued that it was inconceivable Comey told Trump he wasn’t under investigation. Wednesday he wrote:
“Put simply, this emphatically does not amount to Trump’s blanket statement that he was assured multiple times that he was not under investigation.”
But, as ABC News noted, “During the interactions, Comey assured Trump three times that he was not ‘personally’ the subject of a counter-intelligence investigation, a fact that Trump allegedly requested he “get out,” according to those prepared marks that for some blew that “massive hole.”
Lawfare co-founder, Harvard’s Jack Goldsmith, takes to the same site to deem his colleague “nit-picky to the point of wrong.” (Lawfare)
Oliver Stone on Megyn Kelly
Self-styled press observer Oliver Stone says, “he watched Megyn Kelly interview the Russian president on NBC and concluded that ‘he knew his stuff and she didn’t.'” (Bloomberg)
Stone got his own series of Showtime interviews with Putin that surface next week and says, “I think she was attractive and she asked hardball questions, but she wasn’t in a position to debate or counter him because she didn’t know a lot of things.”
In case you crave help…
Planning to call in sick so you can watch the Comey testimony?
Here’s a “viewer’s guide” from The Wall Street Journal.
Or a “viewer’s guide” from ABC News.
Or “your guide” to the testimony from The New York Times.
Free expression in the Middle East
“The United Arab Emirates has banned people from publishing expressions of sympathy towards Qatar and will punish offenders with a jail term of up to 15 years, the UAE-based newspaper Gulf News and pan-Arab channel Al-Arabiya reported.” (Al Jazeera)
YouTube’s own tabloid industry
“As YouTubers have drawn massive audiences by documenting their lives online, a second tier of YouTube has naturally emerged: the YouTube tabloid.”
“For years, intra-YouTube drama has been documented exhaustively and almost exclusively on YouTube itself. There’s little crossover into the real world. YouTube’s gossip ecosystem exists like a world parallel to our own — a little spinning globe of YouTube celebrities, YouTube rumors, and the people who watch.” (The Verge)
Writer Brittany Stalsburg recounts, “When I submitted an opinion piece to an editor at a small local newspaper in Connecticut, I didn’t expect payment. After the editor accepted my piece and said nothing about money, I inquired if the newspaper pays for op-eds. I asked this out of principle — because I believe that people should be compensated for labor, and because I believe women, in particular, should ask for what they’re worth.”
“The editor wrote back saying that they do not pay writers. ‘Frankly,’ he added, ‘because of the mention of money, I will not run it now. Thanks for your interest.’” (Quartz)
The morning babble
“Fox & Friends” opened with talk of, hmmm, let’s see, the NBA finals? No. Comey. And more Comey. And at least kudos to co-host Brian Kilmeade for bucking the de facto company line on yesterday’s intelligence chiefs’ testimony, especially in not answering whether they were pressured and pulled aside by Trump. “They did not answer the question,” he said, and critically so.
CNN’s “New Day” surfaced an hour early, lest we not have enough of a warm-up to the hearing. David Gregory finds Trump’s dealings with Comey “unbecoming” and suggested that Comey should have told Trump at dinner that he was being “inappropriate,” with co-host Chris Cuomo being rather censorious again about Comey’s publicly known actions (“acquiescence,” he termed it) in dealing with Trump.
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” which was a march of White males (pundits and guests), called Trump “stupid,” a “narcissist,” “mentally ill” and “ignorant.” Mika Brzezinski said, to Republicans, if they didn’t see a pattern of errant behavior, “they have very thick heads.”
LeBron’s media empire
LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers are up against it, now down 3-0 in the NBA finals after the Golden State Warriors nipped them last night. But there’s some vague off-the-court solace for The King.
“LeBron James’s media empire is out front (even if his team isn’t) — his uninterrupted network is challenging an increasingly fragmented sports media landscape.” (The Wall Street Journal) It includes this text missive, so fittingly cerebral for our social media age, from Warriors forward Draymond Green to Cavaliers rival Richard Jefferson:
“I’m going to f—ing kill your podcast!!!!”
It’s positively Trumpian in its rhetorical nuance.