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.
USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan threw a softball to the lords of golf assembled at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey for the U.S. Women’s Open.
“Does the USGA have a position on sexual assault?”
She wasn’t asking Sarah Huckabee Sanders why her boss had lied in three tweets that morning. Or the head of Wells Fargo about its history of screwing consumers. Or Lance Armstrong about whether the ongoing Tour de France is less interesting to watch when the cyclists aren’t all cheating.
So Brennan sat in front of two men and two women at the opening press conference and figured somebody would move toward a microphone and declare, “Yes, it’s awful, unacceptable and illegal.” Or words to that effect.
“But when you’re in business with Donald Trump, the man who appeared on the infamous Access Hollywood videotape bragging that he could sexually assault women without having to worry about the ramifications, your values start to fade,” she wrote.
“Your principles waver,” she added. A history of trying to attract girls and women to a long-discriminatory sport runs “head-long into your need to prostrate yourself at Trump’s feet.”
So she watched as three of the leaders of golf in America “sat dumbfounded, unable to utter even one word against sexual assault, while the fourth, a spokeswoman, said the foursome was there to talk about ‘the golf competition,’ but would be happy to discuss the ‘important question…afterwards.’”
As Brennan recalled it last night, “To ask these kind of questions this week of all weeks is Journalism 101. It was surprising to me that the USGA and its officials were so unprepared to answer them.”
Three hours after that press conference, Brennan was mailed a statement about the group’s “longstanding policy on harassment.” But they’d blown it at a seemingly convenient public forum (at which its executive director, who’s chickened out of answering questions about Trump groping women, was a no-show).
Golf is in demographic trouble, with a younger generation finding it boring and equipment sales heading south. It needs to try luring young women. But a simple question from one reporter suggests its leadership needs to first grow a spine.
“Trump & Friends” even conceded “Russian Investigation Overshadows Paris Trip” while CNN’s “New Day” speculated on what questions he might get asked about his son’s mess at a four-question Paris press conference with the French president later today.
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” beckoned The Wall Street Journal’s Shane Harris, a national security maven, to discuss his story that declares, “Investigators are re-examining conversations detected by U.S. intelligence agencies in spring 2015 that captured Russian government officials discussing associates of Donald Trump, according to current and former U.S. officials, a move prompted by revelations that the president’s eldest son met with a Russian lawyer last year.”
And, just to remind that The New York Times and The Washington Post aren’t breaking all these stories, the show gave ample play to this disclosure by McClatchy’s Peter Stone and Greg Gordon: “Investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation – overseen by Jared Kushner – helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.”
Snap squeezed by short sellers
Analysts aren’t buying Snap’s story. “It took less than four months for Morgan Stanley, the lead underwriter on the Snap initial public offering, to change its mind about the owner of Snapchat.” (Financial Times)
It says it was wrong about Snap’s ability to innovate. It thinks Instagram will cream it. At a big media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, media mogul Barry Diller told CNBC he’s a Snap fan. But there are a lot of nervous analysts as the stock’s price has dropped nearly 40 percent since its first day of trading.
The Chicago Sun-Times results from the 1948 merger of the Chicago Sun and the Chicago Daily Times. It’s been an editorially solid rival to the Chicago Tribune but on an economic downward spiral since a 1984 sale to Rupert Murdoch and a string of owners after him, including the subsequently imprisoned news baron Sir Conrad Black.
Now, after the Justice Department antitrust division debatably said no way to a deal with the Tribune, it’s been sold to a group of unions and local investors, including former liberal Democratic politician Edwin Eisendrath. Nobody has any media experience of any substance.
The current owners were frustrated by the Justice position, especially given media fragmentation and the fact the Tribune already prints and distributes the paper. But they concluded taking $1 was better than the $8 million it would cost to shut down the paper, especially if Justice might just force them into court if the paper persisted with the originally announced Sun-Times-Tribune deal.
The government even forced the Sun-Times to run an ad seeking more bidders after that tentative deal was announced. That led to creation of the ultimately winning group, which then heeded a Justice requirement to raise $11.2 million, or essentially the projected losses for the next two and a half years.
How much they can or will invest beyond that is unclear, though one investor, well-regarded defense attorney Len Goodman, is a member of the wealthy Crown family. The No. 2 paper in town needs significant sums to upgrade editorial and business-side personnel, technology, sales, marketing, you name it.
And strategic vision is also as yet publicly unclear, other than professions to make the paper more “worker-friendly.” (Poynter)
This would be a Herculean task even for folks willing to invest substantially and with lots of media experience. Here you have a group with generally limited resources, no media experience and of overtly ideological bent, namely several very activist Democrats (once with close ties to convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich). On the face, it’s not a recipe for great and fair-minded journalism.
Bloomberg’s Billionaire’s Index last night had Bill Gates leading the pack at $90.2 billion but Jeff Bezos within striking distance, No. 2 at $86.2 billion.
CNN’s long (very long) interviews
The interviews have wound up as long as you’ll get on C-Span, if shorter than PBS’ “NewsHour,” but rather more combative than either. But CNN has had a recent run of unpredictably long morning sessions with Kellyanne Conway, anti-terrorism hardliner Sebastian Gorka and Trump attorney Jay Sekulow.
Two have been handled by “New Day” co-host Chris Cuomo, who does not lack self confidence and can get rather censorious and prosecutorial. But they have their perfect-for-TV moments as the Donald Trump Jr. disclosures of The New York Times dominate the news, even if they inspire a certain underlying “Gotcha!!” air among some in the press, especially cable news hosts yearning to exhibit their inner U.S. Attorney.
Not to be outdone by morning colleagues, Anderson Cooper last night went at it with Gorka for a long time, with lots of mutual sniping and Gorka even unabashedly citing Donald Trump Jr. as a model of transparency. Alternative realities are clashing.
Tweet of day
Kid Rock is mulling a Senate run from Michigan, prompting journalist Ben Jacobs (you know, the guy pummeled by the Montana Republican candidate) to note:
“If elected, Kid Rock would be the first U.S. senator to appear in a sex tape with the lead singer of Creed” (@Bencjacobs)
New Pulitzer administrator
“I just wanted to do really good work, groundbreaking journalism that makes a difference,” says Dana Canedy, who was part of a team that won a Pulitzer for The New York Times in 2001, and was announced as the new Pulitzer administrator.
“Canedy is the first woman, the first person of color and the youngest to serve in the role of Pulitzer administrator.” (Poynter)
Newsday’s review of a suspected fabricator
Newsday disclosed the results of an investigation of the work of Kevin Deutsch, who covered law enforcement for the Long Island paper from April 2012 to September 2016. It followed after question arose about the truthfulness both of a book he wrote on the Baltimore drug trade, “Pill City,” and some Newsday stories. St. Martin’s Press stands by the book.
The paper concludes there are “77 stories with 109 individuals from Deutsch’s reporting whom Newsday could not locate. The main points of the stories were not affected…Newsday is attaching an editor’s note to each story online that contains individuals we cannot locate.” Here are its findings and methodology.
Fox News Quiz
In a discussion about the president’s tweet that the Russia investigation is “the greatest witch hunt in political history,” a Fox co-host said, “Fox News can confirm it’s not.”
And when a guest mentioned that the president was recently seen watching a DVR copy of that morning’s “Fox & Friends” in the middle of the afternoon, the same host declared, “We like the ratings but c’mon.”
Was it A) Tucker Carlson B) Shepard Smith C) Sean Hannity D) Bret Baier D) Bill Hemmer E) Ainsley Earhardt F) Jeanine Pirro or G) Neil Cavuto?
Bzzzzzzzz, time’s up.
Shepard Smith. Good for him.
The Zuckerberg meet-real-people tour
“Mark Zuckerberg Hits the Road to Meet Regular Folks – With a Few Conditions – As he tours America, Facebook CEO appears at homes and businesses with little notice, asks not to be quoted; not always recognized.” (The Wall Street Journal)
Facebook’s display ads
“Messaging is the center of mobile, and Facebook wants ads in front of all those eyes. After seeing ‘promising results from Australia and Thailand,’ Facebook Messenger is expanding its display ad beta test that lets businesses buy space between your chat threads. Later this month, a small percentage of users will start seeing ads in the Messenger app’s home tab.” (TechCrunch)
Alas, much-followed Hong Kong-based tech analyst Ben Thompson finds it “a discouraging sign for both the short and long term.” (Stratechery)
Apple makes a billionaire
“The chairman of the world’s largest contract chipmaker has become a billionaire thanks to expected demand for Apple Inc.’s new iPhone. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) shares have surged 27 percent in the past year, lifting founder and Chairman Morris Chang’s personal fortune to $1 billion.” (Bloomberg)
NOTE: Kevin Deutsch takes issue with the use of the word “fabricator” and says he stands by his reporting. He has written this response to the Newsday evaluation of the veracity of his work. We’ve added the word “suspected” before fabricator in that item since no publications reviewing his work have outright said he fabricated sources.