July 7, 2017

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If President Trump craves both “fake news” to excoriate and long, beautiful weekends away from “the swamp” of Washington, he must go immediately to bucolic Maine. Forget steamy Mar-a-Lago and the tacky members of its over-tanned propertied class. There he’ll find Trump partisan Paul LePage, the Republican governor who is fighting a losing battle with the truth.

As the Bangor Daily News, and other state media, reported, he’s been caught in a whopper. First, he left a bogus voicemail with a key legislator telling the guy that he was leaving town despite critical talks to end a government shutdown.

Then he went on the radio Thursday, lied about the whole shebang and called the print press “stupid,” “vile” and “inaccurate” for reporting the rumor that he was leaving amid the legislative drama. “The sooner the print press goes away, the better society will be,” he said on the radio.

Well, he was doing just fine until the Daily News used a public records inquiry to confirm that, yes, indeed, “the rumor came from him in a 20-second message to Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, a member of the special committee trying to close the budget impasse.”

“I’m heading out-of-town for about 10 days and I’d like to speak with you before I leave. So could you give me a call, please?”

Confronted by the tape, he now says that, yes, he made the call but just because he wanted his call returned. So he made up the story. And when the press reported the possibility that he was skipping town amid a legislative impasse, he pulled a Trump gambit by lying about it.

“This is just the latest installment from the LePage administration playbook: If you’re caught lying, blame the watchdog,” Cliff Schechtman, executive editor of the Portland Press Herald, told me.

“Sound familiar? What’s stunning here is that he believes society would be better off without a free press. History tells a very different and dangerous story.”

Trump’s sunrise tweets from Hamburg

“I will represent our country well and fight for its interests! Fake News Media will never cover me accurately but what cares! We will #MAGA.” (@realDonaldTrump)

Verging on the weird, and a window onto his many convoluted obsessions, was this: “Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!” (@realDonaldTrump)

Huh? Say what? On “Morning Joe,” Joe Scarborough said, with a high likelihood of truth, “I would daresay no one there is talking about that except whomever Donald Trump is talking to inside his brain.”

Did she or didn’t she?

“SEE IT: First Lady of Poland appears to snub President Trump’s attempted handshake in Warsaw.” (New York Daily News)

“Another awkward handshake overseas: President Trump left hanging as Polish first lady greets Melania.” (USA Today)

“Watch Poland’s First Lady pass by President Trump’s first attempt at a handshake.” (Time)

Yes, she eventually did shake his hand.

Buyouts, layoffs, etc., etc.

The New York Times got some press as it began informing staffers, notably copy editors, of their spots being eliminated as part of a buyout plan. (Poynter)

But, ultimately, the newsroom size will stay roughly the same, unlike realities elsewhere, such as SoundCloud: It’s axing “about 40 percent of its staff in a cost-cutting move the digital music service says will give it a better financial footing to compete against larger rivals Spotify Ltd. and Apple Inc.” That’s 173 positions going poof. (Bloomberg)

The post-Pelley search

You can’t accuse CBS News of ageism as it takes time to find a replacement for Scott Pelley on its evening broadcast. Last night there was James Brown, better known as a sportscaster, and tonight comes Jane Pauley, both 66.

Brown has done it before, is a real studio pro, comes off as both critical and fair and was just fine. And bet that it will be likewise with Pauley. One can imagine the ultimate decision to perhaps to go younger — in the long-shot hope of somehow getting a few viewers not on Medicare — but it’s nice to see that experience has its place.

Dish & Amazon a coosome twosome?

“For years…Dish Chief Executive Charlie Ergen has sought out deals and partnerships with just about every major telecom company, from Sprint Corp. to T-Mobile US Inc. to AT&T Inc. — so far, to no avail.”

“Now, the satellite-television mogul is turning his attention to the technology world and a new—and somewhat surprising—potential partner has emerged: Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos.” (The Wall Street Journal)

Fallows on Trump’s speech — and one he wrote in 1977

The estimable James Fallows of The Atlantic was a young Jimmy Carter speechwriter who dealt with lots of White House divisions in crafting a speech Carter made 40 years ago in, yes, Warsaw.

Policy differences aside, Carter aides “agreed that the tone in Poland, and throughout, should emphasize the ideas and the political values that the United States hoped would extend around the world. For example: Any president, going anywhere, will find a way to talk about historic, cultural and ethnic connections with whatever place he finds himself in.”

Yesterday? “Our current president began his trip to Europe with a speech in Poland that minimized the role of ideals in American identity, and maximized the importance of what he called ‘civilization’ but which boils down to ties of ethnicity and blood.” (The Atlantic)

Trump in Warsaw

The president not only attacked CNN at a Warsaw press conference with his Polish counterpart but made some typical immature if revealing comment about how much money he’d made NBC via “The Apprentice.”

Conservatives were aghast that liberal were aghast at the shot at CNN. (Daily Caller) CNN’s Jim Acosta cited the event as an example of Trump’s own version of fake news, then disputed his assertion that at most four intelligence agencies concludes the Russians sought to interfere in the 2016 campaign.

That remains a topic of dispute, with several organizations, including The New York Times, running corrections after initially asserting that it’s 17 agencies.

Acosta, who is on the presidential trek, later emailed, “I simply questioned why the president shot that down during the news conference and said it was really three or four. At a Senate intel hearing on May 11, six different intel heads said it was their conclusion that Russia was interfering.”

“I’m aware of the corrections. But I believe those corrections need further clarification. Here is the link to the transcript of the hearing I mentioned.”

A “transformational” Snap idea

“Snap has announced a slew of updates over the past few months: some are more consequential than others, and one — Maps — is potentially transformational (for either good or bad!).” (Stratechery)

Fox and cops

Salon writes, “Fox News ran a headline on Wednesday that seemed to imply that violence against law enforcement was growing throughout the country.

“‘Police Officer Deaths on Duty Have Jumped Nearly 20 Percent in 2017,’ the headline read. ‘The figures suggest a grim trend; 2016 was the deadliest year for police in 5 years,’ Fox News wrote, then quoted the national spokesman of pro-police activist group Blue Lives Matter as suggesting that there was ‘growing violence against law enforcement.'”

“The problem with this narrative? It’s not true.”

Podcasting growing up

Says Recode, “Podcasting is growing up: According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, podcast industry ad revenue will reach $220 million in 2017, up 85 percent from 2016’s $119 million. And, after years of offering only an opaque ‘downloads’ number, Apple is getting ready to give podcast creators more data about their listeners.”

The founder of industry newsletter Hot Pod, Nick Quah, discusses all on, what else, a Recode podcast. In sum, by and large, most podcasters will greet the news positively Some won’t. Ignorance can be bliss.

The morning babble

“Trump & Friends” ongoing rose-colored take on Trump’s European jaunt continued as it claimed that its so-called dial testing of Trump’s jingoistic Warsaw speech showed Democrats “were coming on board” favorably in response to the speech even as they rated it a “C.”

And it downplayed anti-Trump protests in Hamburg as, well, not really anti-Trump, even as the city was near lockdown. (Bloomberg)

“Morning Joe” touched upon ISIS, with David Ignatius asserting it’s “being crushed city after city” after touring Syria with the U.S. military. It then turned to deriding Trump’s Warsaw speech and setting up the Trump-Putin meeting (which will include their respective top diplomats and two translators).

CNN’s “New Day” did lots on North Korea and what one can do, be it economic or military sanctions. It relied heavily on The New York Times’ David Sanger, who underscored the good military options are few, with Ron Brownstein focusing on the unrelated issue of the European Union and Japan signing a free trade deal to the apparent exclusion of the U.S.

Sticking it to New York’s mayor

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t display the best timing, heading to Hamburg in part to engage in protests surrounding the G20 meeting right after a New York cop was murdered. “AND DON’T COME BACK” is the New York Post headline. (New York Post) It looks tone-deaf. Or, more simply put, it looks Christie.

World’s most profitable tech company?

The Wall Street Journal says it’s Samsung, not Apple.

Breakfast at Wimbledon

Here’s one the politically correct mainstream sports guys and gals won’t touch: “Serena Williams debating between grass or clay birth” But you can find it in the comprehensive sports coverage of The Onion.

Ok, now cut to the weekend chase: The Welles Park Junior Division’s regular season comes to a close (on grass and clay) with our Rockies (third place and struggling a bit in the field) facing the powerhouse Cardinals tonight and the potent Brewers Saturday morning. It’s seven-and-eight-year-olds, coach-pitch, and my arm is ready.

Corrections? Tips? Please email me: jwarren@poynter.org. Would you like to get this roundup emailed to you every morning? Sign up here.

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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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