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.
CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller is famously fastidious with all presidential happenings. Ditto his Monday accounting of June press briefings: Five on camera, 10 off camera, three days with none at all. And now comes a development that’s rather explicit in the headline of a piece by Celeste Katz of Mic: “Even Donald Trump’s schedule has become a victim of a White House push against transparency.”
Her opus reminds one that Trump already parts company with the Obama administration by not making public White House visitor logs, having Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travel without a press contingent, holding more briefings without cameras and even threatening to stop holding briefings.
“Some days, we’ll have ’em; some days we won’t,” Press Secretary Sean Spicer said about cameras.
Meanwhile, the president of India was in Washington and did not do the traditional press conference with his American counterpart. So did one of the leaders refuse to talk to reporters jointly? Spicer wouldn’t say.
The Obama administration didn’t have a glorious transparency record. But Trump is making them look like apostles of full disclosure.
For sure, there is a smidgen of press whining that can be a tactical mistake. The White House Correspondents’ Association keeps having meetings with “Sean” and “Sarah” (Huckabee Sanders) and others, finding solace in the most laughable small crumbs thrown their way. It tends to want to play nice, rather than tell a president’s press flunkies (and him by default) to go screw themselves.
In this particular instance, it’s all about a White House protecting a mercurial president who forces his spokespeople to frequently defend lies. The stated rationale of “Sean” and “Sarah” in private meetings with the press has largely to do with claims that the on-camera briefings have become overly theatrical. That’s a not altogether inaccurate reference to some (not all) TV folks.
But the evolution of the briefing into a bit of a TV show obscures the larger reality here: This White House simply accelerates the unmistakable recent trend of administrations of both parties much preferring to operate in the dark.
Google gets whacked
“Google lost its biggest regulatory battle yet, getting a record 2.4 billion-euro ($2.7 billion) fine from European Union enforcers who say the search-engine giant skewed results in its favor to thwart smaller shopping search services.” (Bloomberg)
Google will be able to scrape up the dough, since it’s quarterly revenues are in the area of $25 billion.
A short stay at CNN
Eric Lichtblau was a respected veteran New York Times investigative reporter when he split in April to be Washington investigative editor at CNN (after collaborating on a long knockout analysis of Comey’s handling of investigations into Hillary Clinton and President Trump). Now he’s resigned, along with reporter Thomas Frank and a second investigative editor, Lex Haris, after a retracted story about alleged ties to a Russian investment fund of a Trump ally. (Poynter)
CNN.com ran a solid, if discreetly played, Brian Stelter story on CNN’s swift action that included Haris’ statement: “I’ve been with CNN since 2001, and am sure about one thing: This is a news organization that prizes accuracy and fairness above all else. I am leaving, but will carry those principles wherever I go.” (CNN)
Ideological kerfuffle at ESPN
Reporter Britt McHenry, “who was one of approximately 100 employees ESPN let go in April, suggested in a since-deleted Twitter comment Monday she knows why the Worldwide Leader sent her packing: She’s a conservative at what she apparently sees as a liberal network.” (New York Post) “McHenry has been both vocal and closeted in her political views. The 31-year-old attended a GOP event last December, for example, and captured the night in a photo of her and Paul Ryan she posted to her Instagram account — which she subsequently deleted.”
A Trump-free Tuesday
“Salon’s Trump-free Tuesday: For one day, we won’t publish his name or his picture.” (Salon)
Vimeo ditches plans
“Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp is abandoning plans to create an on-demand video service that would have competed for eyeballs with Netflix Inc., Hulu and HBO.” (Bloomberg) “The service intended to entice Vimeo’s more than 200 million viewers to pay for exclusive content. Vimeo will instead focus on a suite of tools for filmmakers.”
Cheatsheet on paying for news
“54 percent: Globally, more than half of readers say they see no point in paying for news online because they can get the information for free already, according to research released last week by the Reuters Institute.” (Digiday) “16 percent: The percentage of U.S. consumers who paid for online news last year. For comparison, 33 percent of American adults pay for a digital video service such as Netflix, and 22 percent pay for digital audio content, also per Reuters.”
Fiction and Washington reality
“The writers of Showtime’s ‘Homeland’ are already brainstorming next season, ‘and every day the landscape changes,’ says Alex Gansa, an executive producer and co-creator of the Claire Danes-starring spy thriller. ‘It’s very difficult to keep up with.'” (AP)“’We are in extremely unusual times,’ he says,’and sometimes it feels like nothing we dramatize on ‘Homeland’ can be nearly as scary as what’s actually happening on the world stage.’”
Apple makes eye contact
“In a move that is sure to stoke rumors about Apple’s future work in augmented and virtual reality technologies, Apple has acquired SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI), an eye-tracking firm, MacRumors reports.” (TechCrunch) “The German company, which was founded in 1991, has done significant work in eye-tracking research with proprietary eyeglass hardware while also working on consumer-focused applications like eye-tracking for virtual reality. Last year, the company announced it had created an eye-tracking development kit for the HTC Vive VR headset.”
Historians as pundits
Interviewed in The Atlantic, Princeton’s Julian Zelizer notes a provocative New York Times piece in which Harvard’s Moshik Temkin urged academics who comment on news to avoid “the “rapid-fire, superficial way history is being presented.”
But, he argues, some historians should indeed be pundits. Historical comparisons, he concedes, can be both imperfect yet still instructive. “For my own part, I have spent much of my time on CNN and here in The Atlantic trying to explain how the Donald Trump presidency can only be understood within the context of the strengthened role of partisanship in Washington since the 1970s and the transformation of the news media.”
“In other words, I have tried to show that President Trump is not a cause of our current political environment but a product of changes that have been building for years.”
How a bullet can change a life
NBC News did a terrific online job with profiles of individuals shot by a kidnapper, a police suspect, a mugger, a husband and by accident and in Iraq. You should take a look at “Journey of a Bullet. “The tale of Belleville, Illinois police officer Jon Brough is typically gripping, as a gunshot blast from inside the home of a double-murder suspect went right through his face shield. It blinded him, prompted more than 30 surgeries and a reconstruction of his face. His perseverance is inspiring. So are some of the other sagas.
Meanwhile, Nieman Reports takes a look at how newsrooms are indeed getting more sophisticated in writing about gun violence, while Nieman Storyboard kicks off at look at fine writing by talking to Jason Fagone about his Huffington Post Highline profile of a trauma surgeon.
The Sun-Times awaits its fate
It appeared the Chicago Sun-Times was to be gobbled up by the rival Tribune, then the Justice Department antitrust division got involved and sought gin up more interest. Several deadlines have passed, with only one other bidder comprised of a former local politician and a federation of labor unions. A wait continues. Maybe the president will tweet the final decision one of these early mornings. (Poynter)
Why Sprint-T-Mobile merger talks on hold
“Sprint Corp. has entered into exclusive talks with Charter Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp. as the cable companies explore a deal that could bolster their plans to offer wireless service, according to people familiar with the matter.” (The Wall Street Journal)
The morning babble
Slightly different strokes for different folks this morning as “Trump & Friends” heralded the Supreme Court taking the travel ban dispute, “CNN’s “New Day” initially focusing on the health care bill, and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” doing national security given the Trump warning about action against Syria.
Fox’s co-host Steve Doocy raised doubts about the estimate of 22 million losing their benefits but still saw it as a “sledgehammer” by which Democrats will somehow get on board. CNN pundit Dave Drucker didn’t go that route but feels that growing weakness in the overall system may get the GOP votes it needs from its side, albeit later than planned, perhaps by next month.
But the most memorable was “Trump & Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt again serving as pro bono member of the White House communications team, following up journalistic wet kisses of Trump, Melania and Mike Pence with one of Ivanka Trump.
“Are you the chef or is Jared the chef?” Answer: “I’m the chef, Jared does clean-up,” which seems appropriate given the substantial mess he’s left behind with covert dealing with Russian interests now investigated by Robert Mueller. That will take more than several gallons of dishwashing liquid.
A retirement tip
Here’s one you won’t find in upscale travel magazines or stories with counsel on retirement locales: “Retired racehorses move to longer, successful careers in Montana.” (Wyoming Tribune Eagle)