The New York Times is in bed with Donald Trump! Or in the guest house out back. And just like when a neighbor's car alarm goes off at 2 a.m., you can hear the squeals of outrage from down the block. For some diehard subscribers, an editorial nuclear winter will have now arrived and initially incinerated their Tesla or Honda CRV.
Yes, the paper is devoting what's normally its Thursday editorial page to Trump supporters, for whom the newspaper is a media devil. Trump, the boy from the déclassé outer borough of Queens, will be delighted, given his desperate craving for his hometown paper's affirmation, as the paper offers his acolytes their due (and follows Friday with "disillusioned" supporters and those miffed at the space given his adherents).
"NYT Runs Letters From Trump Supporters 'In The Spirit of Open Debate' " was the chyron across the screen of "Morning Joe" as co-host Mika Brzezinski, clearly non-plussed, committed that odd, Flying Wallendas-like act for many Americans: reading a broadsheet paper while sipping from what appeared a juice box on air. "It's a real challenge for news outlets (dealing with supporters of a guy 'hanging out with porn stars'). Getting more direct voices from Trump supporters. Good for them, it's one way to do it," said fiance Joe Scarborough about the paper's gambit.
How long before he hits the speed dial for reporter Maggie Haberman, his apparent unpaid shrink, and profusely thanks her? How long before he invites her over for an early morning Egg McMuffin (screw those high cholesterol levels) and an enraptured viewing of "Fox & Friends" — then allows her to watch him tweet his every declaration while rubbing his hands in a family-sized bottle of Purell hand sanitizer, as detailed by his physician. And then watches her tweet (at her seeming three-per-minute rate) about his tweets?
For example, there's Philip Maymin of Greenwich, Connecticut, a leafy preserve of Times readers, hedge fund managers and pricey feats of landscaping artistry. He's an associate professor of analytics and finance at the University of Bridgeport (whose few claims to fame include Victorian houses once owned by P.T. Barnum's family) and harrumphs:
"Now volatility is our friend. The more chaos, the better! Entrepreneurship up. Optimism up. Good old American problem solving is back! You know who loves change? Capitalists. Mr. Trump has led us on that spiritual exodus."
And then we have an Ellen Mackler of New Haven, Connecticut, the home of Yale University and thus a breeding ground of MSNBC, CNN and Mother Jones loyalists, not to mention a likely hiding ground for grandchildren of 1930s Trotskyites
"I thank my dear New York Times for asking to hear from Trump voters. It’s been difficult to read the paper this past year. It’s anti-Trump in everything from the front page to fashion. It’s so pervasive that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there’s not another loyal New York Times reader out there who voted for Mr. Trump and that I’m sending the only submission. New York Times, I will always love you, despite our disagreement."
What's one to think?
"Stupid idea," says one former editor and publisher of major magazines. "Looks like grandstanding. Showing they are open-minded. Just make an effort to run some good op-eds by pro-Trumpsters, which NYT hardly ever does."
"Boring," says John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine.
Says Colin Myler, former editor in chief of The New York Daily News, "Different — even by NYT standards! Maybe they are appealing to the Trump base and saying: You know we can’t stand the guy but even we realize he’s still got significant, solid supporters."
But wait. Folks on the right-leaning side of things are far from monolithic. Take it away Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review.
"It’s a clever idea. I like it. At least, one day this year I might find the New York Times editorial page more congenial!"
Now let's see if more dominoes will fall: Rachel Maddow supporting deportation back into harm's way of undocumented workers, Don Lemon conceding there are six "s—hole" countries or Bernie Sanders berating The Washington Post's Marty Baron as an exemplar of fake news while the senator also urges bigger tax breaks for Prof. Maymin's fellow Greenwich residents.
And, if none of that happens, don't worry there is still The Times op-ed page. Adjacent to those pro-Trump missives, three of four efforts Thursday are distinctly critical of Trump, including on his "s—hole countries" remark, ineffective trade policy and — whatever his cognitive scores might have been on his physical — his awful judgment.
Inside Harvey Weinstein's 'Frantic Final Days'
It's not quite up there with Adolf Hitler shooting himself after Eva Braun, his wife of one day, had taken a cyanide pill in the Führerbunker in Berlin. But Adam Ciralsky pieces together in Vanity Fair how, "as Weinstein saw that his time and his options were running out, he began to scramble. And as revealed here for the first time, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Weinstein and a coterie of loyalists — according to a dozen current and former T.W.C. employees and Weinstein advisers, as well as the initial findings of an internal company investigation — would allegedly spend his last days at the company searching for and trying to delete documents; absconding with others; surveilling ex-employees’ online communications; and seeking to discover who, in the end, had orchestrated his downfall."
"Today, as the #MeToo movement (amplified by allegations about Weinstein) continues to gain strength, and as an array of investor groups have been circling T.W.C. with bids to raise the company from the ashes, this is a tale of the tawdry battle that was waged from inside the Weinstein bunker last fall as the movie mogul made what may prove to be his last stand."
It's a tale of what played out inside Weinstein's de facto bunker. One sees self-delusion mixed with frantic decision-making, his moving between acceptance and anger, his burning tons of money on lawyers, the possibility a top company official stole sensitive personnel files involving him and others, and finally time running out in trying to stall The New York Times with the blockbuster Jodi Kantor–Meghan Twohey piece published Oct. 5.
And, in doing its tick-tock post-mortem, the magazine comes up with apparently one seemingly important document Weinstein tried to direct an IT specialist to delete: "HW Friends." A copy obtained by Vanity Fair shows it to be "a list of 63 women broken down by location: New York, Los Angeles, the United Kingdom, and Cannes, France. An investigator who had canvassed T.W.C. employees about Weinstein’s actions commented, 'The maintenance of a list of women’s names per city — the optics of that were not good.' " Ah, no.
Dylan Farrow ups the ante versus Woody Allen
CBS News duly reports its own scoop: "Woody Allen's adopted daughter Dylan Farrow is standing by her allegations that the Oscar-winning director sexually assaulted her when she was a child. Farrow discussed the allegations with Gayle King, co-host 'CBS This Morning' in her first television interview," which aired Thursday morning. "In light of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, she explained to King why she thinks just one accuser can make a difference."
Allen has long denied the allegation and, CBS underscores, never been charged with a crime. Reacting to the interview, he released a statement and maintained that "even though the Farrow family is cynically using the opportunity afforded by the Time's Up movement to repeat this discredited allegation, that doesn't make it any more true today than it was in the past. I never molested my daughter."
The Morning Babel
"Trump & Friends" heralded an ABC News interview where Apple boss Tim Cook said Trump's cut of corporate taxes would prompt "job creation and a faster growing economy." Stuart Varney, who loves the cuts, also put in his two cents for a deal to help the so-called Dreamers, but also build a wall and end chain migration.
Ah, yes, the S-word: shutdown. On CNN it was "GOP Moves Ahead With Vote To Avoid A Govt. Shutdown" and, yes, a Shutdown Countdown clock ticking away, just having passed 42 hours as the politics of it all were mulled, including Sen. Mitch McConnell underscoring yesterday that he was unclear what Trump's negotiating bottom line might be. "A clear disconnect," underscored co-host Chris Cuomo. Boy, that's a first in Trump-Capitol Hill relations!
Trump's Fake News Awards
They're a bit of a rehashed (and tweeted) dud. As Politico notes, "The entries focused on stories where the media outlets had admitted errors and issued corrections, like those by ABC News’ Brian Ross, who was suspended and then reassigned for an erroneous report on Trump and former national security adviser Michael Flynn."
It's not clear that Trump even created the list, as it appeared on gop.com, and he only tweeted a link to that.
"Other entries included Time’s mistaken report about Martin Luther King Jr.’s bust being removed from the Oval Office and CNN’s incorrect reporting on when Donald Trump Jr. had access to hacked WikiLeaks documents," wrote Politico.
He did tweet, with his great reservoir of magnanimity, "Despite some very corrupt and dishonest media coverage, there are many great reporters I respect and lots of GOOD NEWS for the American people to be proud of!”
As for the list, it "did not load for more than an hour. Instead, it displayed an error message reading, 'The site is temporarily offline, we are working to bring it back up. Please try back later.' " A digital Freudian slip perhaps.
The Trump physical
Sharon Begley writes in STAT, "Unless someone swipes one of President Trump’s used forks from the Mar-a-Lago dining room and sends it to 23andMe for DNA analysis, the world will simply have to guess what the White House physician meant when he told reporters on Tuesday that Trump 'has incredible genes, I just assume.' " She outlines what we know — and don't know — about how genes and lifestyle interact.
Tweeting tweeters about Putin propaganda
Recode tells us, "Twitter is exploring ways to notify perhaps millions of users who viewed Russian propaganda during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the company revealed Wednesday. Appearing at an unrelated hearing in the Senate, the company’s director of public policy, Carlos Monje, said Twitter is 'working to identify and inform individually the users who have been exposed to IRA accounts during the election' — referring to the Internet Research Agency, an online troll army with Kremlin ties."
"Monje did not elaborate how Twitter would do that. He did not say, for example, if the company would alert users who saw tweets from Russian-controlled accounts or only those targeted with ads. Nor did he say if Twitter would alert users who viewed content generated by RT, a news service tied to the Russian government, which the company has recently banned from sponsoring tweets on the site."
The new S-word, as seen from Storm Lake
Washington media and political scientists are of differing views about who might take the political fall if there really is a partial shutdown of the federal government (don't forget the CNN Countdown Clock), as U.S. News & World Report makes clear. But most of their takes verge toward the decorous, unlike Art Cullen, Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of the 10-person Storm Lake, Iowa Times. I told him I was skeptical about a shutdown being a surefire political win for Democrats.
"I share your skepticism about Democrats holding the GOP hostage over DACA. I do not hear enough to comment on what the effects might be on Democrats, but all my old white men friends who all voted for Trump still think he's great and they certainly will blame the Democrats for a shutdown. I also spoke with a college-age Latina yesterday who, when I asked her if she believed DACA will get fixed, hung her head and shook 'No.' "
"They have absolutely no faith that DACA will be addressed. They are smarter than anyone gives them credit for. They will not hold it against the Dems; they know Trump is a fool. And they might actually turn out in 2018. So of course it is a mixed bag, but the Dreamers do not understand the Byzantine negotiations going on. They just know it is all bullshit."
Unrest in the Steel City
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports this about the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"As a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, Aryanna Berringer is willing to talk to just about anyone to earn their support. But not the Post-Gazette editorial board: On Wednesday, Ms. Berringer said she is no longer interested in having the newspaper's endorsement after it published a racially charged editorial about President Donald Trump and immigration on Monday."
Microsoft and the dangers of Artificial Intelligence
It's publishing a new book on the topic that will be subject of a panel as the elite meet to eat (and converse) in Davos, Switzerland, next week and here's the gist via Bloomberg:
"The rapidly advancing area of artificial intelligence will require a new field of law and new regulations governing a growing pool of businesses involved, according to Microsoft Corp., a 25-year participant in AI research."
"Companies making and selling AI software will need to be held responsible for potential harm caused by 'unreasonable practices' — if a self-driving car program is set up in an unsafe manner that causes injury or death, for example, Microsoft said. And as AI and automation boost the number of laborers in the gig-economy or on-demand jobs, Microsoft said technology companies need to take responsibility and advocate for protections and benefits for workers, rather than passing the buck by claiming to be 'just the technology platform’' enabling all this change."
Getting more interactive with sports
The Associated Press and Arkadium are partnering to make AP sports coverage more interactive via a tool called InHabit. It's meant to weave polls, quizzes and various games into certain stories, with the AP now using it for pro football, college football and college basketball.
In fact, the integration is already live, as you can see in this Pittsburgh Steelers story that now includes a quiz about quarterbacks. AP has previously been using artificial intelligence in producing certain earnings reports, as Ben Mullin, then with Poynter and now at The Wall Street Journal, pointed out in this Poynter opus.
Good gig if you can get it
The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, a women-led newsroom for independent journalists, is seeking applications for the third year of its Ida B. Wells Fellowship.The aim is promoting diversity via a "pipeline of investigative reporters of color," which are not in ample supply in the industry.
It's a one-year deal, with a $10,000 award and money available to cover travel and associated reporting costs. Fellows air or publish findings within a year of their start. Applications are due Feb. 15 and here's the form.
The Zuckerberg Corollary
In his provocative and smart blog, University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner alludes to Milton Friedman, the late legendary economist, and Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock, as he tartly assesses the latest with Mark Zuckerberg. He calls the posting "The Zuckerberg Corollary:"
The Friedman doctrine: “Businesses should not be socially responsible but should maximize profits.”
The Fink doctrine: “Businesses should be socially responsible by maximizing profits.”
The Zuckerberg corollary: “Businesses should be socially responsible by doing whatever it is they do.”
The inspiration here with Zuckerberg is a New York Times op-ed in which author Noam Cohen wrote about Facebook's change in its News Feed, to diminish the role of news: "Turns out, an enlightened, socially engaged Facebook has a similar outlook as the amoral, audience-seeking Facebook. Each sees connecting online as key to the good life."
In other words, don’t count on Facebook to disrupt Facebook any time soon.
And one totally blown by the mainstream media
"Following yesterday’s announcement that the president received a perfect score on his cognitive assessment, White House physician Ronny L. Jackson told reporters Wednesday that follow-up tests confirmed that President Trump’s 19 other personalities are also perfectly healthy."
Thanks, Breitbart, ah, I mean The Onion.