This is the Poynter Institute’s daily newsletter. To have it delivered to your inbox Monday-Friday, click here.
Hello and good Tuesday to you. Let’s start with controversy over a book that won’t be out for another three months.
‘We shouldn’t want (him) back in print’
There’s a new book coming out in November about how Democrats can beat President Donald Trump in 2020. It will be written by a veteran journalist who was once the political director at ABC News and later a senior political analyst for MSNBC. He co-wrote the best-selling book, “Game Change” about the 2008 election, which was turned into an HBO movie starring Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin.
Yet there’s outrage over the book because of who wrote it. The author is Mark Halperin, who left his role at MSNBC and NBC in 2017 after he was accused of sexually harassing and assaulting women while he was with ABC in the 1990s. CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported at the time that Halperin was accused of propositioning employees for sex, of kissing and grabbing one woman’s breast against her will.
On Monday, the Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan wrote, “He has a high-profile book deal — but what he doesn’t seem to have is a sense of why he shouldn’t have one.”
What’s stunning is just how many people spoke to Halperin for his book. Politico’s Playbook newsletter reported that more than 75 Democratic strategists were interviewed, including recognizable names such as David Axelrod, Donna Brazile and James Carville.
Darcy reported that Eleanor McManus, one of Halperin’s accusers, said, “I can’t believe these people spoke to him. The fact that so many people spoke to him sets the whole #MeToo movement back. And it shows they are enabling him and re-traumatizing the victims.”
Darcy also spoke to some of those who were interviewed by Halperin for his book. Axelrod said he regretted talking to Halperin, but Carville said, “The guy called me and asked me to speak to him on a topic that I obviously care about. And I spoke to him.”
In a strange answer that really didn’t answer the question of why she talked to Halperin, Brazile told Darcy, “I’m not the author. Ask Mark why he chose us.” She then followed that up with a note to Darcy that was even more bizarre.
A spokesperson for another one of Halperin’s sources said the source only participated because she wants to see Trump defeated in 2020.
The Washingtonian got responses from as many of Halperin’s sources as possible to find out why they talked. In summary, it sounds like the answers ranged from “I wasn’t thinking” to “I’ll talk to anyone who is working on a book that is anti-Trump.”
While I don’t think this, maybe somewhere in the middle are those who feel as if Halperin should be able to move on with his career. Some appeared to have either forgotten or never knew about Halperin’s past.
The book’s publisher, Judith Regan, put out a statement in which she said she does not condone any harm done to anyone, but, “I have also lived long enough to believe in the power of forgiveness, second chances and offering a human being a path to redemption.”
Sullivan closed her column by writing, “ … we shouldn’t want Mark Halperin back in print or on the air in the name of forgiveness. Especially because he hasn’t asked for forgiveness directly from the very women whose lives and careers he damaged.”
London journalist attacked, blames far right
A columnist for The Guardian was assaulted outside of a London bar over the weekend while celebrating his 35th birthday. Owen Jones said he was attacked by four men in a “blatant premeditated assault.” He said he was punched and kicked, although he did not require medical attention.
Jones told his paper, “In the past year I’ve been repeatedly targeted in the street by far-right activists, including attempts to use physical assault, and homophobic abuse. I’ve had a far-right activist taking pictures of me, and posting threatening messages and a video.”
Jones said the attack was a result of the “rise of an emboldened far right, which is increasingly violent, and targeting minorities and people on the left. They are being radicalized by mainstream politicians and a disturbingly large segment of the mainstream media.”
Jones also posted a video on Twitter.
Police confirmed Jones was attacked, but no arrests have been made.
No vindication in Youngstown
In June, the journalism world was saddened to hear that the newspaper in Youngstown, Ohio, — The Vindicator — would close at the end of August after 150 years. Then there was excitement last week when The Tribune Chronicle, an Ogden newspaper in nearby Warren, Ohio, acquired The Vindicator’s subscription list, masthead and Vindy.com domain.
So Youngstown is getting its newspaper back, right? Well, not so fast. Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton writes, “Essentially, it’s the right to create something that can call itself the Vindy. The journalists losing their jobs are still losing their jobs.”
The Tribune Chronicle said it will invest more resources in Youngstown, but what that means isn’t exactly known. As Benton wrote, “It’s highly unlikely to match the two dozen journalists that were in The Vindicator’s newsroom at the time of the closing announcement. … For Youngstown, the reality is it’s moving from having a newspaper of its own to having a zoned edition of a smaller newspaper in a smaller city one county over.”
“As the local newspaper business decays, we’re going to see more cases like this: One paper buying the name and subscriber list of another and creating a thinly rebranded edition of what they’re already producing. The delocalizing of local.”
The real Rocky story
Former NFL running back Rocky Bleier returns to Vietnam on the 50th anniversary of when he was wounded there. (Photo courtesy of ESPN)
It was 50 years ago today — Aug. 20, 1969 — when Rocky Bleier’s “Charlie Company” was ambushed in Vietnam. Bleier was shot in the thigh and a grenade blast severely damaged his right foot. A football star at Notre Dame and a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bleier was told he would never play football again. Not only did he play again, he fought his way back to be a four-time Super Bowl champion in Pittsburgh, where he became something of a cult hero. (I grew up in Pittsburgh and, true story, my seventh-grade book report was on “Fighting Back: The Rocky Bleier Story.”)
Tonight at 8 Eastern, ESPN2 will air a documentary about Bleier’s return to Vietnam for the first time since he was injured there. “The Return” was narrated by Tom Rinaldi and was selected as “Best Documentary” at the LA Shorts International Film Festival.
Departing Deadspin editor finds new job
Megan Greenwell wasn’t out of work long. Less than a week after she quit as editor of Deadspin, Greenwell was hired as editor of Wired.com, according to Talking Biz News’ Chris Roush. Wired’s editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson said, “Megan is one of the most brilliant editors and managers in the business.”
Before joining Deadspin, Greenwell worked as an editor at Esquire, ESPN The Magazine and New York magazine. She also wrote for The Washington Post. She was Deadspin’s first female editor, but quit after 18 months because of run-ins with Deadspin’s newest owners, G/O Media.
Last week, she told The Daily Beast, “I have been repeatedly undermined, lied t, and gaslit in my job.”
Greenwell is expected to start Sept. 3 and will be based out of New York.
Caps for sale!
President Donald Trump holds a “Keep America Great” hat as he speaks at a recent campaign rally. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
The Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which owns local TV stations all over the country, is known for its conservative views. But it appeared to step over the line this past weekend when several of its stations ran stories that promoted Trump’s reelection campaign fundraising efforts.
The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay reported that at least 20 Sinclair-owned stations posted items on their website that promoted a new “Keep America Great” hat for sale on the Trump campaign’s website. He also reported that all the stories linked directly to the campaign’s online store, although that link has since been removed on many of the stories.
One of the stories read, “Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has rolled out new hats as the president aims for another four-year term in 2020. Trump’s online campaign store has started selling red baseball hats with the slogan ‘Keep America Great’ in white letters.” The story then linked to the store.
The story originated at WRGB in Albany, New York. In a statement to several media outlets, Sinclair said, “The decision to pick up a syndicated story is made at the local level and at no point was there any corporate-directive made regarding this story.”
- Six months ago, a Customs and Border Patrol agent shot a 21-year-old American in the head. CBP still won’t say why. Dana Liebelson has the story for HuffPost.
- Another disturbing border patrol piece: ProPublica’s A.C. Thompson with the story of the border patrol agent who “used his 4,000-pound truck to assault a fleeing immigrant.”
- I don’t know how realistic this is, but in a thought-provoking column for “The Week,” Ryan Cooper argues that most major American cities should phase out cars.
- You won’t believe how much the Los Angeles Times will have to pay a former legendary sports columnist because of an age and discrimination lawsuit.
Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at email@example.com.
Upcoming Poynter training:
- Trusting News Webinar Series. Webinar No. 1 is Wednesday at noon Eastern.
- Fundamentals of Investigative Journalism (online seminar). Deadline: Aug. 31.
Want to get this briefing in your inbox? Sign up here.