December 9, 2019

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A picture’s worth a thousand words

Another weekend. Another “Meet the Press” exchange between moderator Chuck Todd and a guest who believes Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election. This time, it was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who had a testy exchange with Todd, first about the media and then about Ukraine.

Just a week after Louisiana senator John Kennedy pushed the Ukraine conspiracy, Cruz did, too. When Todd asked him point-blank if he thought Ukraine interfered in the election, Cruz said, “I do. And I think there is considerable evidence.”

Todd looked incredulous (check out the photo above) and responded with: “YOU DO? You do?” Listen closely and you can even hear laughs from those in the studio.

The combative interview then turned even more prickly. Todd asked Cruz if Donald Trump was capable of creating a false narrative, considering that when Trump and Cruz were in a primary together, Trump launched a birtherism campaign against Cruz, went after Cruz’s faith and threatened to “spill the beans” about Cruz’s wife.

Cruz responded, “And Chuck, I appreciated you dragging up all that garbage. That’s very kind of you, go ahead.”

The interview continued on for another few moments with Cruz repeating that Ukraine wanted Hillary Clinton to become president and how the “mainstream media” is denying that fact.

So here we are again in the exact same place we often are after one of these “Meet the Press” interviews. Good for Todd for pushing back against these unfounded conspiracies and calling out his guests. But should “Meet the Press” continue to invite on guests who are going to push such false narratives that are being promoted by, of all people, the Russians?

Bloomberg on editorial stance: Live with it

Democratic presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg being interviewed by Gayle King of “CBS This Morning.” (Photo courtesy of CBS News)

Mike Bloomberg isn’t making things any better. The billionaire media owner has been criticized, and deservedly so, because reporters at his company are not allowed to investigate him or any of the other Democratic presidential hopefuls. (They can, however, report on Trump.)

Bloomberg was asked about this during an interview Friday with Gayle King of “CBS This Morning.”

“We just have to learn to live with some things,” Bloomberg told King. “They get a paycheck. But with your paycheck comes some restrictions and responsibilities.”

Learn to live with things?

Bloomberg still doesn’t get it. What this does for his integrity as a political candidate is up to you to decide. There’s no debate as to what it does to his credibility as the leader of a news organization: it cripples it.

New York Magazine and HuffPost contributor Yashar Ali tweeted:

“If I was a reporter at Bloomberg and had the ability to leave without another job lined up, I would resign in protest today. This is an outrageous statement for someone who owns and controls a news organization.”

Here is King’s extended interview with Bloomberg.

Biden on stuttering, his son and black voters

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, being interviewed by Mike Allen for “Axios on HBO.” (Photo courtesy of Axios)

Last month in The Atlantic, John Hendrickson wrote how Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s occasional verbal stumbles might be because of stuttering. Hendrickson had the perspective to write about the topic because he stutters.

But in an interview with Mike Allen of “Axios on HBO” that aired Sunday night, Biden denied that stuttering is the reason behind any mistakes he might make while speaking.

“I don’t think of myself as continuing to stutter. … That doesn’t cross my mind that I’m stuttering,” Biden said. “Look, the mistakes I make are mistakes. And some people think I still stutter. I don’t think of myself that way.”

It was just one of several topics Biden addressed, including restrictions on his son, Hunter, if he is elected, his thoughts on the direction of the Democratic party and why he thinks he has more support among black voters than Pete Buttigieg.

‘Today’ ramping up Time’s Person of the Year

For the 13th consecutive year, NBC’s “Today” show will reveal Time magazine’s Person of the Year. The announcement will come this week. This morning’s show will reveal the top 10. Tuesday’s show will reveal the top five. On Wednesday’s show, Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal will reveal the Time Person of the Year.

Any guesses?

President Trump always dominates the news, and he was named in 2016. Other possibilities include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Trouble at CBS news stations

In a blockbuster story in the Los Angeles Times, Meg James writes how local CBS TV stations are facing charges of harassment. James writes, “More than two dozen current and former employees of (Los Angeles stations) KCBS and KCAL described a toxic environment where, they said, employees encountered age discrimination, misogyny, and sexual harassment — and retaliation if they complained.”

James reports other discrimination claims have been alleged at CBS-owned stations in Chicago, Dallas and Miami.

This all comes after the network was rocked by claims that CBS chief executive Les Moonves had harassed and assaulted women many years ago. Moonves ended up losing his job a year ago.

James’ story goes into the details of the allegations made against the local affiliates. In a statement, Peter Dunn, the president of CBS Television Stations, said: “We respect all voices who express workplace concerns to us. We take them seriously, investigate thoroughly and take corrective action when necessary.”

Gannett CEO: Expect ‘additional reductions’

Gannett CEO Paul Bascobert sent a memo to staff Friday addressing layoffs at the company following the merger with GateHouse. Exact numbers so far are hard to pin down, but as Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds previously reported, roughly 4% of Gannett’s 24,000 employees — about 960 — are expected to be let go.

Bascobert indicated in his memo that there will be more layoffs after initial cuts last week. He wrote:

“The natural question at this point is ‘are we done?’ The honest answer is No. I have tried to be very transparent with you all and not spin things in a way that you wouldn’t believe anyway, so let me tell you where we are.”

Bascobert wrote that he expects “additional reductions” and that it could take “a few months to work through the process.”

Hot type

  • How did Rudy Giuliani become so connected to President Trump? A compelling look from The New York Times’ Jim Dwyer, Jo Becker, Kenneth P. Vogel, Maggie Haberman and Sarah Maslin Nir.
  • NBC Sports — led by Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe — have an honest discussion about racism in soccer in a rather strong segment during the network’s Premier League coverage. By the way, NBC’s coverage of the Premier League is among the best sports coverage on TV, and I say that as someone who is not even a huge soccer fan.
  • “CBS This Morning” had a touching story about flutist and journalist Eugenia Zukerman, who is living with Alzheimer’s.
  • The Kennedy Center Honors were Sunday night, but President Trump did not attend. Was that a good or bad thing? Or both? The Washington Post’s Roxanne Roberts weighs in.

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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