Editor explains decision to spike story; First Amendment Awards takeaway; Baltimore station enjoys legal win

Your Friday news roundup

March 15, 2019
Category: Newsletters

Welcome to the end of the week — a week that was not so great for Fox News, but was really good for open records. That’s appropriate considering it was Sunshine Week, which focuses on the media’s access to public records.

Plenty to catch up on, including the news that Fox News’ Tucker Carlson was trying to establish his own Fox bureau in a small town in Maine.

Let’s get started.

Tucker Carlson’s Maine event

The Whitman Library in Bryant Pond, Maine, where Fox News host Tucker Carlson sometimes films his show while vacationing. (Photo by Steve Collins/The Sun Journal)

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson wanted to buy a garage in Bryant Pond, Maine, where he could set up a studio to tape his TV show whenever he vacations in the area. But Carlson scrapped the plan after the Sun Journal of Lewiston wrote about it. Carlson claims Fox was worried about the security of all that equipment in a rural studio whose presence would be widely known. What’s more, Carlson claims the Sun Journal purposely undermined his plan for a TV home away from home by writing about it.

I spoke with reporter Steve Collins of the Sun Journal. He broke the story and even interviewed Carlson, who said in the story that he was “bitter” and “kind of crushed” about the whole thing.

Collins told me, “(Carlson) repeatedly insisted that he was sure I was out to get him — just another Democrat doing a hit piece — but he listened respectfully to my take on it.”

His side of the story

The former editor of FoxNews.com who killed the Stormy Daniels-Donald Trump affair story before the 2016 election published the original story Thursday with an explanation as to why he didn’t originally run it. He did so to prove his motivation was not political.

Ken LaCorte, on his own website, wrote, “In short, we weren’t close to having this story and I have no regrets holding it, even though it turned out to be true. Good journalists don’t publish what they ‘know’; they publish what they can prove. Would you have published this?”

LaCorte’s story comes a week after Jane Mayer’s piece in the New Yorker claimed LaCorte killed the Daniels-Trump story when he told the reporter that Fox owner Rupert Murdoch “wants Donald Trump to win.’’ LaCorte denied ever making that comment.

LaCorte also wrote in his story Thursday: “For an editor evaluating this story in the days before a national election, it didn’t come close to meeting journalistic standards.”

Quote of the day

CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker in 2018 in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

The 2019 First Amendment Awards were handed out Wednesday night in Washington, D.C., by the Radio Television Digital News Foundation. Among the winners were CNN boss Jeff Zucker, who provided the most interesting quote of the night:

“This is an incredible time to be part of the American media. Not since McCarthy in the 1950s and Nixon in the 1970s has journalism been so important. And it’s never been better. Whether you like Donald Trump or hate Donald Trump, the one thing I think we can all agree on is that Donald Trump has made American journalism great again. The other thing we can agree on is that the media is not the enemy of the people.”

One pushback on Zucker’s quote: American journalism has always been great. What Trump has done is make that more noticeable.

Sports site being sold

Mark J. Burns of Morning Consult reports that the popular sports website TheBigLead.com has been sold and that co-founder and frequent contributor Jason McIntyre will no longer be a part of the site. In a deal expected to be announced today, Gannett will sell TheBigLead.com to Minute Media.

It’s unclear what this means for the future of TheBigLead.com, but the site — which covered sports, sports and pop culture, and sports media — is a daily go-to read for me with smart commentary and occasional breaking news. Deadspin’s Laura Wagner was not particularly optimistic, writing, “Its sale today to this shady sweatshop of a digital media company is the end of an era, even if that era was mostly boring and vapid.”

Winning in court

A Baltimore television station won a big legal battle this week when a judge ruled Baltimore City Schools “knowingly and willfully” violated the law by not releasing important documents about how some students are graded. Fox45 sued the schools on behalf of parents and taxpayers who say children are being pushed through the system without proper education.

It’s another timely victory considering this is Sunshine Week, which focuses attention on access to public information, open government and journalism’s role in promoting transparency.

Speaking Factually

The International Fact-Checking Network is out with its latest “Factually” newsletter. The big topic this week: two new health fact-checkers. Also, did “The View”’s Joy Behar really believe Melania Trump had a body double during a recent trip to Alabama? Read Daniel Funke and Susan Benkelman’s newsletter and sign up here.

Check it out

He has spent part of his life homeless. Now this teenager has 17 acceptance letters from colleges. CBS News reports.

How, exactly, did Media Matters and a 24-year-old who works the night shift come up with the tapes of Tucker Carlson making offensive comments to Bubba the Love Sponge a decade ago? The Washington Post’s Eli Rosenberg has the details.

Here’s a fascinating on-air conversation between CNN hosts Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo about whether or not Kellyanne Conway should ever appear on CNN — not long after Cuomo had Conway on his show.

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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