April 29, 2019

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Let’s get into it

CNN’s Jake Tapper and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway get into sparring match on TV.

Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway meets reporters at the White House in on April 24, 2019. (Photo: Patsy Lynch /MediaPunch /IPX)

CNN’s Jake Tapper and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway had a contentious conversation Sunday, this time while discussing white nationalism.

During the interview on Sunday’s “State of the Union,” Conway defended Trump’s “very fine people on both sides” comment he made in 2017 to describe the violence at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. She said Trump was speaking generally about the debate of removing Confederate statues. Trump also made that claim last Friday and said complimentary things about Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

Tapper and Conway spoke over one another until it reached a boiling point when Conway said that Trump’s words are being twisted because, “it looks like you guys are afraid that (Trump) can’t be beaten fairly and squarely.’’

Tapper shot back, “That comment is beneath you.”

It’s just the latest incident of a CNN anchor getting into it with Conway, usually because said CNN anchor grows frustrated with Conway’s non-answers. Ultimately, you have to ask: Why does CNN even have her on? That question has been brought up in the past, even by those on CNN. Host Don Lemon once asked that question of Chris Cuomo, who said it’s rare that anyone from the White House ever comes on CNN, so he welcomes everyone, including Conway.

The right side of history

White House Correspondents’ Dinner speaker made for a memorable evening.

Author Ron Chernow at his home in New York. (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano, File)

The White House Correspondents Association dinner carried on Saturday night without Trump for the third year in a row. And it went on without anyone from Trump’s administration (he ordered them to stay away), a comedian host and without much celebrity star power or fanfare. But the subdued dinner still managed to point a spotlight on Trump’s absence and his attacks against the media.

Historian Ron Chernow was the keynote speaker. He recognized the accomplishments and importance of journalists, while criticizing Trump’s attacks on the media.

“This glorious tradition — you folks are a part of it,” Chernow said, “and we can’t have politicians trampling on it with impunity.” He added, “When you chip away at the press, you chip away at our democracy.”

Chernow also talked about how presidents have always had issues with the press, going all the way back to George Washington.

“Like every great president, Washington felt maligned and misunderstood the press,” Chernow said, “but he never generalized that into a vendetta.”

The New York Times apologizes

The Opinion section ran an anti-Semitic cartoon in its international editions.

The New York Times opinion section has apologized for a cartoon that ran Thursday in its international edition. The cartoon had an apparently blind Donald Trump wearing a yarmulke being led by a dog with a Star of David for a collar and the face of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a tweet, Times Opinion apologized, saying it was “deeply sorry” and committed to making sure it never happens again. It called such imagery “dangerous” and all the more unacceptable at a time when “anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide.”

The Times said the cartoon ran as a result of a “single editor working without adequate oversight.”

A stumbling block

A communications director used her body to prevent reporters and TV cameras from collecting footage. Bad call, says a local columnist.

A screenshot from in McAllen, Texas.

Edinburg, Texas, mayor Richard Molina and his wife, Dalia, were arrested last week on voter fraud charges. So why was the city’s director of communications and media, Cary Zayas, shielding the media from shooting video of Dalia as she sat in her car in front of the jail after being released? Zayas, a former TV reporter, said she was at the proceedings in her role with the city, which made her actions all the worse, according to a commentary written by Michael Rodriguez for The (McAllen, Texas) Monitor.

Rodriguez wrote, “This means that when she attempted to restrict our access while covering law enforcement proceedings, which she has no authority over, she did so while on the clock for the city in a position funded by taxpayers.”

Edinburg city manager Juan Guerra was shown the video and said, “The conduct of an employee, especially when it’s questionable, is not something that publicly we will state as bad or good. It’s one thing that we will handle internally.”

Top of the food chain

The James Beard Foundation toasted writers, photographers and journalists Friday in New York City.

Tyra Banks at the 2019 James Beard Foundation Media Awards in New York City. (Photo by Demis Maryannakis/STAR MAX/IPx)

The James Beard Foundation media awards — given to the top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists — were handed out Friday night in New York City. Tyra Banks hosted. The big news was that The New York Times was named publication of the year.

The foundation wrote, “The New York Times has shown what can happen when a legacy company invests in its food and drink coverage.”

The Beard Foundation also seemed to acknowledge why it was recognizing the Times this year, as opposed to the past. It wrote:

“Because we’ve been impressed with the ways in which The Times has lately doubled down on both print and online journalism, finding the most effective and appealing ways to present stories, reviews, and recipes for maximum impact and reading (or viewing) pleasure.”

It also pointed out several other commitments the Times made to covering food, including moving columnist and critic Tejal Rao to Los Angeles to cover the West Coast.

The Los Angeles Times recently re-started its food section and is ramping up food coverage, setting up an interesting competition between the L.A. Times and The New York Times in the coming years.

More than three dozen Beard awards were handed out Friday, including best TV program in a studio or fixed locations (“Pati’s Mexican Table — Tijuana: Stories from the Border” on WETA in Washington); outstanding broadcast personality (Marcus Samuelsson from PBS’s “No Passport Required”); and best in column writing (Mari Uyehara from Taste).

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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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