Pardon the interruption, Sen. Graham, but MSNBC is talking, plus NYT fallout and ESPN seating assignments

May 2, 2019
Category: Newsletters

This is Poynter’s daily morning newsletter. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.

We interrupt this program …

MSNBC broke into its own live coverage of Wednesday’s senate judiciary committee hearings for fact-checking.


Attorney General William Barr on Capitol Hill on May 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

It’s almost unheard of for a network to break away from senate or congressional hearings specifically to call out someone lying in those hearings. But that’s exactly what MSNBC did Wednesday during the testimony of Attorney General Bill Barr about the Mueller report. In fact, it did so twice.

First, the network claimed Sen. Lindsey Graham said something that wasn’t true. Then the network cut in to say Barr was flat-out lying.

Breaking in like that is so rare that even anchor Brian Williams acknowledged it, admitting on air that networks are “reluctant” to do so.

So you have to ask: Was it the right thing to do? That’s the topic of a column I’ve written for Poynter.org.

‘Retired’ college journalist sprung into action

The arts and entertainment writer jumped in to cover a campus shooting in which a fellow staffer was shot and injured.

Police secure the main entrance to UNC Charlotte after a fatal shooting at the school in Charlotte, North Carolina. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)

A little before 3 p.m. on Tuesday, UNC-Charlotte’s Alexandria Sands tweeted that she was “officially a retired college newspaper editor.” Just three hours later, while she was in her final college class ever, Sands saw the news that there was an active shooter on campus.

Charlotte magazine’s Emma Way reports that Sands, an editor at the Niner Times’ school paper and a Charlotte magazine intern, unexpectedly had to cover a story she never wanted to as two were killed and four more were injured. A 22-year-old male was arrested for the shootings. One of the injured was Niner Times’ sportswriter, Drew Pescaro, who underwent surgery and was reportedly stable.

With campus on lockdown, Sands went to the corner of a dark classroom, pulled out her laptop and started writing.

Elissa Miller, the paper’s arts and entertainment editor, told Charlotte magazine, “I’d never reported on anything like that before. I typically cover arts and entertainment. I’m not the news journalist for us. … I did not know what I was doing. I just needed to be doing something.”

‘The fearless pursuit and expression of truth’

From Atlantic Media, The Michael Kelly Award finalists are announced.

A woman sits with her baby inside a shelter for displaced persons in Ibb, Yemen, in this Aug. 3, 2018 photo. An AP investigation found that large amounts of international food aid is making into the country, but once there, the food often isn’t getting to people who need it most. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

Atlantic Media announced the four finalists for its 16th annual Michael Kelly Award. The award is named after The Atlantic and National Journal editor killed in 2003 while covering the war in Iraq and honors work that displays the courage, determination and passion exemplified by Kelly. (Kelly, by the way, also was the character played by Hank Azaria in the movie “Shattered Glass.”)

The finalists for the award are:

The finalists will be honored at an awards dinner in Washington, D.C., on May 23, where the winner of the $25,000 first-place prize will be announced. The other three finalists will each receive $3,000.

NYT’s leadership promises ‘direct focus’

CNN has an inside look at how The New York Times is addressing problems raised by an anti-Semitic cartoon.

The fallout continues over The New York Times’ controversial anti-Semitic cartoonin its international edition. CNN’s Brian Stelter reports that Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger said, “We are taking disciplinary steps with the production editor.” In addition, the paper will drop syndicated cartoons and will update its “unconscious bias training” to include “direct focus on anti-Semitism.”

In its original apology on Twitter, the Times said the cartoon’s publication was the result of a “single editor working without adequate oversight.” The paper’s editorial board called the cartoon “bigoted.”

In a story Wednesday on CNN.com penned by Stelter, Oliver Darcy and Hadas Gold, 16 Times staffers “described a short-staffed international publication; an opinion section prone to self-inflicted wounds; and an ongoing debate about the newspaper’s biases and blind spots” as for how this could have happened. Some staffers said the cartoon was a source of embarrassment inside the newspaper, but were impressed by the changes announced by Sulzberger.

No surprises in the ESPN booth

Last year’s two-man team is back again for Monday Night Football.


Booger McFarland (left) and Joe Tessitore. (AP Photo/File)

In an expected move, ESPN will go with Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland as the announcing team for Monday Night Football. (Lisa Salters returns as a sideline reporter.)

When Jason Witten left the booth after one season earlier this year to return to playing, there was talk that ESPN might revamp the announcing team and make a run at former NFL star Peyton Manning. But Manning appears to have no interest in broadcasting at this time, so Tessitore and McFarland return for a second season in a traditional two-person booth.

But something to keep an eye on: According to the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, there’s a possibility of Tony Romo leaving CBS when his contract is up after next season. ESPN could pony up the more than the $10 million a year Romo is looking for. After only two seasons, Romo already is considered among the best — if not the best — in the business and would be just the star ESPN needs to make Monday Night Football must-see TV again.

Hot type

A curated list of great journalism and intriguing media.


Michael Cohen. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

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

Upcoming Poynter training:

Want to get this briefing in your inbox? Sign up here.

Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.