President Trump’s Twitter didn’t take Labor Day off, plus a reporter’s White House lawsuit after a Rose Garden exchange

September 3, 2019
Category: Newsletters

Welcome to fall. Well, not officially, but Labor Day always feels like the end of summer. Hurricane Dorian remains the dominant news story. But before we get to that, President Donald Trump was busy Monday, firing off a series of tweets (more than 20) before going golfing.

Labor Day tweetstorm

The war continues. President Donald Trump vs. the American media.

Trump went on a Twitter rampage on Labor Day morning, ripping into the press and renewing his familiar chant of “fake news.”

He likely was set off by a scathing article in The Washington Post, which said his “lost summer” was seen by many as notable for “incompetence and intolerance.”

The Post’s Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker wrote about Trump’s summer, which included attacks on four congresswomen of color, calling Baltimore “rat and rodent infested,” and other divisive comments. They also pointed out economic troubles, a trade war with China and Trump’s frustration over media coverage of the G7 summit.

Rucker and Parker wrote: “The two months between Independence Day and Labor Day offered a fresh and vivid portrait of the president as seen by Trump’s critics — incompetent, indecisive, intolerant and ineffective.”

This, of course, did not sit well with Trump, who tweeted:

“The Amazon Washington Post did a story that I brought racist attacks against the ‘Squad.’ No, they brought racist attacks against our Nation. All I do is call them out for the horrible things they have said. The Democrats have become the Party of the Squad!”

He also tweeted:

“The LameStream Media has gone totally CRAZY! They write whatever they want, seldom have sources (even though they say they do), never do ‘fact checking’ anymore, and are only looking for the ‘kill.’ They take good news and make it bad. They are now beyond Fake, they are Corrupt.”

And

“The good news is that we are winning. Our real opponent is not the Democrats, or the dwindling number of Republicans that lost their way and got left behind, our primary opponent is the Fake News Media. In the history of our Country, they have never been so bad!”

As CNN’s Brian Stelter wrote, “In other words, just another day for Trump — another outburst at an institution enshrined in the Constitution to keep government honest. Previous presidents mostly tolerated an independent press at home, and proudly championed it as a truly American ideal while abroad.”

While Trump certainly has the right to defend himself, attacking the media the way he does — and saying ridiculous things such as they write whatever they want and don’t have sources or check facts — is not only wrong, it’s irresponsible and dangerous. And should not be sloughed off as just Trump being Trump.

The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman tweeted:

“A Trump adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said weeks ago that the president, whose own approval ratings have stayed upside down, needs voters to feel negatively not just about his opponents but about longstanding institutions.”

“I am a smart aleck”

Radio host Sebastian Gorka, right, speaks with Playboy's Brian Karem, left, after President Donald Trump spoke about the 2020 census in the Rose Garden of the White House, Thursday, July 11, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Appearing on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday, Playboy White House correspondent and CNN commentator Brian Karem admitted he is provocative and a smart aleck, but said that doesn’t mean he should have his White House hard pass suspended after a contentious exchange with conservative radio host Sebastian Gorka in the Rose Garden. Karem is suing the White House over having his pass lifted.

“Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter pushed Karem, saying Karem was trying to provoke Gorka and that his behavior was “clearly unprofessional.”

Karem said there has been far worse exchanges in Rose Garden and that it was the White House that was unprofessional. He added that President Trump has “declared war on the press. This is merely one front in the war against free speech.”

And that’s the way it … was

Journalist Norah O'Donnell in April of 2018. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP)

As “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell pointed out on Twitter, Monday was the 56th anniversary of when Walter Cronkite extended the evening news from 15 to 30 minutes, making it the first network half-hour nightly newscast.

While viewership numbers remain relatively flat from a year ago, it just feels as if the evening nightly news on all networks is on a bit of a resurgence. That resurgence is due in part to O’Donnell taking over the “CBS Evening News” as CBS tries to catch up to NBC and ABC in the ratings. O’Donnell, who took over as anchor and managing editor on July 15, has been strong in her opinions (she was the first anchor to refer to President Trump’s remarks as “racist”) as appeared on the scenes of major stories. She anchored Monday’s evening news from Cocoa Beach, Florida, as part of the network’s coverage of Hurricane Dorian.

Hurricane Dorian coverage

Strong winds from Hurricane Dorian blow the tops of trees and brush while whisking up water from the surface of a canal that leads to the sea, located behind the brush at top, seen from the balcony of a hotel in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Breaking weather news, such as this weekend’s Hurricane Dorian, is one of the topics where television has a distinct advantage over other news outlets, particularly newspapers. True, newspapers have 24-hour-a-day websites. But weather is a visual story and that’s TV’s specialty. Along with video of the storm, there are moving radars and future forecasts that simply play better on TV than anywhere else.

That doesn’t mean newspapers don’t do important work during hurricanes. They do, especially when it comes to helping readers with storm preparation.

Another observation when it comes to dangerous weather: While much of the country might be focused on coverage from national outlets, particularly The Weather Channel and CNN, those who might be in the path of such a storm more often rely on local stations. I know that from first-hand experience. As a resident of Florida for most of the past 35 years, I can tell you that every time a hurricane threatens the state, people want to know how it might personally affect them. The best place to get that information is from local news, not national outlets.

Finally: Hurricane Dorian coverage was unlike many storms because almost all reporters were stationed along the east coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, where there wasn’t much to report. There, at least for now, the weather was not dangerous as the storm hovered over the Bahamas — where there were virtually no reporters.

In with the new

The old Vindicator — the newspaper in Youngstown, Ohio — printed its final edition on Saturday after 150 years. The new Vindy debuted on Sunday. But it’s not quite the same.

The new edition is produced by The Tribune Chronicle, an Ogden paper in nearby Warren, Ohio. The Chronicle acquired The Vindicator’s subscription list, masthead and Vindy.com domain. Most of The Vindicator’s former staff was not retained, but some were kept, including politics and government reporter David Skolnick, crime and local government reporter Ed Runyan, regional editor Tom Wills and several page designers and sportswriters.

In its greeting to readers, the new Vindicator mapped out its goals, which will include covering Mahoning County government and local sports.

The new Vindicator told readers, “You have our sincere promise to consistently strive to produce this newspaper with good journalism, interesting articles, complete local sports coverage and entertaining features, and over time, we hope we will gain your complete trust.”

Hot type

Just to wrap up (I hope) this exhausting story, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens seemed to compare being referred to as a bed bug to the Nazis’ persecution of Jews during the Holocaust. If Stephens was looking for support or sympathy, he didn’t get it, as The Washington Post’s Hannah Knowles reports.

Prince’s autobiography is due out next month. The writer, Dan Piepenbring, who collaborated with the music legend, tells the fascinating story in The New Yorker of meeting Prince and how the project came together.

The NFL starts for real this week. For The Undefeated, Jason Reid writes “Welcome to the Year of the Black Quarterback.”

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

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