September 30, 2019

The Poynter Report is our daily media newsletter. To have it delivered to your inbox Monday-Friday, click here.

Good morning. It was a busy Sunday morning on the news shows, including one of the greatest actors of all time giving a speech that sounded right out of “Goodfellas.” But let’s start with Rudy.

The cost of Giuliani’s must-see TV

Joe Biden doesn’t want Rudy Giuliani going on TV — at least not to talk about Biden and the Ukraine. Advisers for the Democratic presidential candidate sent a letter to the top executives and anchors at ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News and NBC, urging them to not book Giuliani on their networks.

Biden advisers Anita Dunn and Kate Bedingfield, according to The Daily Beast, wrote, “We are writing today with grave concern that you continue to book Rudy Giuliani on your air to spread false, debunked conspiracy theories on behalf of Donald Trump. … Giving Rudy Giuliani valuable time on your air to push these lies in the first place is a disservice to your audience and a disservice to journalism.”

Certainly, Biden’s camp has the right to make such a request, although no network should be listening to booking advice from someone with a stake in the political game.

However, this is a legitimate question: Should networks invite Giuliani on the air, considering that interviews with him often fly off the rails with contradictions, misleading statements and outright lies? Or is the fact that he speaks on behalf of President Donald Trump and is a central figure in the Ukraine story enough reason to book him?

Both CBS’s “Face the Nation” and ABC’s “This Week” had Giuliani on Sunday. And you can either watch the interview on “Face the Nation” or read the transcript to see just how confusing and chaotic a Giuliani interview can be. It devolves into Giuliani and a host shouting or talking over one another, mostly because a host is pushing back against something Giuliani said.

New York University professor and media observer Jay Rosen tweeted Sunday:

“You can try to make things clear for viewers and inform the public. Or you can interview Giuliani. You cannot do both. Everyone in TV news knows this. And they choose. The confusion he spreads is strategic for him and a defeat for them, for it is impossible to resolve on air.”

There are two reasons why networks invite Giuliani on. One, it’s controversial and provocative TV, meaning people will watch, and after all, these shows are fighting for eyeballs. While that’s not commendable, it’s at least understandable.

The other reason is far more disturbing. Networks invite guests like Giuliani in the name of fairness — to show they are giving a platform to all sides. That’s fine, as long as those guests are offering a good faith interview with truthful, legitimate answers. Certainly, most guests on the political shows will spin, deflect and pivot. That’s expected and understood while watching the interview. But the idea of inviting a guest on to represent both sides is irresponsible and dangerous if that guest lies, and the shows are aware that such guests typically lie.

For the record, Giuliani responded on Twitter on Sunday night to Biden’s request of the networks, accusing Biden of having the “Dem media trying to destroy my reputation and silence me!”

If you can’t say something nice …  

Robert DeNiro. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP)

Robert DeNiro appeared on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday to talk shop, but his appearance looked like a scene right out of “Goodfellas.”

The award-winning actor turned it into an R-rated show when he dropped two F-bombs in response to host Brian Stelter’s questions about those who criticize DeNiro’s activism.

As the crew reacted to DeNiro’s cursing, DeNiro said, “Sorry … sorry.” Stelter said, “This is cable, so it’s not an FCC violation, but it is still a Sunday morning.”

DeNiro then said, “We are at a moment in our lives in this country where this guy is like a gangster. He has come along and said things, done things … this is terrible. We’re in a terrible situation. And this guy keeps going on and on and on without being stopped.”

Pushing the prince

CBS’s Norah O’Donnell interviews Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Sunday’s “60 Minutes.” (Photo courtesy “60 Minutes”)

CBS’s Norah O’Donnell didn’t mess around. In an interview on “60 Minutes” with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, O’Donnell pushed him on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as Saudi Arabia’s poor treatment of women.

The Crown Prince denied ordering the murder of Khashoggi, calling it a “heinous crime.” He did take “full responsibility” for the murder, saying that’s what a leader does when something happens under his leadership. O’Donnell, however, kept grilling him, asking more than once how he could plead ignorance about the operation to murder Khashoggi.

The Crown Prince said, “Some think that I should know what 3 million people working for the Saudi government do daily? It’s impossible that the 3 million would send their daily reports to the leader or the second highest person in the Saudi government.”

O’Donnell also asked, “What kind of threat is a newspaper columnist to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that he would deserve to be brutally murdered?”

The Crown Prince said, “There is no threat from any journalist. The threat to Saudi Arabia is from such actions against a Saudi journalist. This heinous crime, that took place in the Saudi consulate.”

Wednesday will be the first anniversary of Khashoggi’s murder.

O’Donnell also asked about female activist Loujain Al Hathloul, who has been jailed and reportedly tortured in a Saudi prison for more than a year. The Crown Prince said, “If this is correct, it is very heinous. Islam forbids torture.The Saudi laws forbid torture. Human conscience forbids torture. And I will personally follow up on this matter.”

More from ’60 Minutes’

The venerable CBS news show, which celebrated the start of its 52nd season Sunday night, opened with a big scoop. It said it obtained a letter that indicates the whistleblower in the matter of Trump and the Ukraine is under federal protection because he or she fears for their safety. A half-century on the air and “60 Minutes” is still among the elites of journalism.

Getting the save

I’ve known St. Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriter Derrick Goold for years. Once upon a time, we both covered the National Hockey League, and I sat next to him in press boxes many times. I’ll be sure to sit next to him again if we’re ever in the same press box, not just because he’s a good man and a heck of a sportswriter, but he helps save lives.

On Sunday, Goold, now a baseball writer who covers the St. Louis Cardinals for the Post-Dispatch, performed CPR on a videographer who suffered a heart attack and stroke at the ballpark. Reports are that the videographer is in critical but stable condition at a St. Louis hospital.

Goold is a former lifeguard and Eagle Scout. His wife posted this on Twitter:

“My husband is a dogged, intrepid reporter and an incredible writer. More importantly, @dgoold is also a damn good person, who jumps in to help when and where he is needed. Hoping the gentleman he assisted today makes a full and quick recovery.”

When he was complimented on Twitter, Goold humbly said:

“Thanks, friend. Only tried to do what’s right, as you and so many of my friends would do as well.”

Here’s the story from longtime Post-Dispatch sportswriter Rick Hummel.

Hot type

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

Upcoming Poynter training:

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

Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
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…
Tom Jones

More News

Back to News