Trump’s banner month, plus an online journalism fight and Grisham’s first impression

July 2, 2019
Category: Newsletters

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July 2, 2019

Good Tuesday morning. We start today with a record set by President Donald Trump. It involves the media, and it’s not a good record.

Haters gonna hate, especially last month

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker reported that June 2019 was a banner month for Trump’s anti-press tweets.

Donald Trump’s attacks against the press are getting worse. Or at least more frequent.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker tweeted Monday that the president tweeted negatively about the press 25 of 30 days in June. He posted 55 anti-press tweets  — the most for a single month since December of 2015, a year before he was elected.

That means his attacks on the media in June were the most during his presidency.

His negative tweets in June ranged from ripping into NBC’s audio technical problems during the Democratic debates to calling The New York Times “failing” to his usual “fake news” tweets. He also ripped into Fox News, a network that is generally kind to Trump, for questioning poll results.

According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, since his inauguration in January of 2017, Trump has posted 791 negative tweets about the media in 893 days. Since announcing his candidacy for president in June of 2015, Trump has tweeted negatively about the press 1,537 times in 1,477 days.

These numbers can be looked at two ways. On one hand, maybe the president’s constant droning about “fake news” has numbed Americans to the point they don’t even hear or notice anymore.

Or maybe it’s worse than that. Perhaps his persistent “enemy of the people” talk has undermined the credibility of journalists and their importance to a large segment of his followers.

Either way, it’s worth noting that as we are days away from celebrating the birthday of our independence, we have a president openly hostile — more so than ever — to an institution specifically mentioned and protected in the First Amendment of our Constitution.

A dwindling supply

It has been a rough year for journalism: We’re not even halfway through the year and already 3,000 U.S.-based journalists have been laid off, according to Bloomberg’s Gerry Smith. That’s the most since 2009, when nearly 8,000 were laid off in the first five months. That was a result of the great financial crisis.

Here’s the depressing contradiction: unemployment rates are the lowest they’ve been since 1969, yet journalism jobs continue to dwindle. This year has been marked by major layoffs at places such as Gannett, GateHouse Media, BuzzFeed, Vice News, CNN and others.

Avoiding public Khashoggi questions

President Donald Trump meets with Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on Saturday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Donald Trump’s overseas trip created lots of news, including his historic venture into North Korea. But somewhat lost in all that was a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in which Trump continued to ignore what role the Saudi leader had in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump told reporters that he did bring up the topic privately with the crown prince.

“He’s very angry about it,” Trump said. “He’s very unhappy about it.”

During other parts of the trip, Trump ignored questions about Khashoggi, while also praising the crown prince, calling him a “friend of mine” and thanking him and congratulating him for doing “a spectacular job.”

In the meantime, The Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership ran a full-page ad in the Post on Monday highlighting the 10 most pressing cases of journalists under attack as identified by the One Free Press Coalition. Khashoggi continues to be at the top of that list because his murderers have not been punished.

A good first impression

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

As I mentioned in Monday’s newsletter, new White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham should get kudos for physically pushing North Korean officials out of the way so that American journalists could cover Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Well, a day later, she is getting those kudos.

Robert Gibbs, who served as President Barack Obama’s press secretary, told The New York Times’ Annie Karni that Grisham’s actions were “laudable and heroic.”

“The idea for fighting for that access is quintessentially American,” he said. “It was a great start for her.”

Then again, journalist Soledad O’Brien suggested on Twitter that maybe Grisham was making sure the media was there to chronicle what Trump and his team considered good PR by meeting with the North Korean leader.

A virtual sparring match in Oklahoma

Media fights can be pretty annoying. But let’s be honest, they can be pretty fun, too.

Well, this is kind of a media fight. Here’s the gist:

Oklahoma Watch, a nonprofit that does investigative journalism, recently published a critical story about Epic Charter Schools. This didn’t go over so well with Epic, which assigned two long-time Oklahoma journalists to fact-check the Oklahoma Watch story. Oh, did I mention that those journalists now work for Epic Charter School? Those two men then went through the Oklahoma Watch story line by line and, in an overly written reply, fired back at all the things they said were incorrect about the story.

At one point, they wrote that a sentence in the Oklahoma Watch “contains more fiction than a Steven [sic] King novel” and used the clichéd “Stop the presses” to sarcastically push back on another section.

So you know what happened next, right? Oklahoma Watch answered with its own response to Epic’s response.

These little feuds can fuel egos, but they also can be entertaining to read.

Hot in Miami

Noticias Telemundo’s network studio in Miami. (Photo courtesy of Noticias Telemundo)

When it comes to news, substance beats style. But there’s nothing wrong with style, either. And Noticias Telemundo’s state-of-the-art studio at Telemundo Center in Miami looks so stylish that it just captured two Broadcast Production Awards, including best national set design. The space is 3,700 square feet with 45-foot ceilings, an 11-million-megapixel LED screen and a modular anchor’s desk.

So do all those bells and whistles really matter?

“This award is not just a recognition to a studio set, but also to the way we visually and physically interpreted our team’s dedication and hard work,” Noticias Telemundo executive vice president Luis Fernandez said in a statement. “Noticias Telemundo would like our Latino viewers to know that we offer them the best news content, produced from a great home.”




It’s still hard to believe that the Times-Picayune is as we knew it is gone. Poynter’s Kristen Hare chronicled how some of its journalists said goodbye. She also has some advice over the name of the “new” New Orleans paper.

And, also for Poynter, Samantha Sunne has a breakdown on what those who were laid off are planning to do. Rick Edmonds also wrote about the Advocate’s rise to power, and how the handoff was supposed to work this week.

Hot type

Cars are suspended in hail in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Sunday. Officials in Mexico’s second-largest city say a storm that dumped more than a meter of hail on parts of the metropolitan area damaged hundreds of homes. (Jalisco State Civil Defense Agency via AP)

  • A freak summer storm buries a Mexican city in … ice? The Washington Post has the story and the crazy photos.
  • ProPublica’s explosive story from A.C. Thompson reveals a secret border patrol Facebook group where possible agents, among other insults, made jokes about migrant deaths
  • A man claiming to have been a substitute teacher during a deadly school shooting in Texas in 2018 told of his harrowing ordeal to Time magazine, CNN and The Wall Street Journal. But the Texas Tribune reports that his story of bravery might have been a hoax.
  • Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes allegedly pulled off one of the biggest scams of all time. But get a load of who she’s blaming: The Wall Street Journal journalist who blew the lid off the whole thing.

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

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