July 15, 2019

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July 15, 2019

Good Monday. Today is a big day at CBS News, but let’s start this week by looking back at President Donald Trump’s tweets that caused a storm.

‘Go back … ‘

Cries of racism get louder after a series of weekend tweets directed at U.S. congresswomen from Trump.

It is a new norm for those who cover the White House to spend their weekends writing about something President Donald Trump tweeted. That was the case this weekend when the president, in a series of tweets, said that four liberal Democratic congresswomen feuding with Speaker Nancy Pelosi should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

The tweets were, presumably, directed at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna S. Pressly of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Omar was born in Somalia, but of course is a U.S. citizen. The other three were all born in the United States.

In a tweet, Julie Davis, who covers Congress for The New York Times, wrote:

“This is the same president who spent years claiming Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. & questioned why the U.S. should accept immigrants from what he called “s@$thole” countries.”

Her Times colleague Maggie Haberman, who covers the White House, tweeted:

“Supporters usually say ppl are misunderstanding/taking him out of context and Trump usually leaves himself some kind of out/claims he said something different (with “s—hole” his allies said it was “s—house” hence reports were wrong). This one is pretty direct.”

On CNN’s Reliable Sources, host Brian Stelter called it “straight-up racist.”

After a long pause while staring at the camera, Stelter said, “It’s 2019. We’re two-and-a-half years into the Trump presidency and his racism is becoming more obvious, more frightening. There are millions of Americans — black and brown Americans — who know exactly what he means when he says, ‘Go back to where you came from.’ They’ve heard those words on the schoolyard, behind their backs at work. That kind of racism, that Americans have been fighting against for decades, is coming from the president’s Twitter feed.”

Stelter also said this was not just the president who is pedaling racism.

“The ground has been softened for this stuff from the president by this collection of pro-Trump bloggers, radio hosts, television stars who somehow think it’s acceptable to attack fellow Americans like this,” Stelter said.

When Stelter said “television stars,” he easily could have been referring to Tucker Carlson and other Fox News primetime personalities. Samantha Vinograd, CNN’s national security analyst, said on “Reliable Sources,” “I think the first rule of PSYOP — psychological operations — is to condition your audience. And President Trump, unlike previous U.S. presidents, uses information warfare against the American people rather than against foreign enemies.”

O’Donnell’s big night

Norah O’Donnell this year in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

Today is a big day at CBS News as Norah O’Donnell takes over as anchor of the “CBS Evening News.” Tonight’s debut features interviews with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Caroline Kennedy as CBS launches its coverage of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

ABC’s evening newscast, anchored by David Muir, is atop the leaderboard in viewership, followed closely by “NBC Nightly News” with Lester Holt. CBS is in last place and it’s up to O’Donnell, who also is managing editor, to help revive CBS’s ratings.

Speaking at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast NY last week, O’Donnell said she hopes to be seen as, “The most trusted journalist in America and around the world. That’s my hallmark.”

49 of 50 rapists go free, investigation alleges

Cover of the August issue of The Atlantic. (Courtesy)

The Atlantic’s August cover story, published this morning, is a powerful piece by Barbara Bradley Hagerty. “An Epidemic of Disbelief” is an investigation into what The Atlantic calls serial rapes and the criminal-justice system’s bias against women. According to Hagerty’s piece, about 125,000 rapes are reported in the United States each year.

In 49 of 50 cases, the alleged assailant goes free.

Hagerty spent a year investigating the story and found what she called a “subterranean river of chauvinism” where the fate of a rape case usually depends on the detective’s view of the victim, not the perpetrator. The story also claims that as many as 200,000 rape kits in the United States have been shelved and left untested for decades.

A takedown for Pete’s sake

Pete Buttigieg. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

It might be The New Republic’s biggest controversy since the Stephen Glass fabrications 20 years ago. Last Friday, the magazine published online and then removed a Dale Peck op-ed called “My Mayor Pete Problem,” which referred to Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. Peck called Buttigieg “Mary Pete” and went into graphic detail speculating on his sexual activity and saying he was too sexually promiscuous to make a good president.

On Saturday, TNR’s editor in chief, Win McCormack, tweeted an apology to Buttigieg and TNR’s readers, saying in part that the article was “inappropriate and offensive.”

There’s already fallout. TNR has dropped out of co-hosting a climate forumwith Gizmodo scheduled for September because of the backlash. In a statement, Gizmodo said, “This incident was entirely inconsistent with our values as journalists and with the inclusive atmosphere we intend to foster at the event.” The event will still be held without TNR.

Buttigieg told The Associated Press that he was glad the article was pulled and said, “I don’t think it really reflects the New Republic that I know.”

No news is bad news

A Starbucks sign outside a Starbucks coffee shop in downtown Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

We’ve seen all the depressing surveys and dire numbers, but this might be the most disheartening news about newspapers that we’ve seen in some time: Starting in September, Starbucks will no longer sell newspapers.

Typically, each of the more than 8,600 company-operated shops nationally sells The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and local newspapers. But that will end because of what a Starbucks spokesperson said was a response to “changing customer behavior.” Papers might still be sold at the 6,100 locations in the United States that are non-company operated, such as those in airports and hotels.

Is this a big deal? Well, it’s certainly not good news.

Curtis Huber, the senior director of circulation and audience revenue for The Seattle Times, told his paper that Starbucks and other retailers are “an important channel for news sales and distribution.” He added that Starbucks was among The Seattle Times’ top five retail distributors.

BBC’s piece is graphic — but significant

On June 3, there was a massacre of protestors in the streets of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. More than 300 phone camera users took videos of that massacre, many of whom kept filming even as they were under fire. BBC’s “Africa Eye” compiled the videos, analyzed them and then put them together for a street-level view of the violence, including commentary from those involved.

Warning: the video is graphic and disturbing. But incredibly important.

Hot type

From left, U.S. women’s national soccer team members Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Correction: In Friday’s newsletter, there was a typo that indicated that baseball player Jim Bouton was a flesh-eating Amazonian fish instead of a social outcast. Thanks to the eagle-eyed readers who saw it and took the time to let us know.

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

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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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