It’s time for President Trump to talk to a network other than Fox News

A long interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts or CBS’s Gayle King  about race, the coronavirus and the economy is just what Americans need.

June 19, 2020
Category: Newsletters

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President Donald Trump did an interview with The Wall Street Journal this week and, unprompted, talked about his now-infamous slow walk down the ramp after his West Point commencement speech. He said the ramp was “long and steep and slippery” and he wanted to be cautious because he was wearing shoes with leather soles.

Interesting, but here’s his comment that I found to be especially notable:

“I made Juneteenth very famous. It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.”

I’m pretty sure people heard of Juneteenth before Trump.

This brings up a thought about Trump and interviews. Will he ever sit down for an extensive interview with one of the major networks again?

The Wall Street Journal, while occasionally leaning somewhat conservative, is most certainly a legitimate and respectable news outlet. So it’s good to see Trump doing an interview with it. But he also did an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Wednesday.

Hannity is not a legitimate and respectable news source. He’s a pundit. He’s a supporter of the president. At times, he is even an adviser to the president. We should all know what we’re getting into when Hannity interviews Trump.

CNN’s Chris Cillizza laid out “The 37 Most Shocking Lines from Donald Trump’s ‘Interview’ with Sean Hannity.” (Notice how Cillizza put “interview” in quote marks.) Among some of Trump’s lines:

He referred to coronavirus as the “Chinese plague.” He said police are “under siege.” He said Joe Biden will abolish the police, even though Biden is on the record as saying he is against defunding the police. He said Democrats want to get rid of the Second Amendment.

About the police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, Trump said, “I thought it was a terrible situation, but you can’t resist a police officer. And if you have a disagreement, you have to take it up after the fact. It was a very sad, very, very sad thing.” And he said coronavirus was “fading away.”

On and on he went, pretty much unchecked by Hannity. Again, that’s not a surprise. If you hold Hannity to the same standard that you’re going to hold ABC’s David Muir or NBC’s Lester Holt, for example, you’re being foolish.

Trump also did an interview recently with Fox News’ Harris Faulkner, who did better than Hannity at asking decent questions.

Still, it would be a welcome sight to see the president sit down with someone from one of the major networks for an extensive interview. He was interviewed by ABC “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir on May 5. But that was well before the death of George Floyd and the protests and all that has happened in the past seven weeks regarding the coronavirus. It was also very short.

Rallies and interviews with Fox News are not enough at this time, but that’s where you’re most likely to see Trump. CBS News’ White House correspondent Mark Knoller added up Trump’s interviews since he became president, and by his count, Trump has done 19 interviews with Hannity and 86 with Fox News. He has done eight with NBC/CNBC, six with ABC and five with CBS. He has done none with CNN.

A long interview — say, an hour — with ABC’s Robin Roberts or CBS’s Gayle King to have a conversation (not unchecked rambling) about race, the coronavirus and the economy is just what Americans need to understand fully what the president of the United States is thinking during one of the most important moments in the history of this country.

First the Post …

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan sent out a memo to staff on Thursday to talk about the Post’s desire to build a stronger culture of diversity and equality. Most notably, Ryan announced the Post will add more than a dozen positions to the newsroom. (Check out this tweet from New York Times media columnist Ben Smith for the full memo.)

The new hires will include a managing editor for diversity and inclusion. This position will sit in on story meetings, as well as review the Post’s coverage on sensitive topics, including race.

The other additions include an “America desk editor,” who will direct race coverage; a “Race in America” writer; a writer on America and multiculturalism; an additional writer for the “About Us” newsletter; a national security writer; a criminal justice writer; an additional writer for the Style section who will cover cultural manifestations of an America that is changing demographically; a climate and environmental writer; and a health and science writer.

All of these additions will strongly consider and include race in their work. The Post also wants to add a photojournalist with “experience in coverage of race and identity.”

The Post will also make additions to human resources, including the hiring of a diversity and inclusion director. It also will launch “unconscious bias training,” which will be required for all editors and managers.

And then the Times …

The New York Times also sent out a memo to staff from publisher A.G. Sulzberger, executive editor Dean Baquet, CEO Mark Thompson and chief operating officer Meredith Kopit Levien. The memo, which you can read in this Ben Smith tweet, was an update on plans to make the Times a more “diverse, equitable and inclusive company.” The letter said that they have heard from employees of color who feel they are not sufficiently a part of the decision-making process at the Times. The Times then announced plans to begin working with those inside and outside the company to improve this situation.

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One more Post item

The Post announced Thursday that it will host a weekly event series called “Race in America.” The Post described it as “examining the current movement to end systemic racism and police brutality and looking more broadly at how race and identity affect the lives of people of color related to health care, education, housing, work, and more.” Check out washingtonpostlive.com for schedule details.

Colin Kaepernick’s new deal

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick last November. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland, File)

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, at the center of the protests for racial justice and against police brutality since kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, is joining Medium’s board of directors. In addition, Medium will partner with Kaepernick Publishing to create featured content focused on race and civil rights in America.

Medium CEO Ev Williams said Medium is “honored” to have Kaepernick.

In a statement, Kaepernick, who will contribute by writing editorials and interviewing leaders, activists and athletes, said, “I am excited for Kaepernick Publishing to partner with Medium to continue to elevate Black voices in the news and publishing industry. I also look forward to creating new opportunities and avenues for Black writers and creators with my new role as a board member.”

We’re also waiting to see if an NFL team brings Kaepernick in as a quarterback after shamefully blackballing him from the league after his peaceful protests. Coming back would not be easy, not after sitting out three seasons because of NFL owners who were more worried about fan reactions and their bottom line than bringing in a quarterback who deserved to be in the league.

Really Hard Knocks

Wait, HBO and the NFL are still going through with “Hard Knocks?” That’s the show that follows an NFL team with a deeply in-depth and behind-the-scenes look at training camp. The answer is yes, HBO and NFL Films have a goal to still do the show, this time following two teams: the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers.

We’re not even sure the NFL is going to have a season, let alone a training camp. Yet, the first episode of the typically five-episode series is scheduled for Aug. 11.

But, as The Washington Post’s Ben Strauss and Matt Bonesteel write, “… if the teams and the production staffs can pull it off, fans could be in for some compelling television, from how the teams practice and handle safety protocols related to the coronavirus, to how they discuss the ongoing conversation about racial injustice around the country.

Media tidbits

  • Employees of Pitchfork, the influential music website, staged a four-hour virtual walkout on Thursday to protest what they say are anti-union initiatives taken by the publication and its parent company Condé Nast. The site published no articles during that time, and posted nothing on social media. This all comes after senior editor Stacey Anderson, the head of Pitchfork’s editorial union, was laid off. The Daily Beast’s Maxwell Tani has more details.
  • The Los Angeles Times has launched a new weekly newsletter that explores the outdoors. “The Wild” offers tips to navigate Southern California’s best beaches, trails, parks, deserts, forests and mountains and will be penned by assistant travel editor Mary Forgione. I bring it up here for two reasons: to show that newsletters continue to be a popular way for outlets to reach readers and because outdoors coverage seems to be getting more attention from news organizations across the country.
  • The Hollywood Reporter’s Jeremy Barr reported Thursday that Fox News sent out a memo to employees reminding them to wear masks at work. The memo said, “We’d like to remind all employees to also don a face covering in Fox News Media shared spaces, particularly when you’re not at a socially distanced workstation.” Let’s see if that philosophy carries over to comments made on the air about mask-wearing for the general public.
  • John Bolton will be interviewed by Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC next Thursday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Bolton’s explosive book, “The Room Where It Happened” is due out next week, although advance copies have already divulged some of the details.
  • Speaking of Bolton, his book will be one of the main topics on “Washington Week” tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern on most PBS stations. Guests scheduled to join moderator Robert Costa include Yamiche Alcindor of “PBS NewsHour,” Geoff Bennett of NBC News, Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post and Susan Page of USA Today. The panel also will discuss the two major Supreme Court rulings this week.
  • Paul Bascobert is out as operating CEO of Gannett. Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds has the story.

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

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