January 10, 2020

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Where America gets its news

What a week.

With tensions escalating and then possibly de-escalating between the United States and Iran, media coverage has tried to keep pace while anticipating what might happen next.

What’s always interesting during times of major stories is where we go for our news.

Many looking for viewpoints they share turn to the voices they always turn to — Fox News, CNN, MSNBC. I wrote on Thursday that the websites of Fox News and CNN had among their biggest traffic days ever on Tuesday after Iran attacked U.S. targets in Iraq. In fact, I was told by a CNN spokesperson that two of CNN’s all-time busiest five traffic days were this week.

I’ve heard from those who believe places such as PBS and NPR are go-to news sources for analysis that is restrained when it comes to political leanings.

Many still look to major network news.

I’ve heard from folks who want no American political spin, so they have looked to the BBC for information and, in particular, perspective.

As a news consumer like you, I’m looking more for what this all means. I’m looking for history and perspective and nuance. I’m looking for reports with deep sources. I’m looking for stories with information I can trust.

And so I find myself constantly turning throughout the day to two places: The New York Times and The Washington Post.

It’s not as if the Times and Post are alone in superb reporting. And it’s not as if the Times and Post are always perfect.

But for an all-encompassing, well-sourced, in-depth place for news, analysis and perspective, the Times and Post are destinations.

Take Thursday. The Times quickly obtained and verified a tape of a Ukranian plane being hit by a missile moments after taking off in Tehran and then reporting that the U.S. believed Iran shot the plane down by mistake. Also on the Times website, a mesmerizing report of what it was like inside the tense White House as the U.S. targets in Iraq were about to be attacked. That’s just a small bit of what the Times was doing on one day.

Over at the Post, not only did it report on the plane struck down, but there was analysis on the confusion of justifying why Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani was killed as well as another think-piece on how U.S.-Iran relations from 1979 still haunt the United States. Again, this is just a sliver of what was being done.

There is terrific work being done by lots of media outlets. But to see this kind of journalism in one place — whether that one place is the Times or Post — is impressive.

Most of us already know the Times and Post are elite places. In times like these, they remind us what makes them so special.

This story fits like a glove

Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) pulls in the game winning touchdown pass over New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams (26) during overtime of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, in New Orleans. The Vikings won 26-20. (AP Photo/Brett Duke)

Here’s a media story with a disappointing start, but a happy ending.

Last Sunday, Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph caught the winning touchdown in overtime to send the Vikings past the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the NFL playoffs. Rudolph claims a member of the media asked him in the locker room after the game for his gloves so they could then be used for a charity benefit. Rudolph not only agreed, but signed the gloves.

First off, that should have never happened. No media member should ask a player for anything, even for a charity event. But it gets worse. The gloves were sold on eBay for $375.

Rudolph later clarified that the person who asked him for the gloves was not a local reporter from Minnesota or a national reporter that he was familiar with. In fact, it might not have even been a member of the media, but someone who managed to get a locker room pass.

“The locker room was a zoo,” Rudolph said.

Now for the rest of the story. The gloves were purchased on eBay by a Vikings fan named Jason King. When King learned of the controversy, he reached out to Rudolph and offered to send the gloves to the charity of Rudolph’s choice. So King, at Rudolph’s directive, sent the gloves to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. Rudolph said he will send King the gloves he wears in this weekend’s playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.

For more details, check out Courtney Cronin’s story on

She said what?

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders listens to a question during a press briefing at the White House, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders gave a head-scratching comment during an interview on Thursday’s “Fox & Friends.” Talking about the possibility of war between the U.S. and Iran, Sanders was asked by “Fox & Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt why “is the House putting up this resolution to try to limit the president’s powers?”

Sanders said, “I can’t think of anything dumber than allowing Congress to take over our foreign policy. … The last thing I want to do is see them take power away from President Trump and put into their own hands.”

More disappointing, although not surprising, is that none of the “Fox & Friends” co-hosts pushed back to remind Sanders that U.S. Constitution specifically gives Congress the power to authorize war.

Republican-turned-Independent Congressman Justin Amash from Michigan tweeted:

“Sarah Sanders can’t think of anything dumber than the Constitution.”

You look familiar

This is a coincidence, but it’s awesome. Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders will be a guest on this morning’s “Today” show. Also appearing? Comedian Larry David, who impersonates Sanders regularly on “Saturday Night Live.” David is appearing to promote the new season of his HBO show, “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

They have to get these two together, no?

Happy birthday

“CBS This Morning” co-hosts Anthony Mason, Gayle King and Tony Dokoupil celebrate the show’s eighth anniversary on Thursday. (Photo: courtesy of CBS News.)

“CBS This Morning” celebrated its eighth birthday on Thursday. Co-host Gayle King wore the same yellow and white dress that she wore on the show’s premiere on Jan. 9, 2012. And it is the same dress she has worn on every anniversary of the show.

“It’s like you’re going to school for the first day and you gotta pick out a very special dress,” King said. “I only wear it here and I only wear it on this day. And I can still fit into it, I’m proud to say.”

By the way, is King the best morning news show host on TV? I’d make that argument following her no-nonsense interviews in the past with the likes of R. Kelly, the four Congresswomen known as “The Squad,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and many more. She also is paid like a top TV anchor, reportedly signing a deal last year that is paying her $11 million annually.

He huffs and he puffs

San Francisco Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff warms up before Game 2 of the National League division baseball series against the Cincinnati Reds in San Francisco, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Before coming to Poynter a little more than a year ago, I spent 30-plus years as a sportswriter. Over that time, I covered hundreds, maybe thousands, of athletes. One of them was baseball player Aubrey Huff, a pretty decent talent who played for several teams and won two World Series with the San Francisco Giants. I covered him for a couple of seasons on a daily basis when he played for the Tampa Bay Rays and I worked for the Tampa Bay Times.

I can honestly say that of all the athletes I’ve ever covered, there was no one I disliked more and respected less than Huff. He was arrogant, miserable and disagreeable, especially to those he felt were beneath him.

These days, he has gone on to become something of a Twitter troll, often provoking folks with controversial political views. So be sure to check out a story by The Daily Beast’s Robert Silverman, who reached out to Huff about his latest Twitter dustup.

Comings and goings

A splashy hire and a big departure at ESPN.

Instagram star and House of Highlights founder Omar Raja joined ESPN as a digital and social content commentator. He is expected to be the leading voice behind ESPN’s “SportsCenter” Instagram account. Brian Steinberg wrote about Raja and ESPN for Variety.

But, later in the day in a surprise announcement on Twitter, on-air personality Cari Champion said she was leaving ESPN.

“After consulting with mentors, family and friends, I have come to the decision that it’s time to leave ESPN. Over the past 7 years, I’ve grown from hosting First Take to having my own show on SportsCenter, and experiencing so much more in between.”

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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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