June 3, 2021

After a mere 29 days, former President Donald Trump has shut down his blog. Or website. Or whatever you want to call it.

He called it “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump.”

But you can now call it defunct.

The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell and Josh Dawsey wrote, “Upset by reports from The Washington Post and other outlets highlighting its measly readership and concerns that it could detract from a social media platform he wants to launch later this year, Trump ordered his team Tuesday to put the blog out of its misery, advisers said. On its last day, the site received just 1,500 shares or comments on Facebook and Twitter — a staggering drop for someone whose every tweet once garnered hundreds of thousands of reactions.”

Trump senior adviser Jason Miller told CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger, who broke the story, that this version of Trump’s blog will not be returning. Miller added, “It was just auxiliary to the broader efforts we have and are working on. … Hoping to have more information on the broader efforts soon, but I do not have a precise awareness of timing.”

Trump’s site was amateur stuff and provided neither bells nor whistles. It was little more than a hasty pile of press releases that, really, were written as if they were tweets. But readers couldn’t leave comments, or have conversations with others or interact in any way.

For now, it was the only way for Trump to get out whatever random thoughts sprung into his head after being kicked off Facebook and Twitter. Readers could share Trump’s words on social media, but according to the Post, Trump’s supporters “were not racing to share the site on social media.”

Trump will surely spin this as no big deal because, he insists, he is actually ramping up for something bigger and better. Trump and his team have promised that when he unveils his new social media platform, it will be … huuuge. Miller told Fox News in March, “It’s going to completely redefine the game.”

We shall see.

Is Trump in trouble?

Speaking of Trump, should he be worried about the criminal investigation into his business practices?

Appearing on “The View” this week, ABC News chief legal analyst Dan Abrams said, “Those of us in news media always want to try to be careful, about what might happen when it comes to an indictment, but I’ll tell you this: All signs point to a likely indictment. You don’t get a grand jury like this unless they believe they have evidence of a crime. So all the evidence, all the signals are towards a likely indictment of someone, if not more than one person.”

For more, including the clip, check out Marisa Sarnoff’s story on Mediaite (which, by the way, was founded by Abrams).

Baseball announcer makes troublesome remarks

Baseball announcer Bob Brenly, pictured here when he was the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

During Tuesday night’s Major League Baseball game between the New York Mets and Arizona Diamondbacks, the camera was on Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman, who is Black. Diamondbacks TV analyst Bob Brenly, who is white, said, “Pretty sure that’s the same do-rag that Tom Seaver used to wear when he pitched for the Mets.” (Seaver was a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Mets mostly during the 1970s.)

After the game, Stroman tweeted, “Onward and upward…through all adversity and racist undertones. The climb continues through all!”

Mets manager Luis Rojas called Brenly’s comment “very inappropriate” and added, “I was very disappointed when I heard it. If it was like a joke or something, I didn’t get it. That was my initial reaction to it. I think it’s completely inappropriate.”

On Wednesday, Brenly — a former big-league player who managed the Diamondbacks to the World Series championship in 2001 — issued a statement that said, “During last night’s game, I made a poor attempt at humor that was insensitive and wrong. I apologize to Marcus Stroman and have reached out directly to share those thoughts. I have had several conversations with the D-backs and we agree that seeking sensitivity training is an important step so I can continue to learn from my mistakes in order to be better in the future.”

New York NewsGuild revises dues proposal after 100 NYT staffers object

For this item, I turned it over to my Poynter colleague Angela Fu.

The NewsGuild of New York revised its proposal to raise union dues after 100 New York Times staffers signed an email urging their colleagues to vote against it.

The original proposal advocated a permanent increase in dues from 1.3846% to 1.75%. The staffers’ email, tweeted out by In These Times reporter Hamilton Nolan, claimed that “many” at the New York Times would have to pay $400 to $500 more each year, and some could see their dues increase by over $1,000 a year.

Citing concerns from its members, the union then revised its proposal so that the increase in dues would only last three years, and it pushed back the ballot due date to Aug. 16.

The back-and-forth is the latest in an ongoing conflict at the NewsGuild of New York over how the union should fund its recent spate of organizing. In the past few years, the NewsGuild of New York has successfully launched union drives at The New Yorker, Time, Sports Illustrated and Insider, among others. All that organizing has come at a cost, and the union has been running deficits since 2017, Vanity Fair reported last month.

To help raise funds, the NewsGuild of New York proposed its first dues increase in 88 years. Along with temporarily raising the dues rate, the union is trying to permanently eliminate its cap on the collection of dues on income over $140,140 a year.

One issue the union faces is that members do not pay dues until they have secured their first contract. Many of the recently organized newsrooms are in the midst of negotiations, leaving already established units like The New York Times to fund their activities. In their email, The New York Times staff argued the union must find a more sustainable way to raise funds.

“Rather than give the Guild a blank check to spend more of our money, we need to consider a proposal for higher dues in a careful accounting of likely costs and revenues,” the staffers wrote.

In an announcement about its updated proposal, the union stated that the three-year increase in dues would cover them through “a period of deficit spending” while newer units continue to negotiate for a contract.

Sad news

Rick Bonnell, a popular sportswriter who covered the Charlotte Hornets and the NBA for The Charlotte Observer, died suddenly this week. He was 63.

Charlotte Observer sports columnist Scott Fowler tweeted, “We are all so devastated at The Charlotte Observer but I must report that our beloved colleague Rick Bonnell has suddenly passed away. Rick was a Hornets beat-writing legend, a father, a generous colleague. Honestly, I don’t know what we are going to do.”

Former Observer sports columnist Tom Sorenson tweeted, “Rick Bonnell cared. He cared about being a great Charlotte Hornets and NBA writer; that was evident from his work. He also cared about friends, readers, people. He really wanted to be a good guy. And he was. Man, will he be missed.”

The tributes poured in on Twitter all day Wednesday, most talking about Bonnell’s superb career, but also about what a good man he was.

Fowler wrote that the cause of Bonnell’s death wasn’t known, but that Bonnell’s son said it was believed to be from natural causes.

Provocative tweet of the day

In the wake of all the talk about tennis star Naomi Osaka and press conferences came this tweet from ProFootballTalk — a popular website that aggregates stories and offers commentary on the National Football League.

The tweet was, “I propose a one-year experiment for the NFL. Players would not be required to speak after games. I predict that 99 percent of the players would still choose to do so, and that in any event 100 percent of reporters would still have plenty to write and talk about.”

Why would any media outlet propose an experiment that would propose less access?

The site’s founder, Mike Florio, wrote a column that said, “Reporters who cover the NFL have in recent years become more and more sensitive to the mental health of the men who play professional football. As long, that is, as the sensitivity to mental health doesn’t threaten media access to players after every game, no matter how agonizing the outcome.”

Florio’s tweet and column seem to be his attempt to balance the media’s desire for press conferences while addressing concerns about the mental health of athletes. Florio acknowledges that this could mean that journalists lose access to certain players. However, he believes that most athletes will still speak to the media, and either way, journalists will still find a way to cover their beats.

Florio wrote, “Again, I’m not suggesting that there should be no locker-room access. But the players who don’t want to talk shouldn’t have to.”

For more on the Osaka conversation, check out “The Ladies Room” podcast on Deadspin with hosts Jane McManus and Julie DiCaro.

Media tidbits

NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell reporting Wednesday from Turkey. (Courtesy: NBC News)

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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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