July 12, 2021

Maria Bartiromo’s transformation from once-respected journalist to full-blown Donald Trump sympathizer appears complete — not that we didn’t already have evidence of that well before now. Still, the change has been so zealous that it feels like the kind of heel turn you see in professional wrestling.

The latest: Bartiromo once again interviewed Trump on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.” Trump continued to push his baseless assertions of a “rigged” election with absolutely no pushback from Bartiromo. In fact, Bartiromo even egged on Trump by bringing up a story from a conservative site, the Federalist, that questioned the presidential election results in Georgia. She also teed up the former president about what was going on in Arizona even though the 2020 election is well over and done.

That wasn’t all. Bartiromo and Trump also talked about the Jan. 6 insurrection. At one point, Trump said, “There was such love at that rally, you had over a million people, they were there for one reason, the rigged election, they felt the election was rigged. That’s why they were there and they were peaceful people, these were great people, the crowd was unbelievable and I mentioned the word love, the love in the air, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Peaceful people? Great people? Love?

Again, Bartiromo never pushed back.

Bartiromo talked about Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed while among a mob trying to force their way through a barricaded door inside the Capitol building. Bartiromo called Babbitt a “wonderful woman” who “went to peaceful protest.”

As Trump went on and on about wanting to know who shot Babbitt, Bartiromo then started speculating about who it might have been, saying, “There is speculation that this was the security detail and a leading member of Congress security detail, a Democrat. What can you tell us in terms of who shot Ashli Babbitt? What do you know, Mr. President?”

Bartiromo then added, “I want you to know that my team reached out to Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office to check on what he may know about who shot Ashli Babbitt. We have not heard back from Chuck Schumer’s office.”

Wait, what? Was Bartiromo suggesting that it was someone associated with Schumer?

While Bartiromo’s unwavering support of Trump, regardless of the facts, is nothing new, it remains startling and, frankly, disheartening every time we witness how a once-solid reporter has turned her back on her journalistic principles and is now known for being a Trump sycophant instead of a serious journalist digging for the truth.

For the entire interview, click here and go to the 11-minute mark.

‘It’s horrifying’

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas over the weekend, some of the crowd cheered when conservative author Alex Berenson said, “The government was hoping that they could sort of sucker 90% of the population into getting vaccinated. And it isn’t happening.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked about that during an appearance on Sunday’s “State of the Union” on CNN. Fauci told host Jake Tapper, “It’s horrifying. I mean, they are cheering about someone saying that it’s a good thing for people not to try and save their lives.”

He added, “I mean, if you just unpack that for a second, Jake, it’s almost frightening to say, ‘Hey, guess what, we don’t want you to do something to save your life.’ Yay. Everybody starts screaming and clapping. I just don’t get that. I don’t think that anybody who is thinking clearly can get that. What is that all about? I don’t understand that, Jake.”

In the same interview, Fauci said Americans who are fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time.

“There’s a lot of work going on to examine this in real time to see if we might need a boost,” Fauci said. “But right now, given the data that the CDC and the FDA has, they don’t feel that we need to tell people right now you need to be boosted.”

Trump speaks

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Donald Trump spoke at CPAC on Sunday. Fox News carried the speech live. CNN aired portions of Trump’s comments and had a report from Dallas, but moved on to other stories while Trump was still speaking. MSNBC did not air it.

A gold-medal problem

Even though it’s a year later than planned, it’s still hard to believe we are less than two weeks away from the start of the Tokyo Olympics. And many believe they shouldn’t be held at all, not with a state of emergency in Japan because of COVID-19.

Mike Wise, a former Washington Post sports columnist, writes in an opinion piece for the Post that it’s “one of the most brazen, hubris-over-humanity cash grabs in modern sports history.”

Wise writes, “The International Olympic Committee gets the gold for greed, NBC Universal earns silver and Japanese Olympic organizers win bronze. Their prioritization of financial windfall over a public health crisis will be an enduring storyline of these pandemic-scarred Games.”

With spectators now barred from attending the Games, it has truly become a made-for-TV event. I don’t want to give away too much of Wise’s column, but he accurately points out just how much money is at stake and how that has taken precedence over the health of so many.

By the way, following his victory at Wimbledon on Sunday, tennis star Novak Djokovic said he is now reconsidering whether or not he will play at the Olympics.

“I’ll have to think about it,” Djokovic told reporters. “My plan was always to go to Olympic Games. But right now I’m a little bit divided. It’s kind of 50-50 because of what I heard in the last couple days.”

Twitter handle of the day

The Tampa Bay Times’ Twitter account has a new name for the moment. It’s now called “Champa Bay Times.” The temporary name change commemorated all the championships that Tampa Bay sports teams have won in the past year.

Last week, the Tampa Bay Lightning won its second consecutive Stanley Cup. In between those two championships, the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Bucs won the Super Bowl and the Tampa Bay Rays played in the World Series, where they lost in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Space man

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, left, sprays champagne to crew member Beth Moses while celebrating their flight to space from Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, N.M. on Sunday. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

I love this lede from The New York Times’ Kenneth Chang: “Soaring more than 50 miles into the hot, glaringly bright skies above New Mexico, Richard Branson at last fulfilled a dream that took decades to realize: He can now call himself an astronaut.”

Branson and five others, in a rocket plane from Virgin Galactic, went to the edge of space and returned Sunday in the historic flight.

Here’s more on Branson’s flight:

A reliable anchor

That quote from Fisher just above came during an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter. Which brings me to this point: Branson’s flight happened Sunday morning during what should have been Stelter’s “Reliable Sources” show about the media. Instead, Stelter’s show turned into a breaking news show. Stelter is not a news anchor. Yet, despite that and the expectation (and preparation) that he was about to host a media show, Stelter anchored the Branson coverage deftly with no commercial breaks, skillfully and intelligently pivoting to several guests. A job well done.

Media tidbits

(Courtesy: NBC News)

  • This week, NBC News will focus on the future of cannabis in America. The series called “Red, White & Green” will feature reporting across the “Today” show, the “NBC Nightly News,”, MSNBC and NBC News NOW.
  • Here are two recent pieces I really enjoyed from my Poynter colleagues and I link to them here in case you missed them. The first is from Kristen Hare, who caught up with NC Policy Watch’s Joe Killian — the reporter who was all over the Nikole Hannah-Jones/University of North Carolina story. The other was from Jaden Edison in Poynter’s “Some Personal News” series with “He was the first college football writer for That didn’t save his job.”
  • Quick thought: ESPN’s coverage of the 2020 UEFA European Championship and Italy’s victory over England in penalty kicks on Sunday was superb. From the pregame coverage to the game broadcast to the post-match analysis and reaction was outstanding, surely pleasing soccer diehards and casual sports fans alike. In fact, the entire tournament was well-covered by ESPN. Rece Davis, best known as ESPN’s college football host, anchored the coverage well.
  • CNN’s new series “History of the Sitcom” debuted Sunday. Check it out if you get a chance. Good stuff.

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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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