A message from our founders, plus Trump’s anti-press strategy and Klay Thompson’s new shoes

July 3, 2019

July 3, 2019

Good morning, and happy Fourth of July. Yes, the Fourth is tomorrow, but this will be Poynter’s last morning newsletter of the week. It will return next Monday, July 8. Have a great holiday weekend, and thanks to all the journalists working to keep their communities informed while much of the rest of the nation plays.

Fourth things first

On this long holiday weekend, we recall the work of some of the nation’s most notable early writers.

Occasionally, I turn the newsletter over to someone else for a single item. That’s the case with today’s first piece, which I’ll turn over the Founding Fathers. You’ve read this before, but this holiday weekend, in these times, it feels like the perfect moment to really take notice of these words again:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

‘A cynical strategy to disqualify the press’

Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron in 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump knows exactly what he’s doing when he uses phrases such as “fake news” and “enemy of the people.” Giving a keynote address at Boston Bar Association’s annual Law Day last week, Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron told an anecdote that gives insight into Trump’s intentions.

According to the Boston Herald, Baron recalled a quote Trump gave to CBS’s Lesley Stahl before the 2016 election when she asked why he attacked the media.

“You know why I do it?” Trump said. “I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.”

Baron told the lawyers in Boston, “That is, in fact, the president’s goal. No one should believe the media if we contradict him. They should believe only one person — him. … There is no mystery as to why this is happening. It is a cynical strategy to disqualify the press as an independent arbiter of fact. The aim is to disqualify other institutions and professions as arbiters of fact, too: the courts, law enforcement, intelligence agencies, historians, even scientists.”

Trump’s strategy might actually work. According to a Hill-Harris X poll, one-third of Americans believe the media is the “enemy of the people.”

No laughing matter

He tried to make a joke. He ended up losing his job. Kevin Dietz, a TV reporter for WDIV-TV in Detroit who has won 15 Michigan Emmy awards, was forced to resign over a comment he made about a black colleague at a reporters’ conference in Houston.

Dietz admitted in a Facebook post that when WDIV staffers posed for a photo, he said, “We are probably going to have to crop the black reporter out of the photo.”

He said it was meant as a comment to acknowledge the challenge the company has had to achieve diversity goals. He said that the black reporter was not offended and even stood up for him in a human resources meeting. He added, “This is a serious subject that I approached through humor.”

WDIV didn’t think it was funny and Dietz was forced to resign. It had no further comment because it said it was a personnel issue. Dietz said, “I regret the fact that it happened, and apologize to anyone I might have offended.”

Don’t get ad, get even

The Indian government has stopped advertising with three major newspaper groups, and the groups say it’s because of their critical news coverage.

The Indian news website The Print reported that the government stopped placing ads with The Times Group, ABP Group and The Hindu prior to the beginning of India’s general elections in April. Reuters reported that about 15% of The Times Group’s advertising comes from the government.

Steven Butler, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Asia program coordinator, said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot claim to be the leader of a democracy if his administration continues to punish news organizations for critical coverage. Withholding advertisements is a suffocating measure and a clear effort to influence editorial decision, and amounts to censorship.”

It’s gotta be the news

The limited edition Klay Thompson shoes. (Courtesy)

If you’re a journalist, your favorite basketball player should be Golden State’s Klay Thompson. For years, Thompson’s habit before games has been to read the newspaper — the actual, hand-held newspaper.

Back in 2017, Thompson told the ESPN NBA show “The Jump”: “I just think, especially my generation, we’re on our phones so much, all the time, even me, I’m a bad culprit of it, that my mom actually suggested this to me. She said, ‘Klay, instead of standing at your phone pregame all the time, why don’t you get a newspaper or a book and read that before a game, try to take your mind off things.’”

Now, he’s celebrating a recent contract (five years for $190 million) by dropping a new Anta shoe that pays homage to his love of reading the newspaper. Wonder who will be more interested in it: basketball players or newspaper journalists?

On Poynter.org:


Hot type

Keith Olbermann. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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

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