It’s media-bashing galore, plus the Boston Globe’s exciting new number and good news for the WNBA

May 21, 2019

This is Poynter’s daily newsletter. To subscribe for Monday-Friday email inbox delivery, click here.

May 21, 2019

Good Tuesday morning. I start today with some serious media bashing. There’s a new book and some really old rhetoric, neither of which are very kind to the media. Nor is a video game, which actually asked players to kill a journalist.

But it’s not all bad. One sports website, The Athletic, is expanding its coverage in a diverse way, the Boston Globe makes a big step and there’s lots to digest with Fox News and the Democrats.

‘Ideologically monolithic’

A new book by conservative radio and TV personality Mark Levin lodges serious accusations against today’s mainstream media.


Radio host Mark Levin speaks during the leadership forum at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in 2014 in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Mark Levin, the conservative TV and radio host, has a new book coming out today and it’s already No. 1 on Amazon’s best-seller list, knocking Howard Stern’s book from the top slot. “Unfreedom of the Press” is not a very flattering take on the media. Just check out the Amazon description:

“ … a groundbreaking and enlightening book that shows how the great tradition of the American free press has degenerated into a standardless profession that has squandered the faith and trust of the American public, not through the actions of government officials, but through its own abandonment of reportorial integrity and objective journalism.”

During a special edition of “Life, Liberty & Levin” on Fox News, Levin told Fox News colleague Pete Hegseth that the founding fathers wouldn’t think much of today’s press.

“I think they would be astonished at how monolithic … it is ideologically monolithic,” Levin said. “And I don’t think there’s any question about that. You cannot find me a study or survey that says otherwise.”

Second verse, same as the first

Trump continues to ramp up his rhetoric against the press.

President Donald Trump continued his attacks on the media Monday. In a series of tweets that started at 6:20 a.m., Trump criticized the media, apparently because he wasn’t happy with a New York Times story that said anti-money laundering specialists with Deutsche Bank flagged transactions involving the president and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Trump predicted the Times would eventually cease to exist and then sent out a tweet that echoed a message he has been sending out since he was elected:

“The Mainstream Media has never been as corrupt and deranged as it is today. FAKE NEWS is actually the biggest story of all and is the true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE! That’s why they refuse to cover the REAL Russia Hoax. But the American people are wise to what is going on …”

 

To Fox or not to Fox?

Despite some Democratic candidates’ unwillingness to participate, others get good viewership numbers for Fox News town halls.


Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg answers a question during a Fox News town hall May 19 in Claremont, New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

One of the interesting debates early in the race to win the Democratic nomination for president is whether or not candidates should do town halls on Fox News. Several candidates have agreed to do them, but Elizabeth Warren has refused and Kamala Harris might do the same.

Pete Buttigieg is the latest to go on Fox News, and his town hall Sunday night drew 1.1 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. That’s about a 22 percent increase compared to regular programming during that time. While Buttigieg was on Fox News, MSNBC had 621,000 viewers and CNN had 447,000.

According to The Hill’s Joe Concha, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ town hall on Fox News last month drew nearly 2.6 million viewers. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar’s town hall on Fox News attracted 1.6 million viewers. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is next up on Fox News on June 2.

 

Back in the spotlight again

A data analysis reveals that Joe Biden is getting the most airtime in a crowded Democratic field.


Former vice president and current presidential hopeful Joe Biden. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Joe Biden continues to get the lion’s share of Democratic nominee coverage on the cable news networks, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Dhrumil Mehta. Biden was the clear winner in a data analysis that examined how often each Democratic candidate was mentioned each week in news programming on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC (counted by the number of 15-second clips that include each person’s full name).

There were 1,715 clips of Biden during the week of May 12. Bernie Sanders was next with 530, followed by Elizabeth Warren (358), Kamala Harris (343) and Pete Buttigieg (277). The previous week yielded the same order.

 

Player One was not ready

After a HuffPost investigation and consumer complaints, a gaming company removed the ‘Sniper 3D Assassin’ level.

 

Last week, New York Times journalist Jamal Jordan tweeted that he was playing an iPad shooting game with his 10-year-old nephew when the game gave him an unusual and disturbing assignment: kill a journalist. The goal was to make the journalist “famous in a different way.”

The game, “Sniper 3D Assassin” was featured on Apple devices and the gaming platform Steam. It was free to play and could also be accessed through Amazon, Google and Microsoft app stores.

After HuffPost saw Jordan’s tweet and began poking around, that level in the game (called “Breaking News”) was eliminated by the developing company TFG Co. Michael Mac-Vicar, the chief technology officer for TFG, said in a statement to HuffPost, “Our game ‘Sniper 3D Assassin’ is fictional and is intended for mature audiences. At TFG, we work to create games that bring fun and entertainment to users all around the world. As such, we take feedback from our players very seriously. After listening to our community today, we have decided to remove the mission ‘Breaking News’ from the game.”

 

A first look at soon-to-be familiar faces

NBC News announced its 2020 election embed team.


Courtesy NBC News

NBC News announced Monday its 2020 class of campaign embeds who will be deployed throughout the country to report on all aspects of the presidential election. The journalists will start by covering the Democratic primary field and will work on such shows “Today,” “Nightly News,” and “Meet the Press,” as well as on all of NBC’s television and streaming stations. The embeds are: Maura Barrett, Micki Fahner, Amanda Golden, Gary Grumbach, Jordan Jackson, Julia Jester, Ben Pu, Marianna Sotomayor, Deepa Shivaram and Priscilla Thompson. The team includes eight women and several people of color.

“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, who helps oversee the embed program, told Politico’s Michael Calderone, “We have the 10 best people here, regardless of what they look like and where they came from.”

But, he added, “I think if you don’t look like 21st century America then you can’t cover American politics very well.”

 

Tipping the scales

The Boston Globe is the first metro paper reported to see digital subscriptions outpace print circulation.

 

For this item, I turn it over to Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds:

The Boston Globe has become the first metro newspaper for which paid digital subscriptions outnumber weekday print circulation numbers. Don Seiffert of the Boston Business Journal reports that paid digital is now above 110,000 and print circulation sits right around 100,000. National/international sites like nytimes.com and washingtonpost.com have had more digital than print subscriptions for several years but only a few metros boast digital subscription numbers as high as 50,000. It’s a key strategic focus as the organizations look for audience revenue to replace falling print advertising revenue.

 

All the right moves

The Athletic announced it will add 14 beat writers to cover the WNBA.


Atlanta Dream’s Alex Bentley is pressured by New York Liberty’s Amanda Zahui B. of Sweden during a preseason WNBA game. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Kudos to The Athletic. The subscription-based sports website that provides ad-free content announced Monday that it has assigned 14 writers to cover each of the 12 teams in the WNBA — the women’s professional basketball league. Two of the writers will write league-wide features. The Athletic already has staffers covering every team in the four major North American sports leagues, as well as writers covering many college athletic programs.

In the announcement, The Athletic’s WNBA editor Hannah Withiam wrote, “In my mind, the WNBA has always existed alongside the men’s leagues, etched into the fabric of American pro sports. So today carries special meaning for me.”

Also of note: All 14 of the WNBA writers for The Athletic are women.

Hot type

A curated list of great journalism and intriguing media.


In this 2009 file photo, “This Old House” master carpenter Norm Abram, left, and homeowner Karen Shen rehearse a segment. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)

Writing for The Atlantic, Margaret Tucker looks at the the rare home improvement show, which happens to be celebrating 40 years on the air, that spotlights skilled workers: PBS’s “This Old House.”

Los Angeles County juvenile halls are so chaotic, officers are afraid to go to work. Matt Stiles has the disturbing report for the Los Angeles Times.

“Game of Thrones” came to an end Sunday night. Now what? CNN’s Lisa Respers France has your next steps.

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

Upcoming Poynter training:

Want to get this briefing in your inbox? Sign up here.

Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.