Why the Press Didn’t Cover Your Demonstration

An activist can have plenty of reasons to summon his faithful to march in a demonstration. He might call the gathering to petition the government for a redress of grievances. He might want to advertise the size of his community. He might do it to build cadre for the future. But the true aim of the organizers is to attract media attention.

By this measure, the weekend Women’s March, held in multiple cities, did OK, attracting numerous and sizable stories in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and cable TV. But the 2018 coverage did not match that given the 2017 Women’s March, leading some to complain that the press had deliberately marginalized their protest.

Feminist marchers aren’t the only ones to lament low coverage of their demonstration. The conservative Media Research Center groused that ABC, CBS and NBC unfairly allotted three times Continue reading “Why the Press Didn’t Cover Your Demonstration”

Sell the New York Times. Now.

The cult worship of the New York Times commenced not long after that day in 1896 when Adolph S. Ochs of Chattanooga, Tenn., spent a mess of borrowed money to purchase controlling ownership in the respected but failing Republican-tilting paper and appoint himself publisher. To distinguish the Times from the yellow, popular press of the day (the Journal and the World), Ochs plotted a high-brow and high-minded course for his new prize, steering clear of any partisanship. His formula elicited positive press from inside the industry, as the trade journal Fourth Estate immediately caressed the remade paper with this notice: “A glance at the New York Times since it has been in the hands of Adolph S. Ochs is like a gleam of sunlight on a cloudy day. The professional sees at once the handiwork of a fellow artist.”

Such oversized expressions for the Times have continued Continue reading “Sell the New York Times. Now.”

Week 34: The Dossier Strikes Back

The Steele Dossier—the sensational opposition-research document that alleged, among other things, that Donald Trump once performed urinary vandalism on a Moscow hotel-room bed—has just celebrated the first anniversary of its release by BuzzFeed. Now, thanks to the publication of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s interview with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, who commissioned the research, the document has reflowered to daub the press with its perfume once more.

At the beginning of the year, Simpson called for the release of his testimony in a New York Times op-ed, writing, “We’re extremely proud of our work to highlight Mr. Trump’s Russia ties.” Democratic senators Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) seconded him at the beginning of the week, beseeched committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (Iowa) to do just that. They called for GOP attacks on Simpson and dossier author Christopher Steele to stop and for Continue reading “Week 34: The Dossier Strikes Back”

Week 33: Trump Blistered by Bannon’s Inside Job

As cunning as a raccoon, author Michael Wolff walked in the front door of the White House early last year and has returned with a book, Fire and Fury, that cements Donald Trump’s image as a shallow, narcissistic, dim, post-literate, impulsive, temperamental and doddering buffoon who blusters and lurches from crisis to crisis. For most of a holiday-shortened week, excerpts from the book published in New York and the Hollywood Reporter predicted that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III would “crack Don Junior like an egg,” that Trump thought he would lose the 2016 election, that the Constitution was more difficult for him to understand than quantum physics.

These hot licks temporarily elbowed Mueller’s Russia investigation out of the spotlight until Thursday evening when the New York Times delivered a report that added a layer of patina to the obstruction of justice case Mueller is thought to be Continue reading “Week 33: Trump Blistered by Bannon’s Inside Job”

Trump Got Wolffed

President Donald Trump could have saved himself a lot of grief if he—or one of his people—had read Michael Wolff’s 2008 book, The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch, before permitting the writer seemingly unfettered access to the White House and his underling Steve Bannon.

I’m not the only one to arrive at that observation. On Twitter today, Roger Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman wrote, “One of the baffling things about Trumpworld giving access to Wolff: all they needed to do was call Murdoch and he would have said don’t cooperate b/c Wolff had written nasty book on him. And Jared/Trump speak to Murdoch all the time!”

Six minutes later, Wolff tweeted back at Sherman, “I kept waiting for that call to be made.”

Why wasn’t the call made as Wolff began collecting string for Fire and Fury, his new Continue reading “Trump Got Wolffed”

Week 32: Trump Binges on Collusion Talk to Ring Out Year

In what otherwise would have to be counted as a sleepy week in the annals of the Trump Tower scandal, President Donald Trump gave the press a much-needed news peg by granting New York Times reporter Michael S. Schmidt a 30-minute interview in which he said more than a dozen times that there had been “no collusion” between the Russians and his campaign.

Of course, Trump has spent much of the past year denying any Russian collusion. What makes this year-end “no collusion” insistence so newsworthy is that, according to the transcript, Schmidt doesn’t even question him on the topic! Bringing up collusion unbidden, Trump returned to it again and again, scratching it like a suppurating wound, probing his own threshold of pain and all but inviting Schmidt to touch the abscess, too. If you witnessed this tic at the movies, you’d reckon that the scab-picker was a little bit Continue reading “Week 32: Trump Binges on Collusion Talk to Ring Out Year”

Who’s Winning Trump’s War With the Press?

The guy who said, “Never quarrel with a man who buys his ink by the barrel,” didn’t anticipate Donald Trump. Since becoming president, Trump has argued the news media to a stalemate thanks to the power of his alliance with the Fox News Network and his 44 million-follower Twitter account, which functions as one of the world’s largest printing presses. And the ink is free.

What makes Trump’s success at media-jamming so remarkable is that it coincides with a national press that has bird-dogged his every appointment, his every policy decision, his every political flip-flop, and of course, every ripple in the Russian investigation. The stronger the press gets, the greater Trump’s powers of deflection become, a spiral destined to take both to heaven or at the very least to hell.

Trump isn’t the first American president to square off against the press, obviously. President No. 2, John Adams, Continue reading “Who’s Winning Trump’s War With the Press?”