Showtime series captures NYT grappling with press-bashing and erratic presidency

When New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters meets attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference, in the first episode of the forthcoming Showtime series “The Fourth Estate,” one man matter-of-factly reminds him of the “five enemies.” There’s ABC, NBC, CBS and The Washington Post, he says, and “you all.”

Director Liz Garbus, in an interview with POLITICO, recalled that CPAC exchange as indicative of how people may collectively hate the media writ large but can also have a pleasant exchange with a reporter one on one.

“As soon as there is a you, who seems like a human being, who is not walking around with devil horns on their head, the dynamic changes,” she said.

It’s that possibility that prompted The Times’ executive editor, Dean Baquet, to sign off on Garbus’s post-election request for “fly on the wall” access to covering the new president. Baquet recently said he Continue reading “Showtime series captures NYT grappling with press-bashing and erratic presidency”

New York Times metro editor resigns after internal investigation

New York Times Metro editor Wendell Jamieson resigned from the newspaper following an investigation on Monday and apologized to colleagues for “mistakes” he made, according to a newsroom memo.

Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet and Managing Editor Joseph Kahn said in a memo that Jamieson’s departure follows an investigation, though they did not specify what it was over. They announced that Susan Chira, a veteran Times editor who was most recently a senior correspondent writing on gender issues, would step in as interim metro editor.

In the memo, Jamieson is quoted as saying that “leading Metro for the last five years and working with the incredible Times team has been the high point of my professional life.”

“I regret and apologize for my mistakes and leaving under these circumstances,” Jamieson said. “I’m especially proud of all the talent I’ve helped bring to The Times. Susan Chira is a wonderful Continue reading “New York Times metro editor resigns after internal investigation”

Will the White House Correspondents’ Dinner go on? — MSNBC stars back Joy Reid — RedState ‘purges’ Trump critics

THE WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS’ DINNER is having an existential crisis. Journalists quickly distanced themselves from Saturday night’s dinner in response to comedian Michelle Wolf’s biting routine — particularly the jokes directed at press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. WHCA president Margaret Talev told me Sunday morning that some of Wolf’s remarks “made me uncomfortable and did not embody the spirit of the night.”

But what is the spirit of the night? The WHCA has framed the dinner as an opportunity to celebrate the First Amendment and give out journalism awards and scholarships. Yet the dinner has also become a spectacle, with news organizations jockeying for celebrities and a red carpet entrance. The perception of chumminess between the press and the government has been another long-running concern, prompting the New York Times to sit it out.

The Donald Trump era has only exacerbated existing tensions. His absence at the Continue reading “Will the White House Correspondents’ Dinner go on? — MSNBC stars back Joy Reid — RedState ‘purges’ Trump critics”

Journalists distance themselves from Correspondents’ Dinner after Wolf routine

Comedian Michelle Wolf’s biting routine at Saturday’s 2018 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner has triggered one of Washington’s most recurring conversations: Is one night of pomp and politics worth the headaches that usually follow?

Almost immediately after Wolf, best known as a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah," left the stage at the Washington Hilton, those who pack into the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room on a daily basis began to distance themselves from her performance. A number of journalists deemed her act too caustic.

"The spirit of the event had always been jokes that singe but don’t burn. Reporters who work with her daily appreciate that @presssec was there," NBC News White House correspondent Kelly O’Donnell wrote on Twitter.

As consternation over Wolf’s jokes continued, White House Correspondents’ Association president Margaret Talev said the comedian’s monologue "was not in the spirit of that mission," on a Continue reading “Journalists distance themselves from Correspondents’ Dinner after Wolf routine”

Hannity’s ethics under fire

Sean Hannity has wavered over the years on whether he is a journalist or conservative activist, but ethics specialists say that whichever hat the Fox News host was wearing last week when he condemned the FBI raid on attorney Michael Cohen’s office, he should have disclosed that he’s a client of Cohen’s.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a newspaper reporter or an opinion journalist,” said Indira Lakshmanan, the journalism ethics chair at the Poynter Institute. “If you want to maintain credibility with an audience, and be honest with them, you have to disclose all facts.”

Just hours after the raid on the office of Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Hannity inveighed that special counsel Robert Mueller had “declared war against the President of the United States.” But Hannity didn’t disclose that he, too, had received legal advice from Cohen. Hannity’s relationship with the embattled attorney was revealed Continue reading “Hannity’s ethics under fire”

Pulitzer Prizes honor reporting on Trump-Russia, sexual misconduct scandals

The New York Times and The Washington Post each won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting on Monday, capping a newsroom battle last year for scoops on links between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia, the focus of an ongoing special counsel investigation into the 2016 election.

Another dominant story of 2017, the global reckoning over sexual misconduct across industries, was also a major theme of this year’s awards. The Times and The New Yorker, whose separate, groundbreaking reports on disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein opened the floodgates last fall, shared the public service prize. The Times’ Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey led their paper’s coverage, while Ronan Farrow’s work for The New Yorker was honored.

The Post picked up the investigative award for its in-depth reporting on accusations of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore, who lost his Senate bid in Alabama amid the controversy.

Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah won the Continue reading “Pulitzer Prizes honor reporting on Trump-Russia, sexual misconduct scandals”

How a Trump ‘love child’ rumor roiled the media

The story of how The National Enquirer’s owner bought and spiked a story about an alleged Donald Trump "love child" is now roiling the media world, as the Associated Press acknowledged having decided not to publish it last August, before turning around and doing so on Thursday morning. Other outlets now admit they, too, had worked on the story before backing off.

Meanwhile, the New Yorker rushed to publish its own version right after the Associated Press. And Radar, a gossip site that shares an owner with the National Enquirer, attempted to head off both outlets by publishing a piece casting doubt on the claims of a “disaffected” former Trump employee.

The odd spectacle of news organizations both acknowledging their restraint in reporting a story, but then competing to put it out seemed to illustrate the media’s challenges in the Trump era, in which salacious allegations are often bandied about, Continue reading “How a Trump ‘love child’ rumor roiled the media”

Trump’s correspondents’ dinner decision gets complicated

If President Donald Trump attends this month’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, he’ll be onstage as journalists from a network he routinely calls “fake news” are honored for reporting on intelligence findings that were partly based on a dossier he also calls “fake.”

CNN won the WHCA’s Merriman Smith Award in the broadcast category for its January 2017 report on how the intelligence community believed Russia had compromising information on Trump; that report was followed by BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the entire “dossier” of opposition research on Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, which has become a particular focus of the president’s wrath.

The announcement on Monday of CNN’s victory — along with a trove of other awards to various outlets for largely critical coverage of Trump and his administration — appeared to complicate the WHCA’s invitation to Trump to attend this year’s dinner, a symbolically important gesture of mutual Continue reading “Trump’s correspondents’ dinner decision gets complicated”

Trump’s correspondents’ dinner decision gets complicated

If President Donald Trump attends this month’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, he’ll be onstage as journalists from a network he routinely calls “fake news” are honored for reporting on intelligence findings that were partly based on a dossier he also calls “fake.”

CNN won the WHCA’s Merriman Smith Award in the broadcast category for its January 2017 report on how the intelligence community believed Russia had compromising information on Trump; that report was followed by BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the entire “dossier” of opposition research on Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, which has become a particular focus of the president’s wrath.

The announcement on Monday of CNN’s victory — along with a trove of other awards to various outlets for largely critical coverage of Trump and his administration — appeared to complicate the WHCA’s invitation to Trump to attend this year’s dinner, a symbolically important gesture of mutual Continue reading “Trump’s correspondents’ dinner decision gets complicated”

Anderson Cooper bets heavily that Stormy is serious news

Anderson Cooper walked a fine line on “60 Minutes.”

For a newsman proud of visiting disaster zones and bringing attention to the dispossessed, Cooper risked embarrassment in his interview with porn star Stormy Daniels, but soldiered through with a deadpan stare and a furrowed brow.

The ultimate verdict on his interview – almost certainly the most highly watched moment of his career – will be whether viewers accept his claim that this is serious news.

He could’ve easily gone the tabloid route given the subject matter: an adult-film star describing an alleged affair with the president of the United States. And the 39-year-old Daniels did offer some salacious details in the highly anticipated interview, such as how she spanked Trump with a magazine with his picture on the cover.

Cooper didn’t shy away from sex completely. He asked Daniels directly if Trump wore a condom; she says he Continue reading “Anderson Cooper bets heavily that Stormy is serious news”

The Sam Nunberg Show — Pitaro to lead ESPN — Ex-WSJ reporter’s ordeal — New NYT politics editor

SAM NUNBERG WANTED EVERYONE TO KNOW on Monday afternoon that he wouldn’t comply with a special counsel subpoena in the Russia probe. After Nunberg spoke to the Washington Post, MSNBC’s Katy Tur invited the former Trump campaign aide on air and he ended up staying for 17 freewheeling minutes. “The only thing I was thinking was what I wanted to ask him next,” Tur told me after.

— Nunberg would go on to dominate cable news over the next several hours in a half-dozen interviews that at times resembled interventions. Nunberg asked anchors live on television for legal advice and was questioned about his current mental state and stress level as well as whether he’s been drinking. He made bold claims — for example, that Robert Mueller knows Trump “did something” wrong during the 2016 election — and alleged without evidence that former Trump aide Carter Page colluded with the Continue reading “The Sam Nunberg Show — Pitaro to lead ESPN — Ex-WSJ reporter’s ordeal — New NYT politics editor”

Is Trump trying to make amends with the press?

David Lightman, a national correspondent for McClatchy and president of the Gridiron Club, framed President Donald Trump attending next month’s dinner as in keeping with well-worn tradition.

“He’s the president of the United States, and we always invite the president,” Lightman told POLITICO.

It’s true the Gridiron Club has been inviting presidents since 1885 and all but Grover Cleveland have attended. Still, the news on Monday that Trump plans to rub shoulders with members of Washington’s media elite is surprising given that his persistent attacks on news media haven’t abated since skipping such chummy galas last year. Trump routinely dismisses unwelcome coverage as “fake news,” has claimed with evidence that reporters make up sources, and has even questioned journalists’ patriotism.

And yet Trump also isn’t ruling out attending the glitzy White House Correspondents’ Dinner in April. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that “no decision has been Continue reading “Is Trump trying to make amends with the press?”

Networks focus on social-media images of Florida shooting

As the media covers yet another school shooting, the constant refrain is that Americans have become inured to such violence.

But as the nation came to grips with the loss of 17 students and adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the TV images contained an unusual amount of video and audio from the scene, suggesting that this shooting, at least, would leave a more indelible impression.

The jarring images of students hiding in their classroom as a SWAT team moves in, and hitting the ground as gunshots ring out, drove much of the cable TV coverage around the incident.

“Twenty years ago this would be shocking and stunning,” CNN anchor Jake Tapper said during live coverage Wednesday afternoon, and yet “this happens in everyday America these days.”

The ubiquity of mass shootings in America, and the legislative inaction that follows, drove commentators to understandably lament that Continue reading “Networks focus on social-media images of Florida shooting”

Trump needles ‘monster’ Chuck Todd at off-the-record anchors’ lunch

Hours before his first formal State of the Union address, President Donald Trump gathered top news anchors at the White House and vented his spleen.

The president took a needling tone with Chuck Todd, the host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” telling the group that Todd’s the nicest guy in the world until he gets on the show and then becomes “a monster.”

He had a more pointed exchange with NBC News anchor Lester Holt regarding a May 2017 interview in which the president said he considered the “Russia thing” when deciding to fire former FBI director James Comey. The president accused Holt of editing the interview to remove Trump comments the president claimed were almost “Shakespearean,” according to attendees. Holt responded that the entire interview ran online.

Trump, who starred in NBC’s “The Apprentice,” also commented during the lunch about how much money he made for the network Continue reading “Trump needles ‘monster’ Chuck Todd at off-the-record anchors’ lunch”

Media biased against Trump, Kurtz writes

Veteran media reporter and Fox News host Howard Kurtz portrays the news media in a new book as excessively negative in its treatment of President Donald Trump and essentially serving as opposition to the White House.

“Many are misguided in their belief that they are doing the right thing, and myopic in their rationalizations about why it’s perfectly fine to treat Trump differently than other presidents,” Kurtz writes in “Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War over the Truth.”

POLITICO read the first several chapters of the book, which conservative publisher Regnery will release on Jan. 29. Though Kurtz does chronicle chaos in the West Wing, as The Washington Post noted in a Sunday night piece on excerpts from the forthcoming book, the author is generally sympathetic toward Trump in terms of his relationship with the media. Presumably, Trump will be much happier with Kurtz’s analysis Continue reading “Media biased against Trump, Kurtz writes”

Journalists scrutinize Michael Wolff’s credibility

After setting Washington ablaze with “Fire and Fury,” his gossipy account of infighting and incompetence in the West Wing, author Michael Wolff will face questions Friday morning about reporting methods that have come under scrutiny not only from the Trump White House, but other journalists.

Wolff’s publisher moved up the debut of the book to Friday to accommodate intense interest, while NBC’s “Today” show touted the first major interview with the author that morning.

The moves came after a day in which Wolff took heavy fire from the White House, while journalists — many of whom had had personal encounters with the 64-year-old New York media writer — engaged in a day-long social-media debate on his credibility.

“I wonder how many [White House] staff told Wolff things off the record that he then used on the record,” Bloomberg View columnist Joe Nocera tweeted Thursday. “He’s never much cared about burning Continue reading “Journalists scrutinize Michael Wolff’s credibility”

Glenn Thrush will return to New York Times after suspension for offensive behavior

The New York Times announced on Wednesday that Glenn Thrush, its star White House reporter who was suspended last month as the paper conducted an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior toward young women journalists, would return to the newsroom in a new beat after a two-month suspension.

Executive editor Dean Baquet said in a memo to staff that Thrush, 50, “behaved in ways that we do not condone” and “acted offensively,” but that the reporter did not deserve to be fired. Baquet said Thrush would “receive training designed to improve his workplace conduct” and noted that he was already undergoing counseling for substance abuse.

Thrush will also no longer cover the White House, Baquet said.

Vox’s Laura McGann wrote last month that Thrush made unwanted advances or behaved inappropriately toward four women journalists, including herself when they both worked at POLITICO. While several Times journalists told POLITICO in recent Continue reading “Glenn Thrush will return to New York Times after suspension for offensive behavior”

Glenn Thrush will return to New York Times after suspension for offensive behavior

The New York Times announced on Wednesday that Glenn Thrush, its star White House reporter who was suspended last month as the paper conducted an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior toward young women journalists, would return to the newsroom in a new beat after a two-month suspension.

Executive editor Dean Baquet said in a memo to staff that Thrush, 50, “behaved in ways that we do not condone” and “acted offensively,” but that the reporter did not deserve to be fired. Baquet said Thrush would “receive training designed to improve his workplace conduct” and noted that he was already undergoing counseling for substance abuse.

Thrush will also no longer cover the White House, Baquet said.

Vox’s Laura McGann wrote last month that Thrush made unwanted advances or behaved inappropriately toward four women journalists, including herself when they both worked at POLITICO. While several Times journalists told POLITICO in recent Continue reading “Glenn Thrush will return to New York Times after suspension for offensive behavior”

NBC paid employee who accused Matthews of inappropriate comments

A former NBC employee who worked on Chris Matthews’ show and complained about the cable news star making inappropriate jokes and comments received a separation-related payment when leaving the network, an MSNBC spokesperson confirmed to POLITICO.

The woman, who has not been publicly identified, claimed in 1999 that Matthews made inappropriate comments about her in front of colleagues, according to the spokesperson. The incident was investigated and Matthews’ comments were determined to be inappropriate, but they were not found to be meant as propositions, according to the spokesperson. Matthews received a formal reprimand.

A person familiar with the incident, but who requested anonymity, told POLITICO that the woman described Matthews’ inappropriate comments in an email to a superior, who forwarded the concerns to management. The resulting investigation created an environment that wasn’t conducive to the woman carrying out her duties in a comfortable matter, according to the source, and she Continue reading “NBC paid employee who accused Matthews of inappropriate comments”

New York Times publisher stepping down as next generation takes over

New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of the year, and his son, Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, will become the fifth generation of the Ochs-Sulzberger family to lead the newspaper.

The succession had been expected for some time, with A.G. Sulzberger, as he’s referred to at the Times, seen as the likely heir apparent since joining the paper in 2009 following reporting stints at the The Providence Journal and The Oregonian. He helped chart the Times’ digital trajectory, leading its 2014 innovation report, was named deputy publisher last year, and began overseeing the paper’s opinion section in May.

Still, the formal ascension of the 37-year-old Sulzberger marks a generational shift at the Times, and he’ll take control of the news organization in a dramatically different media environment than his father did in 1992.

The elder Sulzberger is credited with steering the Continue reading “New York Times publisher stepping down as next generation takes over”