Life is a Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip plot

“A plaque above his desk reads ‘Punch Today in the Face.’ @grynbaum interviews CNN boss Jeff Zucker,” tweets Emily Steel. She links to The Network Against the Leader of the Free World, by The New York Times’ Mike Grynbaum. As The Times tweets, “Jeff Zucker hired Donald Trump for ‘The Apprentice.’ Now, as CNN president, Zucker is a Trump target.” Ben White notes, “WH official says they could use pending Time Warner/AT&T merger as ‘leverage’ over CNN. Chilling.” “Life is a Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip plot,” says Glenn Fleishman. Although Matt Negrin questions the headline: “By what objective measure is Trump the ‘leader of the free world’?”

Meanwhile, according to BuzzFeed’s Steven Perlberg, CNN Is Standing By Its Controversial Reddit User Story, noting that CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski “and his family are the subject of an ongoing harassment campaign.” Tweets Perlberg, “CNN source on the ‘reserve the right to publish’ line: ‘Someone did it as a safeguard and it backfired.’” Says Heidi Moore, “Okay but the problem is: this is the kind of thing you either do or you don’t.”

Poynter’s Benjamin Mullin conducted a Q&A session with Indira Lakshmanan, Poynter's Newmark Chair for Journalism Ethics, about the network's decisions, in Ask the ethicist: Did CNN blackmail a pro-Trump Reddit troll? Tweets Lakshmanan, “Social media is a public soapbox, so don’t expect anonymity. But CNN created more controversy by shielding identity.”

Arrested Development Season Five takes an unexpected turn

So in case you don’t believe us, “This is 100% real: Hobby Lobby purchased artifacts looted from Iraq (which ISIS is notorious for doing),” tweets Emily Cahn. And Mike Isaac says, “just a quick fyi, folks, that everything you have heard is true. This is in fact awesome.” They’re referring to the release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, United States Files Civil Action To Forfeit Thousands Of Ancient Iraqi Artifacts Imported By Hobby Lobby. Or, “Arrested Development Season Five takes an unexpected turn,” as Jim Tankersley puts it. Says Ben White, “I mean how do you decide it’s a good idea to covertly import looted Mesopotamian tablets from Iraq? Mind boggling.” But Ron Charles explains, “I bet you could use those smuggled tablets to make a super-cool collage about the evils of birth control.”

Who knows?

On the first stop on his European tour, Donald Trump, in Poland, Urges West to ‘Defend Our Civilization’, Glenn Thrush and Julie Davis report for The New York Times. AP’s Ken Thomas and Darlene Superville report, Trump chides Russia, but doesn’t condemn election meddling. They write, “In a news conference before his speech, Trump questioned the veracity of American intelligence about foreign meddling in the U.S. election, arguing that Russia wasn’t the only country that may have interfered. ‘Nobody really knows for sure,’ Trump said.”

MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin tweets, “Watch: Trump is asked if he believes Russia interfered in our election, instead attacks Obama and the media.  http://snpy.tv/2ssCM8V.” And NBC News’ Bradd Jaffy tweets, “In a span of 13 minutes, on foreign soil, Trump trashed the American free press, the U.S. intel community, and Obama http://snpy.tv/2staY3Z.”

Once upon a time

So here’s “How Trump ditched the multicultural triumph of ‘The Apprentice’ and went full birther to run for president,” tweets Jena McGregor, who links to The Remaking of Donald Trump by Joshua Green of Bloomberg Businessweek. The piece is, as Green tweets, “Excerpt #1 from my new book: ‘How Trump morphed from multicultural corporate icon to hard-right birther.’” Says Stryker McGuire, “Once upon a time, ‘Trump was extremely popular with minority audiences.’ It's true. Read on... “

Meanwhile, Hopes of ‘Trump Bump’ for U.S. Economy Shrink as Growth Forecasts Fade, writes The New York Times’ Nelson D. Schwartz. “Deeply buried lede: Absurd cost of health care & higher education is holding back US economy,” tweets Gershom Gorenberg. In related news, GOP promises lower health premiums but ignores all that’s driving them, writes Joanne Kenen for POLITICO.

That’s not to say no one’s shopping. As Suzanne Kapner of The Wall Street Journal reports, QVC to Acquire Rival HSN for More Than $2 Billion. Andrew LaVallee has the “1st comment on QVC-HSN merger: ‘Was the deal structured in three easy payments and free shipping?’”

Today is your lucky day

In an op-ed for The New York Times, Mark Penn and Andrew Stein command, Back to the Center, Democrats. Matt Novak’s assessment: “This op-ed to make the Dems more centrist flies in the face of the most basic lessons from 2016. What idiots.” Joshua Topolsky says, “If you're looking for a list of bad ideas, today is your lucky day.” And Tom Scocca tweets, “This is like Plato’s cave if the only figures on the walls were made by the inhabitants throwing their own feces.” Eric Boehm is a little more charitable, tweeting, “This is exactly right, except there's little political reward to being a centrist in the current environment.” Dashiell Bennett sums it up: “yes this will be a good day on twitter dot com.”

Very good/harrowing/depressing

And finally today, some Instagram thoughts.

“This is very good,” says Katie Foran- McHale. At Wired, Ashley Feinberg reveals, Nothing Bums Me Out Like Scott Walker’s Instagram Feed. She tweets, “scott walker’s instagram is harrowing and also the only thing i love.” Says Adrian Crawford, “thanks @ashleyfeinberg for this most depressing and unsettling content so early in the morning.”

Also, “this this this this this this this this this this this this this,” says Melissa Buote, who’s referring to Instagram Food Is a Sad, Sparkly Lie, by Amanda Mull for Eater. “burn everything down burn it,” says Michelle Lopez. Kate Bratskeir is “kinda head-nodding at this takedown of instagram food influencers,” and Nisha Chittal says, “This is a terrific read on Instagram food and the influencer economy.” “This is the article I've been waiting for,” says Charles Lam. “amanda: good at writing,” tweets Alanna Okun.

Making the rounds

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