A very weird month

Feb 06, 2018

The big media story yesterday: Newsweek Guts Its Top Edit Staff Amid Legal Turmoil. That’s the scoop from Maxwell Tani of The Daily Beast. Tweets Ben Collins, “Four out at Newsweek, including EIC and executive editor, after a very weird month involving cops taking pictures of their server racks.” Hadas Gold covers the story for CNN, Chaos at Newsweek: Top editors suddenly out, and Bill Peters sums it up, “Top Newsweek editors said to be dismissed; reporter who'd written about an investigation into magazine's parent company also reportedly out; NY-office staffers ‘told to stop working and go home for the day.’” “Seriously, if Manhattan DA raided offices AND the 2 top editors were fired, Newsweek’s finances must be a BIG STORY,” notes Heidi Moore. More on the chaos, from BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman, Newsweek Has Fired Its Top Two Editors And Two Senior Reporters. Alex Howard gets Shakespearean: “Something smells rotten in the state of Newsweek. Er, Denmark.”

In better news, Robert Feder reports that three editors from the former DNAinfo Chicago are reuniting to start up a new neighborhood news website to be funded by reader subscriptions. The co-founders of Block Club Chicago are Shamus Toomey, Jen Sabella and Stephanie Lulay. Tweets John Ness, “In a bad-news-about-the-news year, this is inspiring.”

Panic/don’t panic

Here’s a news flash: What goes up must come down. “Market cheerleader-in-chief Donald Trump is learning a hard and basic Wall Street lesson: Stocks also go down. My story on an epic sell-off,” tweets Ben White. That’s his piece for POLITICO, ‘The president clearly set himself up’: Trump’s stock market miscalculation (31,000+ shares). David Dayen says “It's like bragging about your win ticket at the top of the stretch.”

At The New York Times, Peter Baker and Binyamin Appelbaum write about “Trump's awful, no good day on the trading floor,” as Baker tweets, in Live by the Dow, Die by the Dow? Trump Is Quiet on Market.

But if you’re feeling a little panicky, maybe calm down. As Neil Irwin says, “I'm on team ‘don't panic’ on the market declines. Cognitive biases are making the drop seem worse than it is, and bond yields suggest economic growth trajectory is fine.” He links to his piece in The New York Times, Context Matters. The Stock Market Drop Is Less Scary Than It Seems. Or maybe that doesn’t help, since Jack Shafer’s response is “I was fine about the Dow until the @nytimes said not to panic. 

This media tour is not going great

“This will be interesting to watch. The WH citing ‘public interest’ to disclose caught my attention,” tweets Les Zaitz, of the news that The Times Asks Court to Unseal Documents on Surveillance of Carter Page. Charlie Savage and Adam Goldman of The New York Times have the story. Tweets The Times, “The New York Times asked a court to unseal records on the wiretapping of Carter Page, arguing that a GOP memo’s release lowered the shield of secrecy.” Jill Wine-Banks thinks “This is big development. Maybe like the start of the Pentagon Papers case but with court order rather via leak....”

At POLITICO, Kyle Cheney reports, Republicans concede key FBI 'footnote' in Carter Page warrant. “So Nunes now admits that the FBI did mention Steele’s political views—so the core allegation of misconduct in the memo, that the FBI misled a judge to get the warrant, is incorrect,” notes Adam Serwer. In other words, “This media tour is not going great,” observes Jane Coaston.

In the opinion of George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, The cowardice among Republicans is staggering. If nothing else, read his piece in The Washington Post for his take on “the lickspittle wing of the GOP.” As Ari Shapiro says, “The most memorable restaurant reviews always seem to be the ones that eviscerate a place (see: Guy Fieri, NYT). I think this @MJGerson column is the political equivalent.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s Lawyers Want Him to Refuse an Interview in Russia Inquiry (51,000+ shares), report Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times. They write, “His lawyers are concerned that the president, who has a history of making false statements and contradicting himself, could be charged with lying to investigators.”

Basically, though, “The thread that runs through everyone and everything in Trump World is an utter lack of any underlying principles,” says Dan Pfeiffer. He links to White House Official Called Trump ‘a Deplorable,’ by Olivia Nuzzi of New York Magazine, who tweets, “Some news: @NYMag obtained private messages in which Raj Shah, the White House principal deputy press secretary, called Donald Trump ‘a deplorable’ and, while at the RNC, requested oppo on him that was used by Jeb Bush in an attack ad 3 days later.” J. D. Durkin points out that “this sounds shocking until you remember Scaramucci called Trump a ‘hack politician’ with a ‘big mouth’ and he still became White House Communications Director.”

While we’re at it, Scott Pruitt called Trump an ‘empty vessel’ on ‘the Constitution and rule of law’ in another 2016 interview, reports CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski. “Oof,” tweets Oliver Darcy.

Yeah, but what’d you expect?

“American life expectancy fell last year for the second year in a row, because the opioid crisis kills 175 people every day. This is your government's response.” Jon Hecht refers you to Kellyanne Conway’s ‘opioid cabinet’ sidelines drug czar’s experts, by Brianna Ehley and Sarah Karlin-Smith of POLITICO. Tweets Adam Cancryn, “There's a federal official specifically equipped to combat the opioid crisis. The Trump administration decimated it and froze it out. Another must read from @Briannaehley & @SarahKarlin.”

And here’s a story, “In which the feds shrug and say something like ‘yeah, but what'd you expect?’” Gideon Grudo directs you to Bryan Bender’s exclusive in POLITICO, Massive Pentagon agency lost track of hundreds of millions of dollars. Tweets Jason Pye, “Guys. Great idea. Let’s give the Pentagon more money.”

A hell of a thing on which to build a business

The apparel industry has a big problem. That’s the assessment by Bloomberg’s Lindsey Rupp, Chloe Whiteaker, Matt Townsend and Kim Bhasin in their new piece, The Death of Clothing. Or as Andrew Nusca puts it, “taste: a hell of a thing on which to build a business.” “You can buy a plain navy T-shirt from Uniqlo for $3.90 or you can buy one from Faith Connexion for $327.00 because fashion is weird as hell y’all,” explains Kim Bhasin. Anne Riley Moffat advises, “Don't miss this deep-dive into the end of clothing (which isn't the same as nudism, just fyi).”

“America is facing an age of more frequent and extreme flooding. Here’s what lies in the water’s path,” tweets Hiroko Tabuchi, who links to her New York Times piece with Nadja Popovich, Blacki Migliozzi and Andrew W. Lehren, Floods Are Getting Worse, and 2,500 Chemical Sites Lie in the Water’s Path. As Jeff Nesbit says, “It isn’t just about the water. Here’s why.” 

Weak sauce BS

Quentin Tarantino Explains Everything: Uma Thurman, The ‘Kill Bill’ Crash & Harvey Weinstein. That’s Mike Fleming Jr’s exclusive for Deadline. “Glad QT finally said something, but man this is some weak sauce BS. If he knew Uma wanted the car footage, he could have maybe done something, anything to help?” suggests Devindra Hardawar. Joe Flint decides that this is “My favorite Tarantino quote: ‘Also, I’m the director, so I can kind of art direct this spit.’” Kate Aurthur is curious: “Having read this Mike Fleming interview with Quentin Tarantino, I wonder whether Fleming ever thinks of all the soft-landing interviews he did with Harvey Weinstein over the years.”

And from Madeleine Davies at Jezebel, Here's Audio of Quentin Tarantino Defending Roman Polanski: 13-Year-Old Girl ‘Wanted to Have It.’ Kate Aurthur weighs in here, too: “I had missed this Howard Stern interview with QT in which he defended Roman Polanski and said that Samantha Geimer ‘wanted it’ when she was 13 and drugged. I MAY NEVER STOP SIGHING.” “Bye, Quentin,” says Lindsey Adler.

Meanwhile, at The Wall Street Journal, Kate O’Keeffe found out that Steve Wynn Set Up LLC to Pay His Accuser. “The WSJ is doing very good work on the ‘Guys set up LLCs to try and quietly pay women so stories go away’ beat,” as Mark Berman points out.

Basically like Edwardian Twitter

From BuzzFeed’s Hazel Shearing, Here's The Abuse The Suffragettes Received For Trying To Win The Right To Vote. She writes, “The curator of a new exhibition at the Museum of London said the death threats and hate mail were ‘definitely’ comparable to the threats that female politicians receive on Facebook and Twitter today.” Stuart Millar thinks that “These never-seen-before abusive postcards received by suffragette leaders are basically like Edwardian Twitter.”

Stolen valor

“Know what else disrespects the troops more than kneeling at a sportsball game? Lying about your military experience for cool points with your racist alt-right friends,” says Thom Dunn. Emma Cott at The New York Times explains How Our Reporter Uncovered a Lie That Propelled an Alt-Right Extremist’s Rise. The short version: “The racist anti-Semite is also a fabulist,” as Tom Buerkle puts it. Or “Hoo boy looks like Eli Mosley stole some valor,” as Christopher Mathias tweets. Jay Rosen notes that “You can feel the blowback against that ‘Nazi next door’ piece factoring into this intro.”

Keegan Hankes and Alex Amend have taken a look at the latest numbers from the Southern Poverty Law Center and report, The Alt-Right is Killing People. Tweets Ben Collins, “It's white teen boys who feel rejected and usually leave years-long paper trails online. We first need to realize this is an enormous problem that affects that demographic alone—then help them, even or especially when they don't want help.”

RIP John Mahoney

Peter Sagal tweets, “A gentleman, an actor’s actor, a Chicagoan to his British born bones. One of the greatest joys in my life was being in a play with him (on tape) last year.” Sagal links to the obituary for John Mahoney by Chris Jones of the Chicago TribuneJohn Mahoney, Steppenwolf and 'Frasier' actor, dead at 77 (117,000+ shares). As Scott Simon puts it, “A loss of a great actor (and Chicagoan) who brought class to every production. RIP.”

Do not anger the cloning crayfish

OK, maybe now you can panic, because This Mutant Crayfish Clones Itself, and It’s Taking Over Europe (21,000+ shares), writes Carl Zimmer of The New York Times, and “FFS the one thing we must NOT do at this stage is anger the all-powerful cloning crayfish,” as John Burn-Murdoch tweets. (Crawfish?) Or maybe you’ll lean into it, like Casey Seiler, who offers, “Speaking for myself and my family, I hail our new mutant crayfish clone overlords.” Anyway, says Sid Acker, “We humans have had a good run. I’m OK with us going out like this.”

About the author

Nashville-based writer, marketing communications consultant, and all-around word nerd. Usually covered in dog and/or cat hair.

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