The stories on this page will update every 30 minutes. Hit your browser’s refresh button to see the latest stories.
NewsFeed - Media
This feed was created by mixing existing feeds from various sources.
The Mueller report is coming. Maybe. Last night, CNN, NBC, and MSNBC were abuzz with speculation that the special counsel has all but wrapped his findings and is getting ready to deliver them to the Justice Department. Across the networks, the words “any time now” did a lot of work. On Anderson Cooper’s show, John Dean—the White House counsel who turned on Nixon during Watergate and has, consequently, seen this all before—said that he doesn’t think Mueller is done yet; the White House, Dean speculated, could have started the rumor that the report is imminent to make the process look drawn out. In the studio, Shimon Prokupecz, CNN’s crime and justice reporter, disagreed. “I don’t think we would be told a report is coming any day now if there were other indictments,” he said. Who was right? Who knows?
Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard, on several occasions, that the Mueller report was about to drop. In its continued absence, reporters on the Mueller beat have been busy interpreting signs. Andrew Weissman, a top prosecutor for Mueller, is stepping down. What does that mean? Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who was stepping down, is now staying a bit longer. What does that mean? Staff are carrying boxes out of the special counsel’s office. Yesterday’s speculation felt particularly feverish. But it’s hard to tell, at least from the outside, whether that reflects a change in reality or the bored angst of journalists.
Triangulating clues seems necessary because Mueller’s investigation is “hermetically sealed,” as The New York Times put it. His office has been remarkably impervious to leaks; when he communicates, it’s almost always through court documents. In recent weeks, the most useful journalism has stuck to what we know for sure: The Washington Post and the Times, for instance, produced graphics linking important figures to key events. Last month, Chad Day and Eric Tucker of the Associated Press explained that we already know a great deal about Mueller’s findings; his collected court filings, they wrote, are a report hiding in plain sight. Yesterday, Jonathan Karl, chief White House correspondent at ABC News, struck a similar note, pointing to a “potential road map” in the form of a letter that Rosenstein sent to the Senate last year. “The bottom line,” Karl said, “do not expect a harsh condemnation of President Donald Trump or any of his associates if they have not been charged with crimes.”
Still, major news outlets are ready to move. According to Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo, the Times, the Post, and The Wall Street Journal already have stories, B-roll, interactives, and graphics “in the oven”; news trucks have been camped outside the Justice Department; the home of William Barr, the attorney general; and other places. Yesterday, photographers snapped pictures of Mueller driving to his office.
Whatever happens next, and whenever it happens, the clearest truth we have is that the report will not be the end of the Mueller story. Since 2017—when the investigation was authorized, to determine whether Russia interfered in the election of Donald Trump to the presidency—it’s been talked about in dramatic terms: as an epic mystery leading up to a big final reveal. But that’s never been realistic. As Jeffrey Toobin wrote last month for The New Yorker, Watergate “was like Shakespeare—a drama that built to a satisfying climax,” but Mueller “is more like Beckett—a mystifying tragicomedy that may drift into irresolution.” It’s a compelling analogy. Then again, who knows? A Hollywood ending could come today.
Below, more on Mueller:
- Pregnant with expectation: The Mueller speculation has inspired more than its fair share of baby-watch analogies. Early this month, The Daily podcast from the Times released a three-part podcast series, “What to expect when you’re expecting (the Mueller report)” featuring interviews with Neal Katyal, a former government lawyer who drafted the special counsel regulations; Michael S. Schmidt, who has covered Mueller for the Times; and Jerry Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee. The takeaway? This is only the beginning.
- Wait and see: According to CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, “The White House press shop is on alert, but has largely kept its distance from preparations related to the Mueller report.” The White House may respond, when the report is filed, via a formal statement issued by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the press secretary, or Trump himself. Or, Trump may just tweet about it.
- Lashing out? Trump’s attacks this week on George Conway and the Senator John McCain, who died last summer, prompted some observers to speculate that he’s worried about the impending Mueller report and is lashing out to distract attention. Such behavior is hardly unusual. “Another explanation is he’s just the same guy he’s been since June 16, 2015,” Axios’s Jonathan Swan tweeted. “Or before that. Long before that,” the Times’s Maggie Haberman added.
- Receipts: Where Mueller is wrapping up, the House Judiciary Committee is just getting started with its own Trump probe. It recently requested documents from 81 parties; the deadline for delivery was this week. Hope Hicks—Trump’s former communications director, who is now an executive at Fox—plans to cooperate. Julian Assange—the founder of WikiLeaks, who posted hacked Democratic Party emails during the 2016 campaign—has said he will not, citing the First Amendment and his role as a journalist.
Other notable stories:
- Jeanine Pirro, who was suspended by Fox News for suggesting that Representative Ilhan Omar, a Muslim, is un-American, will be off-air for a second consecutive weekend but is expected to return, CNN’s Brian Stelter reports. Yesterday, Joseph Azam told NPR’s David Folkenflik that he quit as a senior Murdoch executive in 2017 because of the xenophobic slant of Fox News and other of the family’s properties. For The Washington Post, Sarah Ellison profiles Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert, who is in charge of Fox News’s new parent company and who may be less committed to the news arm than his father.
- New polling by Democratic groups suggests that Republicans who watch Fox News have radically different views from non-Republicans and Republicans who don’t watch Fox—a phenomenon known as “the FoxHole.” The survey, The Daily Beast’s Maxwell Tani writes, shows why many in the Democratic Party have “written off the network’s viewers as a lost cause.” John Delaney, a former Maryland congressman who is running for president, is not among the naysayers: he says party bosses made “a bad decision” when they told Fox they wouldn’t host a debate on the network.
- For CJR, Tony Lin charts the spread of Islamophobia on Chinese social media following last week’s mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand. “The enormous power of Chinese social media platforms is enabling the global circulation of extremist and alt-right discourses—and China’s Great Firewall might, counterintuitively, be helping the circulation,” Lin writes.
- Dan Peres, the former editor of Details, a men’s fashion magazine that was shuttered in 2015, will be editor in chief of the new Gawker. Peres told the Times’s Julia Jacobs that Gawker 2.0 would not be as brash as Gawker 1.0: “There was a lot of gratuitous meanness and sort of misguided decision-making,” he said. Carson Griffith, the controversial editorial director hired to help launch the reboot, will stay on under Peres.
- For The Atlantic, Taylor Lorenz writes that “the next great battle against misinformation” will be on Instagram—a platform that has largely gone under the radar compared to its owner, Facebook. “Instagram is teeming with conspiracy theories, viral misinformation, and extremist memes,” she writes. “Accounts intersperse TikTok videos and nostalgia memes with anti-vaccination rhetoric, conspiracy theories about George Soros and the Clinton family, and jokes about killing women, Jews, Muslims, and liberals.”
- For CJR’s podcast, The Kicker, Betsy Morais, our managing editor, and Alexandria Neason, our staff writer, spoke with Elecia Dexter, who became editor of The Democrat-Reporter newspaper in Linden, Alabama, after Goodloe Sutton, its longtime chief, wrote a column praising the Ku Klux Klan. Dexter soon quit her post, citing continued interference from Sutton, who still owns the paper.
- Vice has agreed to produce sponsored content for Philip Morris, the tobacco company, promoting e-cigarettes. Alice Hancock reports for The Financial Times that the deal, worth over $6 million, has alarmed health campaigners in the UK, where the government takes a more lax approach to teenage vaping than in the US.
- For CJR, Mark Gardiner reflects on a story he wrote about Pierlucio Tinazzi, an Italian motorcyclist who, Gardiner reported, bravely rescued 10 people before perishing in a tunnel fire. While researching a feature on the 20th anniversary of the fire, Gardiner discovered his Tinazzi story wasn’t true.
- Finally, a programming note: I’ll be off for the next two weeks. In my absence, Maya Kosoff will be helming the newsletter. See you on Monday, April 8.
Facebook is taking action against anti-vaccine conspiracies. But bogus medical cures are still getting massive reach.
A little more than a week later, the company outlined a plan to curb antivaxxer …
The benefits and dangers of using a recorder; Podhoretz apologizes for ‘bomb J school’ tweet; fired Tampa news director reinstated
This fact-checker tripled its audience by listening to its readers and covering the Yellow Vest protests
In June, the fact-checking community was introduced to CheckNews.fr.
The project, which debuted at the fifth annual Global Fact-Checking Summit, was the first project launched with the support of Fact Forward, the International Fact-Checking Network’s innovation fund. …
Why are digital newsrooms unionizing now? “This generation is tired of hearing that this industry requires martyrdom”
The New Humanitarian (no longer an acronymed UN agency) wants to move humanitarian crisis journalism beyond its wonky, depressing roots
Noticias Telemundo and PolitiFact partner to fact-check news for millions of Spanish-speaking Americans
Think that as a journalist you’re a great listener and questioner? Think again — then do something about it.
On Tuesday, The Washington Post published an op-ed reflecting on the Christchurch mosque shooter’s references to Turkey—a historic bridge between the West and the Middle East—in the screed he posted online shortly before the massacre. The op-ed argued that there is “absolutely no difference” between the far-right Christchurch terrorist and ISIS—both have said they want to claim Turkish land, including Istanbul, for Christianity and Islam, respectively. There was nothing immediately objectionable about the message. The messenger, by contrast, was controversial. The op-ed was authored by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s authoritarian president.
The measured, conciliatory tone of Erdoğan’s op-ed stands in stark contrast to his behavior on the campaign trail ahead of local elections in Turkey later this month. Erdoğan—whose conservative party is projected to lose control of the country’s capital—has repeatedly politicized the Christchurch massacre in them-against-us terms. During at least eight of his rallies, Erdoğan has incited crowds by playing clips from the shooter’s video, including blurred images featuring live gunfire. He has accused the West of preparing the shooter’s writing and handing it to him, among other inflammatory remarks. On Monday, the day before his Post op-ed was published, Erdoğan talked about Gallipoli, a World War I military campaign that saw the Ottoman Empire repel troops from Australia and New Zealand. Each year, thousands of people from those countries visit Turkey to commemorate Anzac Day. This year, Erdoğan warned, anti-Muslim visitors would go home in coffins, “like their grandfathers.” The governments of Australia and New Zealand reacted furiously to the remarks. In his Post op-ed, Erdoğan was the picture of diplomatic innocence. “All Western leaders must learn from the courage, leadership, and sincerity of New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern,” he wrote.
Tuesday wasn’t the first time Erdoğan used an op-ed in a major newspaper to score political points. Last November, the Post gave him space to demand answers from Saudi Arabia over its killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Post contributor, in an Istanbul consulate. Again, it was a fine message, but again, it was disingenuous: more journalists are in jail in Turkey than in any other country worldwide. It was a similar story in January, when The New York Times let Erdoğan argue in its pages that Donald Trump was right to announce a troop withdrawal from Syria; Turkey, Erdoğan wrote, would be more than capable of defeating ISIS and “other terrorist groups,” and of starting to reconstruct Syria, on its own. Erdoğan had, of course, recently promised an offensive against US-backed Kurdish militias in northern Syria.
Both the Post and the Times have explored Erdoğan’s true motives, and held him to account, many times on both the news and opinion sides of their papers—the Post editorial board, for instance, called out his hypocrisy three days after publishing his Khashoggi op-ed. The Post’s position on Erdoğan’s jailing of journalists is “no mystery,” and publishing him is “not an endorsement,” Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor at the Post, tells me in an email. “But we also believe our op-ed page should be a forum for a wide range of views,” he says. “We think that is the best way to serve our readers—who we believe are more than capable of evaluating for themselves what they read.”
The most troubling aspect of the Erdoğan op-eds, however, does not concern the boundaries of legitimate speech as much as their lack of context. The internet age has disaggregated newspapers and their opinion sections, spinning op-eds into standalone pieces as they circulate around the web. On those terms, Erdoğan’s Christchurch op-ed, for example, looks innocuous to all who lack prior knowledge of his latest electioneering tactics—a story, it’s safe to say, that has not penetrated the US news cycle.
The problem of disaggregation demands more thoughtful answers than “just don’t publish propagandistic op-eds.” The Post and others have worked to add context: using artificial intelligence, for example, to serve up links and opposing viewpoints. But the Erdoğan piece didn’t serve up a rebuttal, at least not to me. And links aren’t enough, in cases like this, to adequately contextualize a tyrant’s untrammeled message about a sensitive topic during a campaign season. Let him propagandize at his rallies, not in the pages of The Washington Post.
Below, more on Erdoğan and the opinion piece:
- Jailing journalists: The Committee to Protect Journalists offers fuller data on journalist imprisonment around the world in 2018. For the third year running, Turkey, China, and Egypt between them were responsible for more than half of the total. Also last year, Reporters Without Borders ranked Turkey 157th, out of 180 countries, in its World Press Freedom Index, citing Erdoğan’s “massive purge” of critics in the media. That purge has included a clampdown on Cumhuriyet, a rare independent newsroom in the country. Last year, Shawn Carrié and Asmaa Omar profiled that paper for CJR.
- A similar defense: In 2013, the Times’s public editor (remember them?) addressed reader concerns over the decision to give Vladimir Putin space to write in the paper. “From my point of view, The Times’s publishing the Putin Op-Ed was completely legitimate. Whether you agree with it or not, whether you approve of Mr. Putin or not, it could hardly be more newsworthy or interesting,” Margaret Sullivan, who now works for the Post, wrote.
- The ghostwriter: Last year, James Rose reflected for CJR on his career ghostwriting op-eds for politicians around the world, then placing them in major newspapers. “Because I was generally at some remove from my clients, I had to get up to speed on events related to them quickly. It was also vitally important to establish my clients’ voice,” he wrote.
Other notable stories:
- The Post’s Sullivan criticizes obsessive media coverage of the “B-boys”—Beto, Biden, and Bernie—at the expense of other Democratic candidates such as Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. “In polling, in fundraising, in media ardor, they begin to seem inevitable. Invincible,” she writes. Joe Scarborough later compared another B-boy—Pete Buttigieg—to Barack Obama following the South Bend, Indiana, mayor’s buzzy appearance on Morning Joe.
- For CJR, Emily Bell writes, in response to the Christchurch mosque massacre, that journalism has “a panopticon problem: Just like the watchman in the center of Jeremy Bentham’s theoretical circular prison, we can now surveil a vast amount of human activity on the internet.” That ability, Bell writes, has led to urgent conversations about what journalists should and should not magnify. In the UK, a top counter-terrorism official waded into that debate yesterday, saying mainstream newspapers are helping radicalize far-right terrorists by spreading viral propaganda.
- The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner has an entertaining interview with Donna Brazile, the longtime Democratic operative who this week accepted a contributor gig at Fox News. “I want you to be clear that I have my marbles. This is Donna Brazile. You are not talking to a phantom,” Brazile says at one point. “Don’t call me and act as if you are somehow appalled that a black woman, or a woman, or a liberal progressive, would go, ‘Hell, yeah, I want to go in that den.’ I want to fight from inside and fight from the outside.”
- As Apple gears up to launch its paid news service, several potential partners, including the Times and the Post, have balked at its proposed terms: Apple reportedly wants to keep half the subscription revenue. That, apparently, has not put off The Wall Street Journal. According to the Times’s Mike Isaac, Apple and the Journal will announce their partnership on Monday. Apple is also launching a streaming video service to rival Netflix.
- Yesterday, the European Union fined Google $1.7 billion for anti-competitive behavior when advertising on third-party websites. The penalty was the third big fine EU antitrust regulators have imposed on Google in the last two years, costing the tech giant nearly $10 billion in total, the AP’s Kelvin Chan and Raf Casert report.
- Jared Schroeder writes for CJR that Devin Nunes—the pro-Trump congressman who attracted ridicule this week after suing Twitter and a pair of parody accounts for defamation—accidentally hit an important truth about social media companies. The fact Nunes has no chance of success “highlights the untenable level of double protection from liability that social media platforms have come to receive,” Schroeder argues.
- For Politico, Seamus Hughes writes that Pacer, a paywalled online repository of federal court records, is a “judicially approved scam.” According to Hughes, “The US federal court system rakes in about $145 million annually to grant access to records that, by all rights, belong to the public,” yet despite this windfall has “produced a website unworthy of the least talented of Silicon Valley garage programmers.” Earlier this month, CJR’s Amanda Darrach profiled Hughes and the terrorism research center he helps lead.
- And there was more bad media-business news yesterday. The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance publication based in St. Petersburg, Florida, laid off 45 staffers, slashing its newsroom roughly by half. And the Reading Eagle, a local newspaper in Pennsylvania, filed for bankruptcy. Peter Barbey, the Eagle CEO who shut down The Village Voice last year, belongs to one of the richest families in America.