Media Buzz

Another Powerful Right Wing Media Company Emerges

Bloomberg Businessweek: “Whatever a particular station’s network affiliation—ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, or NBC—Sinclair viewers get a steady dose of conservative political commentary. Lately, Executive Chairman David Smith has begun assembling a kind of junior varsity squad of commentators and making unspecific murmurings about competing head-to-head with the senior lettermen and women at Fox News. To left-leaning viewers only just becoming aware of the company’s reach, Sinclair is positioned to flip a switch and turn those 173 stations’ newscasts—currently delivering bulletins on weather, school closings, and local affairs—into a cohesive network that pushes a Fox News-esque worldview of outrage and conflict into individual cities, counties, and towns.”

Trump’s Magic Mirror

The New York Times compares Fox & Friends to an interactive children’s show trying to keep a distractible audience’s attention.

“President Trump is the show’s subject, its programmer, its publicist and its virtual fourth host. The stars offer him flattery, encouragement and advice. When he tweets, his words and image appear on a giant video wall. It’s the illusion of children’s TV — that your favorite show is as aware of you as you are of it — except that for Mr. Trump, it’s real.”

Trump Revives Banter with Reporters

New York Times: “The president had taken off his tie but kept on his jacket — a wardrobe change that for him qualifies as casual Friday — and he was in a happy-hour frame of mind. Expansive, engaging, even at times ebullient, Mr. Trump held forth for an hour, addressing reporters by name and alighting on topics as different as Chinese history and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.”

“It was a loose, good-humored side of Mr. Trump that the public rarely sees amid the fusillade of angry speeches and venomous tweets that have characterized the president’s first six months in the White House. And it came to light only because he retroactively put the session on the record, asking a reporter the next morning why she had not quoted his remarks.”

LePage Says He Feeds False Stories to the Media

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) suggested he makes up stories to mislead reporters, the AP reports.

Said LePage: “I just love to sit in my office and make up ways so they’ll write these stupid stories because they are just so stupid, it’s awful.”

He also characterized the Maine media as “vile,” “inaccurate” and “useless” and said “the sooner the print press goes away, the better society will be.”

CNN Accuses Trump of Holding ‘Fake News Conference’

CNN’s Jim Acosta accused President Trump of holding a “fake news conference” by calling on a friendly reporter, The Hill reports.

“Trump on Thursday held a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda, during which he took two questions — one of which was from the Daily Mail’s David Martosko, who acknowledged talking to the Trump administration about taking a job with them.”

Said Acosta: “Trump finally held a news conference overseas. But he took a question from a friendly reporter and then attacked CNN as ‘fake news.'”

How Trump Could Get Back at CNN

New York Times: “White House advisers have discussed a potential point of leverage over their adversary, a senior administration official said: a pending merger between CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, and AT&T. Mr. Trump’s Justice Department will decide whether to approve the merger, and while analysts say there is little to stop the deal from moving forward, the president’s animus toward CNN remains a wild card.”

Dan Primack: “There could be a chilling effect on M&A activity if it was believed that the Department of Justice would block a merger — or require applicants make certain concessions — due to a political beef between an applicant and the White House. It also would be sure to spark legal challenges.”

Big Trump Donor Eyes Buying Time Magazine

“There is now more than one conservative booster of President Trump with a fancy for buying Time Inc. — and its 94-year-old flagship newsweekly, Time, the New York Post reports.

“Robert Mercer’s Renaissance Technologies bought nearly 2.5 million shares of Time Inc. in the first quarter, according to a recent regulatory filing — a 2.51 percent stake valued on March 31 at $48.1 million… Mercer and daughter Rebekah are big Trump supporters.”

“Mercer is also a backer of Breitbart News, which was headed by Steve Bannon until he left to become an adviser to Trump.”

Kushner Nearly Bought the National Enquirer

Bloomberg: “Three years ago, Kushner and his brother-in-law, Joe Meyer, tried with Enquirer publisher David Pecker to buy the tabloid’s owner, American Media Inc., people familiar with that bid said. The deal ultimately fell through because of weak advertising revenue at the time, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter was private.”

Kushner Delivered Threat to Scarborough

New York Magazine reports that Joe Scarborough’s main point of contact in the White House about a threatened National Enquirer story was Jared Kushner. It was Kushner who told Scarborough that he’d have to personally apologize to Trump in order to have the story spiked.

An NBC News spokesman told CNN that Scarborough kept several network executives apprised of the alleged threats “contemporaneously.”

Scarborough Claims Trump Tried to Blackmail Him

Joe Scarborough said that “three people at the very top of the administration” threatened him with a bad story in the National Enquirer unless he apologized to President Trump, CNN reports.

Said Scarborough: “We got a call that, ‘Hey, the National Enquirer is going to run a negative story against you guys…’ And they said, ‘If you call the president up, and you apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike this story.”

He added: “The calls kept coming and kept coming, and they were like ‘Call. You need to call. Please call. Come on, Joe. Just pick up the phone and call him.'”

When Trump denied it on Twitter, Scarborough responded: “Yet another lie. I have texts from your top aides and phone records. Also, those records show I haven’t spoken with you in many months.”

Trump Attacks Mika Brzezinski In Vulgar Terms

President Trump “assailed the television host Mika Brzezinski in unusually personal and vulgar terms, the latest of a string of escalating attacks by the president on the national news media,” the New York Times reports.

Here’s Trump’s two-part tweet:

I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came…

to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!

“The graphic nature of the president’s suggestion that Ms. Brzezinski had undergone plastic surgery was met with immediate criticism on social media.”

Brian Stelter: “Even by President Trump’s standards, these tweets were shocking.”

The Case Against Going to White House Press Briefings

Mike Allen: “Even if the spokespeople were fully looped in, appeared on camera, and shot straight, what would you miss by blowing it off? There are transcripts and this thing called Twitter, where the rare newsy nugget will quickly appear.”

“Truth is, with cable and the internet, the briefings were pretty useless, even pre-Trump. Government officials are paid to make little news, and spin the best take they can. It’s low-grade propaganda at best, and full-blown B.S. at worst.”