Forbes: “In March, The Rachel Maddow Show finished as the highest-rated show in cable news, with an average total audience of 3.058 million viewers–the show’s best-ever performance in the 9 p.m. ET hour. FNC’s Hannity was second, with 3.000 million viewers. Maddow also won among viewers 25-54, the demographic most valued by advertisers, finishing March with an average audience of 671,000 compared to Hannity’s 616,000. CNN finished a distant third in the hour, with 382,000 viewers 25-54.”
Edward Luce: “Those who think Mr Trump acts solely on impulse are not paying attention. He is doing what populists always do. They target independent media. In some cases, such as in Victor Orban’s Hungary, they direct state advertising to friendly outlets. In Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, they hound independents with tax raids. Regulatory intimidation also works. Mr Trump keeps telling the world he intends to use such tools. We keep downplaying the risk. This is America, after all. Such things do not happen.”
“Yet they already have. Ponder this Ohio State University study. It found that voters who switched from Barack Obama in 2012 to Mr Trump in 2016 were influenced by three fake stories: Hillary Clinton was suffering from poor health; Pope Francis had endorsed Mr Trump; and Mrs Clinton had sold arms to Isis terrorists. All were essentially false. Together they may have tipped the election, says the report. Mr Trump is using his powers to ensure more Americans consume more stories like these. It helped elect him once. Why wouldn’t he press the advantage?”
“60 Minutes and CBS, you know, they are a conservative network. I mean there is a lot of information that was said during that interview that didn’t make it into the final 60 Minutes. They play it very close to the vest. For instance, she can describe the President’s genitalia in great detail. That did not make it.”
— Michael Avenatti, attorney for Stormy Daniels, interviewed on the Today Show.
“After Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. drew widespread criticism for having anchors read a statement taking aim at the integrity of other U.S. media outlets, many wondered why some of the company’s journalists didn’t just quit,” Bloomberg reports.
“The short answer is the cost may be too steep. According to copies of two employment contracts… some Sinclair employees were subject to a liquidated damages clause for leaving before the term of their agreement was up: one that requires they pay as much as 40% of their annual compensation to the company… They were also subject to a six-month noncompete clause and forced arbitration.”
“The mainstream media’s skeptical-to-sneering coverage of Fox and Sinclair just endears those outlets to Trump, and causes his diehard supporters to dig in even deeper,” Axios reports.
How it works: “Trump demands instant gratification and the quickest way to do it is to kick a shared enemy of his media allies (WaPo being the one this week). He’ll get instant feedback, phone calls from cable hosts and approving coverage on their shows. It’s the modern version of call and response: his tweets, their chyrons.”
Earlier for members: A Look at the Fox News-Trump Feedback Loop
David Smith, the executive chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group, told New York magazine that he dislikes and fundamentally distrusts the print media, which he believes “serves no real purpose.”
Said Smith: “I must tell that in all the 45 plus years I have been in the media business I have never seen a single article about us that is reflective of reality especially in today’s world with the shameful political environment and generally complete lack of integrity. Facts and truth have been lost for a long time and likely to never return.”
He added: “The print media is so left wing as to be meaningless dribble which accounts for why the industry is and will fade away. Just no credibility.”
Vanity Fair: “For the first time in Donald Trump’s presidency, the West Wing soap opera appears to be in hiatus, with many of its starring characters (Gary Cohn, Hope Hicks) either permanently offstage or with much reduced roles (John Kelly, Jared Kushner). Currently, there’s one star—a situation Trump is obviously enjoying—and his new freedom is used to focus ever more closely on his perceived enemies and obsessions. Amazon, whose owner, Jeff Bezos, also owns The Washington Post, is currently the main target.”
“Now, according to four sources close to the White House, Trump is discussing ways to escalate his Twitter attacks on Amazon to further damage the company.”
Said one source: “He’s off the hook on this. It’s war. He gets obsessed with something, and now he’s obsessed with Bezos. Trump is like, how can I fuck with him?”
New York Times: “People close to the president have said critical articles in The Post often trigger his public musings about Amazon.”
Daily Beast: “Dobbs doesn’t get to just interview and socialize with the president, he is involved in some of the administration’s more sensitive discussions. During the first year of the Trump era, the president has patched Dobbs in via speakerphone to multiple meetings in the Oval Office so that he could offer his two cents.”
“Trump will ask Dobbs for his opinion before and after his senior aides or Cabinet members have spoken. Occasionally, he will cut off an official so the Fox Business host can jump in.”
For members: A Look at the Fox News-Trump Feedback Loop
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John Oliver ran an interesting segment on Sinclair Broadcast Group, “the most influential media company that you’ve never heard of” and how they force 170 local television station anchors to read the same commentary.
Trump tweets this morning: “So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.”
A new Monmouth University Poll finds large majorities of the American public believe that traditional media outlets engage in reporting fake news and that outside sources are actively trying to plant fake stories in the mainstream media.
More than 3-in-4 Americans believe that traditional major TV and newspaper media outlets report “fake news,” including 31% who believe this happens regularly and 46% who say it happens occasionally. The 77% who believe fake news reporting happens at least occasionally has increased significantly from 63% of the public who felt that way last year.
President Trump claimed in a tweet that the Washington Post is a “lobbyist” for Amazon.
The Washington Post and Amazon are both owned by Jeff Bezos.
Washington Post: “In a pair of morning tweets… the president argued that Amazon costs the U.S. Postal Service billions of dollars in potential revenue. Trump has repeatedly advanced this theory, even though officials have explained to him that Amazon’s contracts with the Postal Service are profitable.”
Ralph Peters: “You could measure the decline of Fox News by the drop in the quality of guests waiting in the green room. A year and a half ago, you might have heard George Will discussing policy with a senator while a former Cabinet member listened in. Today, you would meet a Republican commissar with a steakhouse waistline and an eager young woman wearing too little fabric and too much makeup, immersed in memorizing her talking points.”
“This wasn’t a case of the rats leaving a sinking ship. The best sailors were driven overboard by the rodents.”
“As I wrote in an internal Fox memo, leaked and widely disseminated, I declined to renew my contract as Fox News’s strategic analyst because of the network’s propagandizing for the Trump administration. Today’s Fox prime-time lineup preaches paranoia, attacking processes and institutions vital to our republic and challenging the rule of law.”
“Multiple companies say they’re pulling their advertisements from conservative Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s show after she sent a tweet mocking Parkland shooting survivor and gun-control activist David Hogg,” NPR reports.
“Nestle US, Hulu and Nutrish confirmed on Twitter that they are removing advertising from Ingraham’s show. Media reports say TripAdvisor, Expedia, Wayfair and Johnson & Johnson are pulling their support as well.”