Fretting and frustrated by a free press

Muck Rack Daily

Fretting and frustrated by a free press
July 3rd, 2017
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Muck Rack Daily
Hello from Muck Rack, where you can get a snapshot of what journalists around the world are reading, thinking and commenting on right now.

Tom Sofield, publisher and editor of and, has covered news in Bucks County, PA, for seven years for both newspaper and online publications. With national chains buying up more and more local news organizations and cutting staffs and coverage, Tom says locally owned and focused online publications are filling the void and helping to keep communities connected. For more on the local news movement, read his new post on the Muck Rack blog, In a world of clickbait, local news makes a comeback.

Nothing so justly terrible to tyrants as a free press

“A sad headline on the eve of July 4th,” tweets Penny Collenette, of Jim Rutenberg’s piece in The New York Times, Independent Press Is Under Siege as Freedom Rings, which begins, “Happy Birthday, America, I guess.” Among others, Rutenberg quotes Samuel Adams, who said, “There is nothing so fretting and vexatious, nothing so justly terrible to tyrants, and their tools and abettors, as a free press.”

Clearly fretting and frustrated by a free press: Donald Trump, who, as Mike Grynbaum of The New York Times reports, Tweets a Video of Him Wrestling ‘CNN’ to the Ground (70,000+ shares), a piece that begins, “President Trump posted a short video to his Twitter account on Sunday in which he is portrayed wrestling and punching a figure whose head has been replaced by the logo for CNN.” “Not a lede you write everyday,” Grynbaum says. Dean Baquet, executive editor The New York Times, says, “I think it is unseemly that the president would attack journalists for doing their jobs, and encourage such anger at the media.” 

David Nakamura has the story for the Washington Post, writing, Trump appears to promote violence against CNN with tweet (90,000+ shares). And CNNMoney’s Brian Stelter tweets, “Here's my story:” Trump punches CNN in a juvenile tweet. The source of that video, by the way? Dave Gershgorn reports for Quartz, US President Donald Trump sourced his CNN wrestling tweet from a racist troll on Reddit, who then “spent the day erasing racial slurs from Reddit,” as Gershgorn tweets.

Meanwhile, Adrienne LaFrance of The Atlantic says Donald Trump Is Testing Twitter’s Harassment Policy. But as CNNMoney’s Jackie Wattles reports, Twitter says Trump's tweet doesn't violate its rules, a statement that came, as Stelter notes, “6 hours after the first request-for-comment.” Tweets Matt Dornic, “Wonder if @twitter would have the same response if their staff was being targeted and threatened.” Well, according to Asawin Suebsaeng and Andrew Desiderio of The Daily Beast, Trump Tweets Video of Him Punching CNN—White House Officials Think It’s Really ‘Funny’.

So in case you need a poll to tell you this, Americans Say Civility Has Worsened Under Trump; Trust In Institutions Down, reports NPR’s Jessica Taylor, of the results of a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. She writes, “Seven in 10 Americans say the level of civility in Washington has gotten worse since President Trump was elected, while just 6 percent say the overall tone has improved.” Tweets Glenn Thrush, “I wanna meet the 6% who think civility has improved.”

And “If you want to understand what is happening in our country right now, read this astonishing @lawrence_wright story,” advises Pamela Colloff. In his piece for The New Yorker, America’s Future Is Texas, Texan Lawrence Wright says, “Texas is as politically divided as the rest of the U.S., but a recurrent crop of crackpots and ideologues has fed its reputation for proud know-nothingism and retrograde thinking.”

Holding power to account by flying a plane over it

As Tom Sofield notes in his Muck Rack blog post, local news is keeping communities connected, and here’s your Exhibit A:

“While Trump and the GOP are bashing media, someone brilliant at did this. Yay for our media!” tweets Peter Gleick. He’s talking about photojournalist Andrew Mills’ work for, PHOTOS: Christie, family soak up sun on N.J. beach he closed to public (275,000+ shares). 

Mills also reveals, in The plane truth: How we outsmarted Chris Christie and caught him sunbathing on a closed beach, “when Sunday's weather looked good, and the governor's schedule was open except for an afternoon press briefing in Trenton, I wondered, ‘What are the chances ...?’” Says Cristian Farias, “A round of applause for @njdotcom and @starledger for holding power to account by flying a plane over it.” “Support your local journalist,” says Steve Kopack.

A fascinating, illuminating piece of writing and reporting

“Breathtaking story. In a Midwestern town that went for Trump, a Muslim doctor tries to understand his neighbors,” tweets Sharyn Jackson, of ‘Love Thy Neighbor?’ by Stephanie McCrummen for the Washington Post. Liz Sly says, “Wonderful & moving from @mccrummenWaPo on being Muslim in Trump's America. Read to the end,” and Sopan Deb tweets, “This was a fascinating, illuminating piece of writing and reporting by @mccrummenWaPo.” 

But the pizza

“Rahm Emanuel throws salt into New York’s transit wound,” tweets Colin Campbell of the opinion piece in The New York Times from Rahm Emanuel, In Chicago, the Trains Actually Run on Time. However, Luc Cohen tweets, “This is not complete w/o noting that NYC's 4-5-6 line alone has more daily riders than DC, Boston, Chicago combined.” And Matthew Yglesias points out, “Okay but the Chicago pizza is totally fucked up.” Says Kia Makarechi, “It’s a little rich of Rahm Emanuel to lecture other cities on ... anything.”

Flips then flops

In Tillerson Ready to Let Russia Decide Assad’s Fate, Foreign Policy’s Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer have the scoop, “In talks with the U.N. chief, Tillerson indicates Russia should be in the driver’s seat when it comes to the future of Syria.” Tweets Daniel Drezner, “Tillerson flips, then flops on the US position on Syria.” As Jim Sciutto notes, “This would be a significant US policy change.” 

Meanwhile, in The Humbling of Rex Tillerson, Bloomberg’s Tobin Harshaw conducts a Q&A with Steve Coll, author of “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power,” on the secretary of state’s “glorious past and dismal present.”

The final insult 

NBC News’ Michael H. Cottman reports, Thomas Jefferson's Enslaved Mistress Sally Hemings' Living Quarters Found (20,000+ shares). He writes, “Her room — 14 feet, 8 inches wide and 13 feet long — went unnoticed for decades. The space was converted into a men’s bathroom in 1941, considered by some as the final insult to Hemings’ legacy.” And then there’s the headline. Terrell Starr tweets, “1. Sally Hemmings was raped, not a ‘mistress.’ 2. Those weren’t ‘her quarters.’ 3. Shitty headline.”

China stories

@ChinaRealTime tweets, “Regretfully, we’re shutting down the blog. A look back at some of the best China stories it served up the last 9 yrs,” linking to Saying Goodbye: A Last Supper from China Real Time, from The Wall Street Journal’s Josh Chin. Writes Chin, “The China story has changed, and so have the tools for telling it.” Tweets Alyssa Abkowitz, “The end of China Real Time. Hats off to eds, esp. @joshchin @brittanyhite @tepingchen @feliciasonmez.” Esther Fung says, “It was fun reading and writing for China Real Time when I was based in Shanghai. Sad to see it go.”

In other media...

So that’s enough downer news for one recap. Let’s switch gears. At WIRED, Angela Watercutter explains, From ‘Baby Driver’ to ‘Atomic Blonde,’ Streaming Has Made Movie Soundtracks Better Than Ever. She writes, “One look—well, listen—at the multiplex this summer provides ample evidence” of the soundtrack’s resurgence.

Los Angeles Times film critics Kenneth Turan and Justin Chang discuss the best films of 2017 (so far). The Guardian’s Zoe Williams profiles Poor, capable and funny: the return of Roseanne, the sitcom that broke all the rules. And the On Point staff of WBUR offers their Best Summer Books: 2017, Staff Picks. But maybe you’ll prefer Khloé Kardashian's Beach Read Recommendations, as reported by Sam Gillette for People

Making the rounds:

Question of the Day

On Friday we asked: Newark native Queen Latifah, who is close with both her parents, has been an outspoken supporter while her mother battles which disease?   

Answer: Rita Owens suffers from heart failure as well as scleroderma, an autoimmune disease, and Queen Latifah is now a spokesperson for the “Rise Above Heart Failure” campaign.

Your question of the day for today is…Jon Hamm plays doomsday cult leader Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne in the Netflix series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” but he and the show’s star, Ellie Kemper, go way back. How did they meet?

As always, click here to tweet your answer to @MuckRack.

Career Updates
Russell named Commercial Appeal executive editor; Center for Public Integrity adds political reporters

Mark Russell has been named executive editor of The Commercial Appeal, becoming the first African-American to lead the 176-year-old Memphis newspaper. He joined the paper in 2013 as managing editor after serving as managing editor and executive editor of The Orlando (Florida) Sentinel. He previously held editing positions at The Boston Globe and The Plain Dealer (Cleveland).

The Center for Public Integrity has hired three political reporters “to bolster its investigations into the Trump administration, big-money politics and secretive political influence efforts.” Sarah Kleiner, who has been the enterprise editor for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, joins the Center this month. She previously worked as a reporter for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, The Abilene (Texas) Reporter-News and The Midland (Texas) Reporter-Telegram

Ashley Balcerzak, a money-in-politics reporter for the Center for Responsive Politics who has been at since last year, rejoins the Center this month. She was a reporting fellow for the Center’s state politics reporting team from 2015 to 2016. Her work has also appeared in The Atlantic, Slate, TIME, The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post.

And finally, Lateshia Beachum, who has been with the Center since 2016, has moved to the federal politics reporting team as a full-time reporter focusing on federal politics and government. She has previously worked for The Post-Standard (Syracuse, N.Y.), Forbes magazine and The Washington Post.

Don’t forget - if you change your job in journalism or move to a different news organization, be sure to email us (hello [at] muckrack [dot] com) so we can reflect your new title. News job changes only, please! Thanks!
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