Let’s start today with a “Fascinating, honest self-assessment by National Geographic about its racist history. Good for @susanbgoldberg and @natgeo for doing it so openly,” as David Plotz tweets. National Geographic editor in chief Susan Goldberg explains, “We are kicking off a year-long series of stories about race, starting with our April issue devoted to the topic. We begin by taking a look at ourselves. My essay on @NatGeo’s past, and very different present.” That piece is For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It (11,000+ shares). Michael Fraiman calls it an “Exceptional piece by @susanbgoldberg in @NatGeo. Travel writers' careers, by definition, toe the line between education and exoticization. Travel media desperately needs an injection of more diverse (and local) voices.” “Every legacy publication should conduct -- and publish the results of -- this sort of review,” adds Wesley Lowery.
No chaos. None.
Of course, the big news this morning “Feels like a long time coming. But, wow, Tilly got fired.” John Siciliano links to the report by Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker of The Washington Post, Trump ousts Tillerson, will replace him as secretary of state with CIA chief Pompeo. “Well that's a development. No chaos. None,” says David Larter. “It’s REXIT,” is how Jacob Kornbluh is labeling it. Halle Parker looks for some perspective: “Ordinarily, I’d be mad and dismayed. I still am, but I also think this is a time period this country has to go through to become a better place; unfortunately, nothing good comes without struggle.”
Peter Baker has the story for The New York Times, Rex Tillerson Out as Trump’s Secretary of State, Replaced by Mike Pompeo, and Paul Krugman notes, “On one side, he was surely the worst Secretary of State since William Jennings Bryan. On the other, he was surely fired not for his failings but for his occasional lapses into principle.”
Also out: Trump’s Personal Assistant, as Michael Bender reports for The Wall Street Journal. Bender writes that John McEntee was escorted out of the White House for an “unspecified security issue.”
Republicans break with reality on Russia investigation
While deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein tells Kevin Johnson of USA Today that Robert Mueller is ‘not an unguided missile,’ Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju of CNN reported that House Republicans find no evidence of collusion as they wrap up Russia probe. Or as Jeffrey Feldman titles it, “Republicans break with reality on Russia investigation--wait...that's not actually the headline, but I'm sticking with my version…” “Well, here’s a surprise,” says Philip Bump. (Narrator: It was not a surprise.) Nicholas Fandos covers the story for The New York Times, Despite Mueller’s Push, House Republicans Declare No Evidence of Collusion, and Patrick Watson points out that it’s “Amazing what you don’t find when you only pretend to look.”
Others are still at work on it, though. Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey, Carol Leonnig and Shane Harris of The Washington Post report that Roger Stone claimed contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2016, according to two associates. Leoning tweets, “EXCLUSIVE: Roger Stone, a Trump ally, told *two* friends he knew of a trove of hacked emails that would damage Democrats in 2016 -- months before the public knew they existed.”
Just yesterday, Tillerson cast poisoning as sign of more aggressive Russia, which AP’s Josh Lederman reported, tweeting, “As we flew back home from Nigeria tonight, Tillerson came to the back of a plane for a brief chat - and unloaded on #Russia.” Meanwhile, Britain Accuses Russia of Poisoning-and Trump Stays Silent, writes David Frum in The Atlantic. He calls it “A guide to what would be happening now between US & UK under a normal presidency - and what is not happening now,” adding, “We’re past the point of a credible innocent explanation of the White House’s refusal to acknowledge Russian wrongdoing.”
In her piece for The New York Times, As Putin’s Opponents Flocked to London, His Spies Followed, Ellen Barry notes that “Russia now has more intelligence agents deployed in London than at the height of the Cold War.”
“Last summer, @BuzzFeedNews reported on 14 mysterious deaths in England. Now the UK is investigating.” Ben Smith links to the story, by BuzzFeed’s Patrick Smith, The British Government Will Review Allegations Of Russian Involvement In 14 Suspicious Deaths Exposed By BuzzFeed News. ”What a day out for the cat and lists website,” as Mark Di Stefano says.
For this next one, Andrew Roth sets the scene: “@willenglund steps out of shadows with lit cigarette in hand: Novichok? I haven’t heard that name in years.” He links to Will Englund’s piece in The Washington Post, ‘What is Novichok?’ The Russian nerve agent, and the scientist who revealed it. “Read this. From the reporter who broke the story of continued, secret Russian manufacture of the ‘Novichok’ group of nerve agents. (then imagine how hard this story was to break),” tweets William Booth. Plus, notes Christian Borys, “The craziest part of this report isn't how @willenglund discovered the existence of the Novichok nerve agent. It's the fact that a local newspaper, the Baltimore Sun, had a Moscow office.”
this. is. bananas. --->
Marcus Gilmer refers you to How A Player In The Trump-Russia Scandal Led A Double Life As An American Spy, the new deep dive on Felix Sater by Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold of BuzzFeed. We agree with Gerry Doyle, who says, “I'm not even sure where to start in pointing out all the astonishing details in this story.” Steve McIntyre calls it an “absolutely extraordinary story about Felix Sater, universally portrayed as evidence of Trump criminal associates. Turns out he's been an extraordinary CIA and FBI source, even managing to get 5 Osama bin Laden phone numbers. Must reading.” As David Lytle says, “Well, I didn't see that coming.”
Secrets and lies
“Happy #SunshineWeek, everybody. The federal government censored, withheld or said it couldn't find records sought by citizens, journalists and others more often last year than at any point in the past decade, @AP reports.” Lewis Kamb links to the story by Ted Bridis detailing the AP’s findings that the US has set a new record for censoring, withholding government files.
And new scoop from Hamed Aleaziz of the San Francisco Chronicle, ICE spokesman said to quit over officials’ description of 800 eluding arrest. Meagan Flynn covers the story for The Washington Post, ICE spokesman resigns over ‘false’ statements by top officials about Calif. immigrant arrests, and John Harwood says, “this is extraordinary: spokesman for ICE quits because he says Attorney General Jeff Sessions was lying about immigration.”
Profiles in courage
So it turns out “The West Wing reality show episode wherein Trump said he'd be willing to take on the NRA made for great TV, but for now, he's not doing so.” Julie Davis links to the story in The New York Times by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Michael Shear, Conceding to N.R.A., Trump Abandons Brief Gun Control Promise. As Stolberg tweets, “From Capitol Hill to the White House the N.R.A. still calls the shots.” “This president is one non-stop profile in courage,” Michelle Cottle deadpans.
On the other hand, as Tom Phillips says, “This is powerful stuff – a message from Dunblane to Parkland.” That’s Emily Dugan’s piece for BuzzFeed, These Families Lost Children In A School Massacre. Then They Changed The Gun Laws To Stop It Ever Happening Again. Tweets Janine Gibson, “22 years ago today, a gunman walked into Dunblane Primary School and killed 16 five and six year olds and their teacher. The survivors and their families have written a letter of solidarity to the students of Parkland and it's absolutely heartbreaking.”
Jim Rutenberg of The New York Times has your latest Stormy scoop: Stormy Daniels Offers to Return Payment to End Deal for Her Silence. Sarah Fitzpatrick and Tracy Connor of NBC News also report on the story, Stormy Daniels offers to pay back $130G for freedom to talk Trump. Tweets NBC News, “NEW: Stormy Daniels says she will pay back $130,000 to be able to talk about President Trump, and disclose any text messages, photos or video she may have.” To which Trip Gabriel says, “Texts, photos and videos, you say?”
Ben Casselman says, “This is one of those stories where you know it already, and yet to see it laid out in such stark terms is still incredibly powerful and utterly necessary.” That’s The Tipping Equation, by Catrin Einhorn, Rachel Abrams and Leslye Davis of The New York Times. Mike Simons adds that it’s a “Great story by @leslyedavis This is my favorite kind of story. One that is so simple. Right there for everyone and most people never think to do it. Disgusting listening to what these workers have to deal with!”
I don’t get you, Facebook
Sara Fischer of Axios reveals that Facebook is aiming to launch News for Watch this summer, and Shira Ovide is confused: “I don't get you, Facebook. It has annoyed news outlets by fanning then ignoring multiple news video projects, and now it's trying again at a trough in publishers' trust in the platform?” Alan Wolk thinks “This could work but video news may be a harder sell than audio or print. Still makes way more sense than Watch.”
How do you feel about wonky retail reporting?
“I ❤️ wonky retail reporting! Great stuff from today’s WSJ on retail shrink! They even use an info Graphic! Seriously, @WSJ top-notch!” If you’re like Jeff Macke, then you’ll want to read about How Your Returns Are Used Against You at Best Buy, Other Retailers, by Khadeeja Safdar of The Wall Street Journal. “I, too, would not be a happy shopper if I got put in ‘returns timeout.’ Good reporting from @khadeeja_safdar,” tweets Sarah Halzack. Bottom line, “Beware if you return things to the store too often; it can go against you,” warns Fred Katayama. Consider it your PSA for the day.