This is our country now

Muck Rack Daily

This is our country now
November 8th, 2018 View in browser
Muck Rack Daily

Get a peek inside the minds of the journalists you pitch and work with on stories. Muck Rack recently had the opportunity to chat with Ry Crist, senior associate editor at CNET. Head over to the Muck Rack Blog to get to know Ry a bit better and find out how he answered six quick questions about how to stand out in his inbox, his current favorite piece and where he finds story ideas.

 
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Again

We wake up this morning to the news of yet another mass shooting. “Again,” as Colin Dunlap says. The Los Angeles Times team of James Queally, Richard Winton, Alene Tchekmedyian, Sean Greene, Sarah Parvini, Brittny Mejia, Andrea Castillo and Hannah Fry have the latest as a gunman kills 12 at a Thousand Oaks, California bar packed with college students. One heartbreaking detail: Some were survivors of last year’s Las Vegas massacre.

Jose A. Del Real, Gerry Mullany and Russell Goldman of The New York Times report, 12 Killed in California Shooting; Gunman Targeted Bar in Thousand Oaks. Tweets Del Real, “I’m here in Thousand Oaks, Calif., where a gunman unleashed a barrage of bullets at the Borderline Bar & Grill. There’s still a lot we don't know. But I spoke to several young man and women who were inside when it happened.” Josh Levs thinks, “If the smallest government in the entire world had only one responsibility, it would be to prevent madmen from picking up guns and shooting innocent people. America is failing epically under our current leadership. It's a political and cultural #epicfail.” It’s gotten to the point where “Going outside in America feels like roulette,” as Ben Wolford puts it.

More coverage from NBC News’s Kurt Chirbas and Alexander Murray Smith, who report that several hundred people were inside the venue at the time, according to police. The gunman later was confirmed dead. Also among the dead, Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year police veteran. Tweets Lorrie Goldstein, “And in other news: As with all things, the more something happens the less it's treated as big news. That mass shootings are now commonplace is terrifying.”

The day after

Jeff Sessions Is Forced Out as Attorney General as Trump Installs Loyalist, report Peter Baker and Katie Benner of The New York Times, and let’s just say it wasn’t a huge surprise. Here’s how we know: Tweets Baker, “How long has Sessions been twisting in the wind waiting for the axe to fall? This story on his firing was first written in July 2017 and kept in our files so it would be ready when the final blow eventually came.” As per usual, “Trump couldn’t face Jeff Sessions himself. He had to send John Kelly,” notes Reid Wilson.

Also of note, Matthew Whitaker, Sessions’s replacement, wrote in a column for CNN last year that Mueller would be going too far if he examined the Trump family’s finances. Norman Goldman thinks, “The question the media seems to be ignoring is: Can he legally do this - install an un-nominated, un-confirmed political hack into the job? I have my doubts…”

More on that from Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey at The Washington Post in their story, Jeff Sessions forced out as attorney general (136,000+ shares). On Twitter, Zapotosky highlights, “So many new details in our Sessions piece: *Sessions asked to stay on until week’s end & was told no *Trump told advisers Whitaker is loyal & wont recuse  *Sessions shared concerns about Mueller pace, but felt he was protecting Russia probe by staying.” Back to Baker’s point about having written this story in 2017, Dawsey says, “Notice what Trump did with Sessions. Initially there was lots of resistance to his firing. But Trump attacked, harassed, taunted him so much that it became seen as inevitable -- and even just necessary -- to close this chapter.”

Continuing that theme, NPR’s Carrie Johnson writes, Jeff Sessions Forced Out As Attorney General After Constant Criticism From Trump (269,000+ shares).

Scammer, shady, shadowy, spy

For more on Whitaker, Jessica Lipscomb links to the “Great scoop by @britsham”: Trump's Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Was Part of World Patent Marketing, a Miami-Based Invention Scam Company. That’s from Brittany Shammas of Miami New Times. “Meet the chief law-enforcement officer of the United States of America,” tweets Tom Scocca. Helaine Olen adds, “Last week, I wrote about how Trump can be explained by his time in the shady world of #MLM multi-level marketing. More proof: I just realized Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker served on the board of World Patent Marketing, a notorious rip-off scam.”

“An acting Attorney General involved in shadowy business ventures in South Florida in 2014?” tweets Harris Meyer. All that and more. In their story about Whitaker, Adam Goldman and Edward Wong of The New York Times write, Trump Installs a Critic of the Mueller Investigation to Oversee It. Tweets Goldman, “Senior Justice Department officials have viewed Mr. Whitaker with intense suspicion. His is seen by department officials as a partisan and a White House spy.”

This is beyond

In case you missed it, CBS News live-streamed Trump’s news conference after the midterm election results, recapping it this way: Combative Trump brawls with media and slams his own party. During that news conference, Trump told CNN’s Jim Acosta that he should be “ashamed” of himself, that he is “a rude, terrible person,” and that CNN is an “enemy of the people” when it reports “fake news.”

Following the news conference, the White House suspended Costa’s press pass (256,000+ shares), as Amy B Wang and Paul Farhi report for The Washington Post. Tweets Dana Milbank, “I don't necessarily agree with @acosta 's approach, but this is beyond anything in the 5 administrations I've covered. No journalist should attend, nor cover, a single presidential event or briefing unless and until Jim's access has been restored.” Joshua Bowling adds, “this Washington Post story is a good rundown of what actually happened with @Acosta today, despite the doctored video being circulated by Sanders and others.”

Peter Baker of The New York Times also covers the story, Trump Bars CNN’s Acosta From the White House, quoting Olivier Knox, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, who said the association “strongly objects to the Trump administration’s decision to use U.S. Secret Service security credentials as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship. Revoking access to the White House complex is a reaction out of line to the purported offense and is unacceptable.” In their statement, the ACLU called the behavior “unacceptable and un-American.”

CNN’s Brian Stelter notes, “One day before the midterms, Trump said ‘I would like to have a much softer tone.’ One day after the election, he snapped at the White House press corps, called reporters ‘rude’ for asking questions, and made baseless claims about polls.” He writes about CNN’s response, CNN calls Trump's press attacks “un-American” after contentious news conference (188,000+ shares), calling the action “a stunning break with protocol.” Tweets Diane Tuman, “Just watched the interaction between Acosta and Trump. Acosta did NOT put his hands on the intern. She leaned into his body trying to get the mic. This is our country now: Lying and censoring any question the WH doesn’t like. Trump is so weak.” 

If you can stand it, Olivia Paschal and Madeleine Carlisle of The Atlantic have helpfully compiled The 10 Most Dumbfounding Moments From Trump's Post-Election Press Conference.

Another brazen attack

Outside the US, officers who identified themselves as working with the Tanzanian immigration authority detained Angela Quintal, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Africa program coordinator, and Muthoki Mumo, its sub-Saharan Africa representative. Tweets Simon Allison, “Shocked to hear that @angelaquintal and @muthokimumo from @CPJAfrica have been detained by Tanzanian authorities. They must be released immediately. Yet another brazen attack on basic rights from Magufuli's government.” This morning, Michael De Dora tweeted an “UPDATE: Quintal and Mumo were released and have left Tanzania. During their detention, their passports, phones, and computers were seized. A false tweet was sent from Quintal's personal Twitter account, and repeated attempts were made to access her email.”   

So banana republicky

The latest from Georgia, Brian Kemp’s lead over Stacey Abrams narrows amid voting complaints in Georgia governor’s race, report Amy Gardner, Beth Reinhard and Aaron C. Davis of The Washington Post. They write, “While some voters waited in hours-long lines in Fulton County, 700 of those machines sat in stacks in a warehouse in downtown Atlanta, [elections director Rick] Barron said. The machines were sidelined because they are evidence in a lawsuit alleging the equipment had been exposed to the threat of hacking in 2016.”

Tweets Steven Greenhouse, “There were so many irregularities in how Brian Kemp ‘won’ Georgia's election & it was so banana republicky for Kemp to oversee the election that a federal judge should order a new election & force Kemp to recuse himself from administering the vote.” Jordan Chariton wonders, “Is there no longer a Federal Election Commission or Department or Justice in this country? This is the most blatant theft of an election in recent memory...if not for mass purges, Stacey Abrams would have won by a comfortable margin.”

Now, Allan Smith and Morgan Radford of NBC News are reporting that Kemp has resigned as Georgia secretary of state as governor’s race remains too close to call.

Meanwhile, Mark Niesse of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes a look at Why some voting machines sat unused on busy Georgia Election Day.

Half repulsed, half impressed

Remember, kids, “You can achieve anything you want if you just think positively,” says Tom Peck. Exhibit A: Dutch man, 69, starts legal fight to identify as 20 years younger, reports Daniel Boffey of The Guardian. But “Isn’t this just called ‘Hollywood’?” asks Jonathan Dean. “This story really keeps delivering, paragraph to paragraph,” notes Guy Lodge. Bonnie Malkin is “Half repulsed, half impressed by this idea,” while Sharon Nadeem says it’s “me every birthday after 25.” 

Making the rounds

 
Watercooler

Question of the Day

Yesterday, we asked: Who was the first animated character to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

Answer: Mickey Mouse

Congrats to…Craig Pittman, first to tweet the correct answer.

Your question of the day for today is…Who was the first pro athlete to be named People’s Sexiest Man Alive?

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

 
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Featured Journalist: Abhishek G Bhaya

Today’s featured journalist is Abhishek G Bhaya, currently the International Editor at CGTN Digital, Beijing, where he manages the world news section and routinely writes on geopolitical and international affairs, with a particular focus on Middle East, South Asia and Asia Pacific regions. He also serves as the editor of the London-based MJR Group. Over the course of more than two decades in print, digital and broadcast media, he has worked with many reputed news organizations in the Middle East, India and China, including The Times of India, Channel 7, Gulf News, Khaleej Times and Muscat Daily. He says the tools and software he uses to do his job include, "Mostly my brain, with a dash of observation & analytical skills ;-)” Find out more about Abhishek by checking out his Muck Rack profile here.

 
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