Tronc keeps on giving
First up today, NPR’s David Folkenflik brings us some serious scoop on Tribune, Tronc And Beyond: A Slur, A Secret Payout, And A Looming Sale. He found out that Tribune Publishing is paying former Los Angeles Times publisher Davan Maharaj more than $2.5 million to avert a lawsuit that would have disclosed an anti-Semitic slur made by then controlling owner Michael Ferro. Ferro called Southern California billionaire and civic leader Eli Broad part of a “Jewish cabal” that ran Los Angeles. “WHAT THE HELL,” tweets Chris Krewson.
But Gady Epstein notes, “Who says there's no future in newspapers? Just become editor-in-chief, secretly record your boss saying nasty things and get paid $2.5m to go away quietly. An astounding piece of reporting by @davidfolkenflik on the dysfunction inside Tribune and LA Times.” The story also reveals, as John McQuaid says, that “Michael Ferro seemingly did everything except appoint his horse to a top position within Tronc.” The point is, “Tronc keeps on giving,” tweets Jack Shafer.
The latest “Daily” podcast episode from The New York Times looks at The Rise of Right-Wing Extremism, and How We Missed It, and Myles Miller captures the general sentiment with his tweet, “‘We’ ain’t miss shit.” Adds Josh Marshall, “um you did, we’ve been on it for a long time.” “Something I will never stop being salty about it is that in 2013 I suggested that a newsroom send correspondents to the Midwest to cover what I thought was the new branding and recruiting of white supremacists and a white bro rejected it,” says Heidi Moore. A few more: “I was writing about Gamergate in 2014, and was dismissed as a hysteric,” tweets Amanda Marcotte. “I did a documentary on the KKK and white supremacists in 2016 and I was told I was shining a light on a marginal side show that had been irrelevant for almost a century,” tweets Imran Garda. But Khalid Salaam clarifies, “The specificity regarding the ‘we’ matters a lot here.” Indeed, the headline has since been revised to specify, “How U.S. Law Enforcement Missed It.”
Going to jail
Yesterday, Michael Cohen Was Sentenced to 3 Years After Implicating Trump in Hush-Money Scandal (40,000+ shares), as Benjamin Weiser reports for The New York Times, and Michael Shear says, “It’s important to step back and think about how stunning this is. The lawyer for the president is going to jail. With all the chaos swirling around the White House for the last two years, it’s easy to forget how remarkable that is.”
And now we learn that Trump has confided to friends he’s concerned about impeachment (40,000+ shares), according to what multiple sources have told Kristen Welker, Nicolle Wallace and Carol Lee of NBC News. Ray Locker points out that “He could help change the narrative by not acting like he’s guilty of something.” Napp Nazworth highlights “tfw reality whacks you in the head ... ‘“Am I concerned that the president might be involved in a crime? Of course,” Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana told reporters Tuesday.’” And because we haven’t shared one of these lately, “I’ll believe that Trump is growing into the presidency when his staff stops talking about him like a toddler,” tweets Daniel Drezner.
But the hits are bound to keep coming. If you’re like Stephen Graves, who tweets, “I was wondering how they were going to mix things up for Season Two,” well, Erin Banco has a preview. At The Daily Beast, she writes, Get Ready for Mueller’s Phase Two: The Middle East Connection. Tweets Kate Brannen, “Trump campaign/transition team was open for business ... and the Russians weren’t the only ones who took advantage of that, as has been well documented.”
Mueller 2.0 takes the “Russia investigation” global, and the prospect of that can only lead to a...
War on Christmas parties
Yes, it’s true. Niraj Chokshi links to the report by Howard Kurtz at Fox News, Trump cancels White House Christmas party for the press (253,000+ shares). Kurtz tweets, “While Trump has canceled the press Christmas party, a few supportive commentators (including at Fox) have been invited to other WH holiday bashes.” S. V. Date notes, “Fox News media reporter spreading nonsense about Trump coverage being ‘negative.’ No. We cover what Trump does and says. If you think that paints a negative impression, well...” Parker Molloy weighs in with “My hot take: this is a good thing.” Meanwhile, Michael Schuman wonders, “What about the Hanukkah party?”
Ramping up the evil
And now, the White House again wants to expel certain groups of protected immigrants, a reversal after backing away from the policy months ago, write Charles D. Dunst and Krishnadev Calamur of The Atlantic in their exclusive, Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees (429,000+ shares). Ron Charles calls it “Ramping up the evil in the latter days.” Antonia Zerbisias’s take: “Don't look at MICHAEL COHEN! SQUIRREL! SQUIRREL!” Sarah Harvard thinks, why stop there, tweeting, “ok then can we deport the descendent of pilgrim refugees?”
Meanwhile, Almost 15,000 Migrant Children Are Now Held At Nearly Full Shelters, reports NPR’s John Burnett. Yes, fifteen thousand. “READ that number,” urges Al Tompkins. On Twitter, Burnett notes, “Sources tell me the system is teetering toward crisis. The government can add even more beds, or relax the time-consuming vetting of sponsors. They’ve got to do something...and soon.”
In other terrible news, Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times warns, “My new column from my Yemen trip is really just a photo. Brace yourself.” But be sure to click through to This Is What Our Yemen Policy Looks Like. As Karen Attiah tweets, “Don’t look away from this. It’s time for us to stop the US-funded suffering in Yemen.”
Making our climate future more dire by the day
“A social media drive. A letter quietly circulated around Congress. A partnership with a secretive organization financed by millions of corporate dollars.” Hiroko Tabuchi links to her new piece in The New York Times on The Oil Industry’s Covert Campaign to Rewrite American Car Emissions Rules. Tweets John Schwartz, “The Trump administration's car emissions rollbacks were so extreme that even automakers said they went too far. Who wanted them, then? Yeah, you guessed right. @HirokoTabuchi delivers the goods.” Michael Reilly says it’s “Easy to forget that ‘Trump’ isn’t the only single-syllable name wreaking havoc in the US political system and making our climate future more dire by the day. In many ways, ‘Koch’ may be even worse (with assistance from Facebook, naturally).”
And speaking of Facebook, ‘They don’t care.’ Sam Levin of The Guardian reports that Facebook fact-checking is in disarray as journalists push to cut ties. As Frederic Filloux tweets, “How surprising: Journalists paid to help fix Facebook’s fake news problem say they have lost trust in the platform.” And Violet Blue highlights, “Boom. Former Snopes ME after their work w/Facebook: ‘I strongly believe that they are spreading fake news on behalf of hostile foreign powers and authoritarian governments as part of their business model.’”
Clara Ferreira Marques doesn’t mince words on this one: “This is a terrible trend and the damage caused will be long-lasting. Depressing reading.” A special report from the Committee to Protect Journalists reveals Hundreds of journalists jailed globally becomes the new normal. CPJ tweets, “We have just released our 2018 prison census. On Dec 1, 251 journalists were behind bars worldwide. These are the worst jailers: Turkey 68, China 47, Egypt 25, Saudi Arabia 16, Eritrea 16, Vietnam 11, Azerbaijan 10, Iran 8, Cameroon 7, Bahrain 6, Syria 6.”
As BBC News reports, Theresa May survives confidence vote of Tory MPs. After securing 63% of the total vote, she will be immune from a leadership challenge for a year. Meanwhile, check out the latest from Alberto Nardelli of BuzzFeed News, who says, “This story is so revealing of what drives Theresa May”: Theresa May Personally Insisted That The Words “Ending Of Free Movement Of People” Be Added To The First Page Of Her Brexit Deal. He tweets, “May’s obsession with freedom of movement and immigration has defined more than anything else where the UK's Brexit predicament is today.” And David Firn notes, “Future generations will know exactly who to blame for ending their freedom of movement, it has emerged.”
Investigations and deep dives
Coaches banned for sexual misconduct are not supposed to coach in the Olympic movement again. But a USA Today investigation by Nancy Armour, Rachel Axon and Brent Schrotenboer reveals that these men are still coaching kids. “Teachers. Priests. Doctors. Olympic coaches. All fired, removed, revoked or banned for abusing children -- only turn up in a different school, different parish, different state, different gym. When do we stop having to write these stories?” tweets Gregory Korte.
“When Ko Ni was murdered, it signaled that Myanmar's experiment with democracy was in peril. @TomLasseter investigates the assassination of one of Suu Kyi's closest aides.” Peter Hirschberg links to the investigation by Tom Lasseter of Reuters, In a Muslim lawyer’s murder, Myanmar’s shattered dream. Poppy McPherson calls it a “Blockbuster investigation by @TomLasseter into the assassination of U Ko Ni - a man who was in many ways the embodiment of Myanmar's democratic dream - and the alleged conspirators' ties to the military. Must-read.”
Curious about what it might have been like to work at Tesla over the past year? At WIRED, Charles Duhigg tells the story of Dr. Elon & Mr. Musk: Life Inside Tesla’s Production Hell. Nicholas Thompson calls it “An amazing, deeply reported piece.” Highlighting this from the piece, “WIRED did hear from an outside law firm representing Tesla and Musk, which objected to the reporting and how questions were being asked, and suggested that WIRED might be sued,” Nick Bunkley points out, “Normal companies that aren’t in trouble don’t respond to media inquiries like this (nor do their CEOs do the other things described in this story).” And Timothy B. Lee thinks, “Doing PR for Tesla must be quite an experience.” He highlights, “A Tesla spokesperson said Musk ‘very much cares about individual people.’”
Really, really bad Santa
We’ll wrap things up today with a lovely little holiday story. Rob Picheta links to “Possibly the greatest story I’ve ever written: Organizers of a Christmas event have apologized to outraged parents after a fire alarm reportedly prompted Santa Claus to burst out of his grotto, rip off his beard and scream at children to ‘get the f**k out.’” That’s Picheta’s CNN piece, Foul-mouthed Santa horrifies parents. Matt Wells reveals “The headline I banned – Santa To Kids: ‘Get The Fuck Out Out.’” Tweets Scott Simon, “Another holiday story that brings tears--of laughter--to my eyes. But I hope the children recover!”