The war on journalism
We kick off your last Muck Rack Daily of 2018 with the alarming news that a malware attack hobbled computer systems and delayed weekend deliveries of the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers across the country on Saturday. Tony Barboza, Meg James and Emily Alpert Reyes of the Los Angeles Times have the latest on what we know at this point. It’s suspected that the cyberattack originated from outside the United States, and “[s]everal individuals with knowledge of the Tribune situation said the attack appeared to be in the form of ‘Ryuk’ ransomware.” As Jerome Taylor says, “The war on journalism has many fronts these days.” “How fragile our media and communications infrastructure still is in 2018,” adds J. Alex Tarquinio.
Meanwhile, at The Atlantic, Derek Thompson writes about “Why the future of the news business will be 19th century economics for 21st century media companies.” Read his new piece to learn why The Media’s Post-Advertising Future Is Also Its Past. Jeffrey Goldberg advises, “Dear journalism students, Please read @DKThomp on the future of the media before making precipitous career decisions.” Heidi Moore calls it a “Very smart piece about the business model for news (RIP).” Bottom line, says Anne Applebaum, “We are not going back to a world where advertising paid for journalism - ever.” In fact, we’re going back much further.
‘To be honest, it’s not a wall.’
Also coming to an end, John Kelly’s White House tenure. In a two-hour interview with Molly O'Toole of the Los Angeles Times, the outgoing White House Chief of Staff defended his rocky tenure and, among other things, said the administration gave up on the “solid concrete wall” idea a long time ago. “To be honest, it’s not a wall,” he told her. “I’m thinking maybe Mexico isn’t going to pay either,” says Matthew Yglesias. (And of course, Trump himself weighed in on Twitter with, “An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED,” and you can totally believe that, but still, maybe check out Glenn Kessler's analysis below before you put any money on it.)
Also, Kelly says they were “surprised” by Jeff Sessions’ zero tolerance policy on immigration. Overall, Chris Cuomo finds it “Interesting to hear what we reported -and what was denied by the WH for so long - now verified by general.” Reid Wilson “Can’t get over this line: John Kelly says his tenure ‘is best measured by what the president did not do when Kelly was at his side.’” “In other words, year 3 will be even wilder,” tweets Noah Bierman.
About that “Wall”
As Maggie Haberman and Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times report, Trump Digs In, Darkening Hopes for a Deal to End the Shutdown. Tweets Haberman, “The toughest part is yet to come for Trump, which is when he gets sent something and is tempted to sign it to end the standoff and is urged by his base to veto it. So far, this is noise...but 800k federal workers are impacted.” On the other hand, as Brent Staples points out, “Malignant narcissism is a helluva drug.”
Looking back over the year, Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler calls it A year of unprecedented deception: Trump averaged 15 false claims a day in 2018 (24,000+ shares). Steven Greenhouse, meanwhile, calls it “Astounding and depressing and very bad if we hope to maintain a healthy democracy.” “You know what's even more painful? The fact that his ‘base’ doesn't even care about any of this. We now live in George Orwell's dystopia,” tweets Charles Cooper.
And so it begins
Looking ahead to 2020, Elizabeth Warren Announces She Is Running for President, and Astead Herndon and Alexander Burns have details at The New York Times, writing, “The race for the 2020 Democratic nomination is poised to be the most wide open since perhaps 1992.” “And so it begins,” as Mark Getzfred says. Herndon notes, “Our reporting is that the announcement timing is not only about raising money, but staffing. In what figures to be a crowded field, announcing early allows formal job offers to ramp up infrastructure in key states.”
POLITICO’s Alex Scott Thompson has some news about one of her potential 2020 rivals, Bernie alumni seek meeting to address ‘sexual violence’ on ’16 campaign. Thompson tweets, “Exclusive: More than 2 dozen women and men who worked on Bernie’s 2016 campaign are seeking a meeting with Sanders + advisers to ‘discuss the issue of sexual violence and harassment on the 2016 campaign’ according to a copy of letter obtained by POLITICO.” Jill Filipovic says, “I am not surprised to hear that there was a culture of misogyny on the Bernie campaign. But let’s be honest: most campaigns, especially those dominated by men, have this exact problem. It’s the Bernie campaign, but it’s not just the Bernie campaign.”
When does this madness end?
“I feel like I'm living in freakin' Groundhog Day -- the exact same headline could have been written about Vietnam, Central America, or Iraq. When does this madness end?” In this case, Will Bunch is referring to the story by Mujib Mashal, The New York Times’ senior correspondent in Afghanistan, C.I.A.’s Afghan Forces Leave a Trail of Abuse and Anger. Mashal tweets, “Over several months, we investigated claims of abuse & civilian killings by CIA-sponsored strike forces in Khost & Nangarhar, often visiting sites less than 24 hours after gruesome raids. Here's the story, on front of today's @nytimes, to wrap the year.” Rob Crilly calls it “Penetrating insight into what's wrong with US approach in Afghanistan, from a man who should know.”
Elsewhere, an AP investigation by Maggie Michael finds Corruption robs Yemenis of food as country nears famine. Tweets Brian Carovillano, “An @AP investigation shows that thousands of families are not getting international food aid intended for them — often because it has been seized by armed units that are allied with the Saudi-led, American-backed military coalition fighting in Yemen.”
The Hunted, a powerful new ProPublica feature by Kavitha Surana, Hannah Dreier and Natalie Keyssar, reveals what happens when you say no to MS-13. Tweets Dreier, “When the gang MS-13 wants to recruit you, there’s a price for saying no. Five friends were stalked and threatened for refusing to join. Police did little to help. One was killed. One lost a hand in a machete attack. Then, ICE labeled them gang members.”
And now, says Martin Pengelly, “A headline that is somehow … not surprising.” That’s No-deal Brexit ferry company owns no ships and has never run ferry service (31,000+ shares), by Patrick Greenfield of The Guardian. “Why, it's almost as if Brexit is a massive con and is just designed to make certain people rich. If I was being a huge cynic of course,” tweets John Murphy. Of course.
Take some time out today to read this beautiful tribute — “The memorial David Cavanagh deserves,” as John Mulvey tweets — by John Harris at The Guardian, David Cavanagh: the writer who saw the musicians behind the music. Andrew Stafford shares, “This piece about the passing of fellow music writer David Cavanagh both saddened and sent a shiver through me. Too close to the bone. Thanks @MichaelAHann for the link, albeit such sad news.” Harris says, “This is the appreciation I wrote for The Guardian of David Cavanagh, who I first met when I was 20, and writing for Sounds. He was the best music writer of his times.” Harris highlights a number of Cavanagh’s pieces, including “perhaps his most accomplished recent(ish) piece,” a farewell to David Bowie in Uncut, “which pointed out that the finite nature of life had been a theme streaked through Bowie’s music.”
This. is. so. good.
And so, we wrap up 2018 with — you guessed it — python-riding cane toads and Fox News rage addicts.
First up, Helen Davidson challenges you to “Find me a more fitting end to the scary-weird 2018 than the appearance of a huge snake carrying 10 cane toads through a lightning storm.” We’ll wait. Davidson has that story and the video at The Guardian, Cane toads snake a ride on python to escape storm in northern Australia. Helen Nianias says it’s “The story that matters most today,” while Dan Beucke thinks, “There's a Trump tweet about immigrants in here somewhere.”
And then there’s Lauren Hough’s new piece for HuffPost, I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America (59,000+ shares), which offers a “glimpse of the suburban grotesque, featuring Russian mobsters, Fox News rage addicts, a caged man in a sex dungeon, and Dick Cheney.” If that doesn’t get your attention, Joe Rogan boils it down: “This is a great article by a lady that worked as a cable tech and saw some awful shit.”
Seyward Darby highlights, “This. is. so. good. ‘She blinked back the flood of tears she’d been holding since God knows when. She said, ‘It’s just, when he has Fox, he has Obama to hate. If he doesn’t have that…’” Virginia Sole-Smith tweets, “My question for @laurenthehough after reading her brilliant piece: On top of having nowhere to pee, did you ever get to eat? The torture inflicted on #cableguys to ensure Old White America has its Fox News is f*cking absurd. Must read.” Learn from Rebecca Schoenkopf’s experience: “I had this tab open for later because i was too busy fighting with people, and what a stupid decision THAT was! you read it now, not later, and be happiest!” Adds Ashley C. Ford, “I would end my year on a high note by not reading anything else online after this.”