Naturally there turn out to be scams inside the scam

Muck Rack Daily

Naturally there turn out to be scams inside the scam
January 16th, 2019 View in browser
Muck Rack Daily

PR pros love a peek inside the minds of the journalists they pitch and work with on stories. Recently, Muck Rack’s Jessica Lawlor had the opportunity to chat with Jessica Huseman, politics reporter at ProPublica, who shared a bit about her day-to-day at ProPublica, what it was like covering the midterm elections and why she can’t use many of the PR pitches she receives in her inbox. To find out what she said, head over to the Muck Rack Blog for 6 questions with Jessica Huseman from ProPublica.


Political chaos

By now you know that MPs rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal yesterday, and it went down in a historic defeat (348,000+ shares), as BBC News reports. The 230 votes to reject represented the largest defeat for a sitting government in history. To sum up, “What an utter shit show,” as Emily Mills says.

Stephen Castle and Ellen Barry provide some background about what happened and where things stand in their New York Times report, Theresa May’s Brexit Deal Is Crushed by Parliament, Sending Britain Into Uncharted Waters. Laura Trevelyan wonders, “What now - a no deal Brexit or Brexit delayed? Is a second referendum even on the cards? Political chaos back home.” Meanwhile, Victoria McGrane says, “I mean I'm not going to say seeing another major democracy in chaos makes me feel better but…”

In his column for The Guardian, After this staggering defeat for May, our island is left lost and adrift, Jonathan Freedland writes, “This has been Britain’s European story, repeatedly seeing what was a project of peace, designed to end centuries of bloodshed, as a scam designed to swindle the Brits of their money.” Dani Garavelli highlights, “‘The spectacle of a country lost and adrift.’ This sums up the whole sorry shambles.”

Also at The Guardian, Marina Hyde offers “My bit about the Westminster Brexit shitshow,” about which Phil Cunnington says, “This is gold from the very first line.” For that, read her piece, Welcome to the Westminster apocalypse. Have you thought about theocracy instead? In it, Hyde refers to May as “the Florence Foster Jenkins of politics, insulated from the realities of her situation by weird or venal enablers.” But there’s much, much more. As Sophie Gilbert says, “This lede is so perfect I want to have its children.”

Stay up-to-date on the latest developments with BBC News live coverage here.


And now, “As only he can, @peterbakernyt steps back and looks deeply at each time Trump has met Putin as president and why those meetings are so troubling.” Michael Tackett links to Trump and Putin Have Met Five Times. What Was Said Is a Mystery, by Peter Baker at The New York Times, and “Whoa: this @peterbakernyt story reveals that Trump called a Times reporter shortly after meeting Putin in July 2017 ‘and argued that the Russians were falsely accused of election interference,’” Brian Stelter tweets. Alex Howard’s take: “Unprecedented secrecy isn’t benign. Symptoms suggest there is a cancer within our body politics that won’t be easily remedied.”

No idea what he is talking about

New from Daniel Dale of The Toronto Star, Trump’s tales about gagged women are misleading Americans about human trafficking, experts say. Tweets Dale, “As he tries to sell his wall, Trump keeps telling stories of women being bound, gagged with tape, and brought over the border in traffickers’ vans. Experts on trafficking are aghast. They say the president has no idea what he is talking about.”

An economic suicide note

Meanwhile, the Shutdown’s Economic Damage Starts to Pile Up, Threatening an End to Growth (29,000+ shares), reports Jim Tankersley of The New York Times. Tweets Noah Rothman, “Let me get this straight: We are pushing the economy into recession over $5 billion for steel slats along a portion of the border, where apprehensions are the lowest they’ve been this century?” Tweets Danielle Kurtzleben, “This graf (from @jimtankersley's excellent story on shutdown-related drags on growth) shook me. HALF A POINT OFF GDP. Based on *this administration's estimates.*” Justin Miller says it’s “Like reading an economic suicide note.”

Because of the shutdown, Pelosi is asking Trump to reschedule the State of the Union address, report Heather Caygle and Rachel Bade of POLITICO. They note that Pelosi is citing security concerns, “but Democrats also don’t want to give Trump a platform to blame them for the shutdown.”

A new kind of swamp lobbying

Well, here’s a coincidence. T-Mobile announced a merger needing Trump administration approval. The next day, 9 executives had reservations at Trump’s hotel. Jonathan O’Connell and David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post have been doing some digging into what Philip Rucker calls “a case study for a new kind of swamp lobbying: Stays at the Trump Hotel.” In fact, O’Connell spotted T-Mobile CEO John Legere in the hotel lobby and caught up with him for an impromptu interview. Legere told him, “It’s become a place I feel very comfortable.” But as the piece also reveals, “By the next evening, Legere was tweeting about the great bar at ‘my current DC hotel’ — the Four Seasons in Georgetown.” Regardless, “Kicking off a spending binge at Trump’s Emoluments Hotel the day after you announce your plan to buy Sprint is such an epic #uncarrier move, T-Mobile,” tweets Rob Pegoraro.

That’s so WeWorky

In other business news, Eliot Brown of The Wall Street Journal found out that WeWork’s CEO Makes Millions as Landlord to WeWork. Adam Neumann has bought properties and leased them to his co-working startup, sparking conflict of interest concerns. As Matthew Yglesias points out, “WeWork itself is a kind of obvious scam (borrow long, lend short in an unregulated way and pray there’s never a downturn) but naturally there turn out to be scams inside the scam.” Or as Shira Ovide puts it, “This is the most WeWork thing to ever WeWork.” But to be fair, as Christopher Mims says, “Who among us hasn't used the largesse of a Saudi-backed venture megafund to self-deal to a business from which we have already personally extracted over $100 million in cash?” Relatable!

Homegrown drug dealers

Joe Mandese notes, “Yes, drugs come into the U.S. from Latin America -- and the rest of the world -- but here’s one of the worst sources of opioid addiction: 100% domestic.” He links to the new report by Barry Meier of The New York Times, Sacklers Directed Efforts to Mislead Public About OxyContin, New Documents Indicate. Meier reports that a filing in a Massachusetts lawsuit contains dozens of internal Purdue Pharma documents suggesting the Sackler family was far more involved than the company has long contended. “That these people will evade prison is a travesty,” says Kim Masters.

The data motherlode?

At WIRED, Kate O'Neill dares to ask, Facebook’s ‘10 Year Challenge’ Is Just a Harmless Meme – Right? (173,000+ shares). But… “Let’s say you wanted to train a facial recognition algorithm on aging. What would do? Maybe start a meme like #10yearchallenge,” tweets Nicholas Thompson and now it all seems so obvious. Tony Romm thinks, “This Wired story is so smart. I kinda had this super cynical view that maybe the 10-year challenge was the data motherlode for Facebook AI, But this puts it into words better than I could.” Although Max Read says, “i get the attraction but i found this post wildly unconvincing. FB already has an enormous, rich facial-recognition dataset going back 15 years. the idea that it's ‘too noisy’ to be of use is obviously untrue given that facebook *already uses it*”

Rhymes with schmacist

HuffPost’s Yashar Ali got hold of an email from NBC News telling staffers not to directly call Steve King’s racist remarks racist. He tweets, “NEW: In an email I reviewed, NBC News standards sent guidance to staffers this morning that they shouldn’t directly refer to Steve King's comments as racist. Instead they said reporters should say, ‘what many are calling racist’ or something like that.’”

In other Steve King news, the Des Moines Register Editorial Board is urging Steve King to resign for the good of Iowa.

Media news

Michael M. Grynbaum of The New York Times brings us the scoop: Goodbye, New York. Adam Moss Is Leaving the Magazine He Has Edited for 15 Years. Of the New York magazine editor’s impact, Sam Sifton says, “it’s Impossible really to measure Adam Moss's influence on magazines and media. Big news.” Adds Jodi Kantor, “I worked for Adam Moss, when I was much younger, and it was a sublime education. But he has no idea how much he's taught me, because before that and ever since, I've been learning just from absorbing the greatness of his pages.” And Sam Dolnick says Moss is “A legend and a true virtuoso whose fingerprints are all over basically everything that’s fun in journalism.” Clara Jeffery sums up the general sentiment: “The best in the biz is stepping away.”

Cara Lombardo, Benjamin Mullin and Lukas Alpert of The Wall Street Journal report that the Takeover Bid from Digital First Interrupts Gannett’s Quest For Gizmodo. Gannett was one of a few serious bidders for Gizmodo.

Meanwhile, “The pivot to video sticks its awful claw into LGBTQ media,” tweets Katerina Ang. She links to the news that Grindr Axes Staff of LGBTQ Publication “Into” in Mass Layoff, as Daniel Reynolds reports for the Advocate, calling it “A heartbreaking loss for LGBTQ media.”

The latest literary detonation

Ed Pilkington and Martin Pengelly of The Guardian give us a sneak peek at Chris Christie’s soon-to-be-published book, “Let Me Finish,” and in it, Chris Christie accuses Jared Kushner of a political ‘hit job.’ Also, as Lisa Tozzi tweets, “Trump told Chris Christie to wear a longer tie as it would make him look thinner according to Christie’s new book.” Nicholas Kristof calls it, “The latest literary detonation.” The big takeaway, says Reid Wilson, “Chris Christie hates pretty much everyone in the Trump admin, except Trump himself.”

Wednesday round-up


Question of the Day

Yesterday we asked: The producers of what 1970s children’s television program sued McDonald’s for copyright infringement, ultimately winning a million-dollar judgment against the company?

Answer: That was Sid and Marty Krofft’s gloriously trippy kids’ show, H.R. Pufnstuf. The case alleged that the program’s copyright had been infringed by a series of McDonald’s “McDonaldland” advertisements.

Congrats to…Dan Rosenbaum, first to tweet the correct answer.

Your question of the day for today is…Who is the Bluetooth standard named after?

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


Featured Journalist: Abigail Edge

Today’s featured journalist is Abigail EdgeGoogle News Lab’s 2019 Teaching Fellow. Abigail trains journalists in digital skills such as newsgathering and verification, data journalism, storytelling with maps and more. Before joining Google she was a senior social media producer at BBC News. Prior to that, she spent three years in Denver, where she freelanced for outlets including the Guardian and VICE. Formerly technology editor at, she also spent five years as a regional news reporter and editor and is a recipient of the Guardian's Scott Trust Bursary.

Over the next 12 months, Abigail is offering no-cost Google training to newsrooms and media conferences in the UK and Ireland. She is particularly keen to work with smaller, regional newsrooms that might not normally have access to this type of training. For more details, email or check out the free courses here. And to find out more about Abigail, check out her Muck Rack Profile here.

Career Updates

New roles for Warmbir, Lerman, Foye

Steve Warmbir, who was most recently director of digital and editorial innovation at the Chicago Sun-Times, has been named managing editor. Warmbir joined the paper in 1999 and previously worked as an investigative reporter, federal courts reporter, deputy editorial editor and assistant managing editor for metro news. He began his career at the Daily Herald.

Rachel Lerman will be joining the AP technology team in San Francisco next month. For the past three years, she’s covered technology for The Seattle Times. Before that, she worked for the Puget Sound Business Journal and the Skagit Valley Herald.

Meghann Foye is joining in the newly created position of Digital Content Director. She has worked for, and Seventeen, as well as

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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