Last night was the State of the Union Address, aka the Fact Checkers’ Super Bowl. NPR’s reporters continued their tradition of providing an annotated fact-check of the president’s speech (94,000+ shares), about which Alex Goldmark tweets, “Always impressed with my @npr colleagues for turning around these annotated speech fact checks in real time. Such great context too.” You can read The New York Times fact checking here (51,000+ shares), which is the collective work of 19 reporters. As Michael Stone sums it up “.@NYTimes finds much truth in #SOTU but also misleading, exaggerated, and false statements.”
The Washington Post also did it in real-time with live fact-checking and analysis of Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address. And at the El Paso Times, Madlin Mekelburg takes a look at one claim in particular, Trump says El Paso among most dangerous cities until fence, tweeting, “It wasn’t true when Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it in 2018, it wasn’t true when AG Ken Paxton said it in January and it still isn’t true tonight now that the president has said it. The fence in El Paso did not cut down on violent crime.”
In an update this morning, Mekelburg tweets, “BREAKING: President Donald Trump will hold a campaign rally in El Paso on Monday, Feb. 11 at the El Paso County Coliseum. This comes hours after the #SOTU, when he lied about city’s crime rate.” She links to her story about the rally, President Donald Trump to hold 2020 rally in El Paso.
Meanwhile, the staff at POLITICO has the live fact-check and transcript of the Democratic rebuttal by Stacey Abrams, and Astead Herndon tweets, “NEW STORY from me: How National Democrats are beginning to ask the same question that Georgia liberals have said for months: ‘Why isn't Stacey Abrams running for president?’” In his New York Times piece, he writes, Stacey Abrams’s Speech Stirs Questions About Presidential Run.
Let’s take a step back for a moment to what happened before the big speech. At The New York Times, Peter Baker and Michael M. Grynbaum write about a private lunch held for television anchors yesterday, Before Expected Call for Unity, Trump Laced Into Democrats at Lunch for TV Anchors. Patrick LaForge tweets those highlights: “Earlier: Trump dismissed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as ‘dumb,’ called Senator Chuck Schumer of New York a ‘nasty son of a bitch’ and mocked Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia for ‘choking like a dog.’” As Alex Wagner points out, “Nothing says unity like calling the Senate Minority Leader ‘a nasty son of a bitch.’ Wait a second.” Trump also wants you to know, “When I say something that you might think is a gaffe, it’s on purpose; it’s not a gaffe.”
More information is coming to light about the Trump inauguration committee backstory. Justin Elliott of ProPublica and Ilya Marritz of WNYC obtained a confidential memo that shows the investment firm founded by inaugural committee chair Tom Barrack developed a plan to profit from connections to the Trump administration and foreigners. Elliott notes, “Colony says the memo was never acted upon. But weeks later Tom Barrack and Rick Gates dined with Steve Mnuchin and a bevy of Mideast officials — echoing the plans outlined in the memo.”
Meanwhile, New York federal prosecutors seek interviews with Trump Organization executives, report CNN’s Erica Orden and Cristina Alesci.
Myriad theories and weirdness
Prepare yourself, because “The story of what actually happened with the Jeff Bezos sex-life story is a muddled mess, but you'll definitely want to show up for the jolting appearance of [drumroll, please] Roger Stone and Carter Page.” Will Bunch links to the investigation by Marc Fisher, Manuel Roig-Franzia and Sarah Ellison of The Washington Post, which asks, Was tabloid exposé of Bezos affair just juicy gossip or a political hit job? David Hiltbrand notices, “Wait, Jeff Bezos's ‘longtime private security consultant’ is named Gavin de Becker? Are we just recycling plots of #SiliconValley now? #BeauGeste #ShirleyBooth.”
Mark Berman describes it as “A deep dive into all things Jeff Bezos and the National Enquirer, with a look at how a Trump-backing tabloid may have gotten his text messages and the myriad theories and weirdness encompassing the saga.” As Madhulika Sikka says, “This is an incredibly exhaustive piece.” But also, as Salvador Rizzo says, “what the hell did I just read.”
Well, it does have CON in the name
“Moving beyond State of the Union. Trump says to judge him by his deals. A must read @AustinCarr on the Foxconn deal in Wisconsin,” tweets Winnie O'Kelley. Austin Carr spent months reporting on Foxconn’s move to Wisconsin, and he gives us the insider details for the new cover of Bloomberg Businessweek, Inside Wisconsin’s Disastrous $4.5 Billion Deal With Foxconn. The gist, tweets Jennifer Epstein: “49 people familiar with the Foxconn project in Wisconsin say the company has conned the state and country and it's unlikely to ever employ the promised 13,000 workers.” Basically, “There is not one whiff of good news around Foxconn in Wisconsin,” as Nilay Patel says. “Everyone involved should be embarrassed by this charade,” adds Shira Ovide.
New from Annie Linskey and Amy Gardner of The Washington Post, Elizabeth Warren apologizes for calling herself Native American (59,000+ shares), but, they note, the issue probably isn’t going away: “Using an open records request during a general inquiry, for example, The Post obtained Warren’s registration card for the State Bar of Texas, providing a previously undisclosed example of Warren identifying as an ‘American Indian.’” Tweets Gregory Korte, “It seems to me the Washington Post buried the lede.”
In other apologies, Ellie Hall of BuzzFeed News reports that Customs And Border Protection Apologized After An Agent Questioned A BuzzFeed News Reporter About Trump Coverage. And…“Not accepted,” replies Ron Lieber. BuzzFeed News reporter David Mack was stopped by an immigration agent at JFK and shares, “He was 100% convinced Mueller had personally given a press conference calling us fake news and I had to politely assure him that didn’t happen while also not wanting to piss him off any further." Yes, “There’s a media critic waiting for you at JFK’s passport control,” tweets Erik Wemple. Matt Berman points out, “This is unsettling!”
We regret to inform you
Moving on, Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times reveals this unsettling news: McClatchy Newspaper CEO Got $900,000 Bonus in 2017 Amid Layoffs. Tweets Roben Farzad, “McClatchy, which in 2006 (over)paid $4.5 billion for Knight Ridder, has been an ongoing disaster for the Miami Herald (and shareholders). But not necessarily for its execs.”
Amanda Darrach also writes about McClatchy CEO Craig Forman’s good fortunes at the Columbia Journalism Review, McClatchy upgrades CEO’s housing stipend to $35K a month amid buyouts. For context, Curtis Tate tweets, “That could pay for 12 junior reporters or six senior ones every year. Just saying.” As Arthur Delaney puts it, “CEO whose pay could cover your salary 20 times over regrets to inform you that the company can’t afford so many workers.” “‘CEO's housing stipend’ is surely the most rage-inducing phrase I’ll encounter today outside of the SOTU,” adds Kris Vire.
Newspaper-dot-com nerd talk
On to some better media news, Daniel Victor tweets, “The NYT newsroom now has 1,600 journalists, the highest headcount ever. 4.3 million people pay for our journalism (thank you). Digital advertising revenue has surpassed print advertising.” Jaclyn Peiser has all the details on The New York Times’ latest numbers: The New York Times Co.Reports $709 Million in Digital Revenue for 2018. Ben Welsh says, “Back in the mid 00s, newspaper-dot-com nerds would talk about the day when growing digital ad revenue would surpass collapsing print ad sales. We called it the ‘the day the lines cross.’ For NYT, today’s that day.”
This is a terrible idea
OK, folks, Sopan Deb has a simple request: “please, please, please. young reporters, do not do this. do not, not not not not not do this. especially today. this is a terrible idea.” He’s referring to Jill Abramson’s note-taking habits (she relies on “an almost photographic memory” instead of using a recording device in interviews), as revealed in the new How I Get It Done Q&A with Merchants of Truth author Jill Abramson, by Anna Silman of The Cut. Katherine Mangu-Ward adds, “Y'all, it makes me nervous when my waiter doesn't write down my lunch order. There are honestly no words for the sense of dread that filled me upon learning about Jill Abramson's interview technique.” Plus, as David Uberti points out, it’s an “Interesting thing to say as several people in your book question what you wrote about them.”
Brilliantly angry/angrily brilliant
And now, “Brilliantly angry/angrily brilliant by @garyyounge on Liam Neeson.” Simon Hattenstone links to Gary Younge’s op-ed for The Guardian, Liam Neeson’s interview shows that for some, black people are still not fully human. “Damn, @Garyyounge is good. This time on Liam Neeson’s racist homicidal rage: ‘“What colour were they?” he asked. This is an odd question.’ Indeed it is,” says Neil Munshi. As Younge tweets, “The next time someone asks me why I have a chip on my shoulder, I can say, with all sincerity: ‘Because there may well be an Oscar-nominated actor out there who wants to kill me, so I have to be alert at all times.’”
Let’s wrap up today with a look at 90 years of the legendary Chateau Marmont. At Vanity Fair, Mark Rozzo explores How the Chateau Marmont Became Hollywood’s Glorious, Decadent Hideaway. Tweets Vanity Fair, “As the authentic, decadent, ever-so-naughty Chateau Marmont turns 90, Vanity Fair offers a secret history of Hollywood's most notorious after-hours playground. And Stinson Carter shares, “I spent more than a quarter of my life working at the #chateaumarmont and one thing I know for sure I gained were stories, some of which I shared for this article in @VanityFair.”