The denizens of Billionaire Mountain are very agitated

Muck Rack Daily

The denizens of Billionaire Mountain are very agitated
February 7th, 2019 View in browser
Muck Rack Daily

As a PR analyst in Corporate Brand Communications at Verizon, Kiarah Leite supports all external communications efforts under the CMO, including sponsorships for sports and music, corporate social responsibility and thought leadership. Muck Rack’s Emma Haddad recently sat down with Kiarah to see what a day in her life looks like and to find out what it’s like to transition from a fellowship program into a full-time role at Verizon. Head over to the Muck Rack Blog for a Day in the life: Get to know Kiarah Leite, PR analyst, corporate brand communications, Verizon.


No, Virginia

“Geez. Anyone else in Va politics have something to confess?!” asks Erin Cox, and you know what? Let’s hope not. The latest (last we checked), as Grégory Schneider and Laura Vozzella of The Washington Post report, Virginia’s three leaders are engulfed in turmoil, with AG Herring’s disclosure that he wore blackface at a college party. “WHAT THE HELL, DUDES” tweets Tim Carmody and everybody. As Greg Schneider says, it’s “Officially now a three-ring circus.”

At ABC News, John Verhovek and Kaitlyn Folmer report that Rep. Bobby Scott learned of sexual assault allegations against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax a year ago from the victim. And by the way, if you’d like to get in touch with Scott, Catie Edmondson notes, “A recording at Rep. @BobbyScott's DC office says they are closed for the day…”

Meanwhile, a Virginia police sergeant who was assigned to monitor the protests related to Gov. Ralph Northam was suspended after being identified by an anti-fascist group as having an “affinity with white nationalist groups.” Matt Stevens and Elisha Brown have that story at The New York Times. To sum up, “Virginia is for scandals,” tweets Candace Buckner.

Florida: Hold my beer

Referring to that Virginia three-ring circus, Robert Samuels thinks, “All of a sudden, Florida politics seem sane.” But...does it? As Colin Campbell tweets, “been focused on Virginia lately, let me just see what’s going on in Flor-” Well, now that you mention it, a Florida politician allegedly made a habit of licking men’s faces. Now she’s resigned, writes Antonia Noori Farzan of The Washington Post. As Mara Gay says, “There’s a first for everything.” And clearly, “Florida does not like being upstaged by Virginia,” notes Ian Bremmer. Anyway, “Ms Oakley will be replaced by a labradoodle,” tweets Jon Fasman.

“Too-hot-to-handle” issues

Over in DC, Pelosi predicts the GOP won’t trigger another shutdown, saying it’s “a too-hot-to-handle issue,” POLITICO’s Heather Caygle, Sarah Ferris and John Bresnahan report. She also gets in a little dig at the Green New Deal, and, as Scott Detrow notes, “2020 candidates are all committing to a Green New Deal, but what’s actually in it? Great question! @titonka has the details of the actual bill out today.”

For that, turn to Danielle Kurtzleben of NPR, who got ahold of the Green New Deal outline by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey (55,000+ shares). Tweets Jennifer Ludden, “Here’s the proposal that AOC has called a ‘moonshot,’ though getting to the moon may have been an easier sell politically.” “This proposal is extremely ambitious, and probably won't go anywhere any time soon, but given the state of our planet, it's long overdue,” says Sarah Gibbens.

And right on cue, It’s Official: 2018 Was the Fourth-Warmest Year on Record. John Schwartz and Nadja Popovich of The New York Times have the latest data according to NASA scientists, who says it’s a continuation of an unmistakable warming trend. Gavin A. Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which conducted the analysis, says global warming is “here. It’s now.”

The writerly treatment

Switching gears for a moment, Katie Glueck says, “you must read @mattfleg on Beto’s New York years,” so here’s Matt Flegenheimer of The New York Times, who writes, Beto O’Rourke Was Once Adrift in New York City. Now He’s Searching Again. Patricia Mazzei highlights, “‘It’s like, wait, one of the weirdo musicians might run for president.’ Always read @mattfleg.” Verne Gay puts it this way: “(What if Richard Linklater had followed Mason - Ellar Coltrane- of ‘Boyhood’ a few more years as he inevitably headed north after UT? Answer possibly here.)” And Aman Batheja is “Realizing I went to high school with like a dozen Beto O'Rourkes.”

Also, Forrest Wilder has a “Theory: Every chapter of Beto’s life gets the writerly treatment in part because most journalists closely identify with Beto, a charming professional-class ‘rebel in moderation’ (as the NYT aptly puts it) who both is and isn’t part of the power structure.”

Not a story about a male politician

And now, for a piece “filed under: you’ve never read this story about a male politician,” Tim Dickinson refers you to Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s Abuse of Staff Scared Off Candidates To Manage Her Presidential Bid, by HuffPost’s Molly Redden and Amanda Terkel. Tweets Heidi Moore, “I have no idea what it’s like to work for Amy Klobuchar and she may be an actual monster but all these anecdotes would be quirky and fun if a man did them. (Staffers crying because of ‘tardy slips’? Really?).” Adds Josh Barro, “You hear this ‘bad boss’ reputation about Sen. Klobuchar a lot, but the details one gets (she called press releases ‘the worst I've ever seen’; she scolded staffers for being late to work) feel so underwhelming compared to the reputation.” Meanwhile, Josh Kraushaar wonders if it’s a “Sign that rival Dems view Klobuchar seriously? Already HuffPo out with an oppo dump. Question: Would this be a story for a male senator?” 

Trump world

New from Rosalind Helderman and Tom Hamburger of The Washington Post, Sergei Millian, identified as an unwitting source for the Steele dossier, sought proximity to Trump’s world in 2016. Tweets Helderman, “Two years later, just who was Sergei Millian, a key source for the Steele dossier? Amazingly, it’s still unclear. But we have new details about how he sought proximity to Trump.”

Also at The Washington Post, David Fahrenthold and Mike DeBonis report that T-Mobile executives seeking merger approval booked more than 52 nights at Trump’s hotel —- more than previously known. On Twitter, Fahrenthold highlights, “One paid $2,246 per night.”

And here’s some news. Betsy Woodruff of The Daily Beast reports that Paul Erickson, the boyfriend of admitted Russian agent Maria Butina, has been indicted for wire fraud and money laundering. Charles Johnson asks, “Does anyone NOT have a grift going? Am I the ONLY one?” 

Don’t have heroes

Yesterday, we told you about Jill Abramson’s rather controversial approach to note-taking. Today, Jill Abramson, accused of plagiarism, defends her book on Fox News, reports Michael Brice-Saddler of The Washington Post. Tweets Ian Frisch, “I spoke with @washingtonpost about my concerns regarding Jill Abramson’s new book, and how she (or a member of her research team) seems to have cribbed my reporting. Thanks to @TheArtist_MBS for speaking to me about this.” He told Brice-Saddler, “To go through those passages and to see how similar they were to my own writing — for her to attribute a quote to Thomas as if he was speaking to her, when he was speaking, to me — it’s just very disheartening.” “Sigh. Say it ain't so, @JillAbramson,” tweets Tom Zeller. Also, “Don't have heroes,” advises Jina Moore.

Or maybe do

But then again, there are still some heroes out there. As David Neal says, “Looks like that whole journalism-making-a-difference thing starting to happen with a sexual abuser given a sweet deal.” He links to Julie Brown’s story at the Miami Herald, After Miami Herald report, Justice Department opens probe into Jeffrey Epstein plea deal (22,000+ shares). Tweets Brown, “‘I am in tears that someone is finally listening to our story,’ said Jena-Lisa Jones, who was molested by multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein when she was 14.” “Bravo ⁦to the brave victims & ⁦@jkbjournalist⁩ who spoke out. It’s a great start but we need to make sure the findings get out, as I explain in here,” tweets Mimi Rocah.

An interesting case

“Hey ⁦@fmanjoo⁩, you have the denizens of Billionaire Mountain very agitated this morning.” Kara Swisher is referring to Farhad Manjoo’s new column for The New York Times about an idea that’s gaining some momentum: Abolish Billionaires. As Guy Raz notes, “Does one human actually need a billion dollars? Even if that person is kind, generous and humble...does that level of wealth create an inherently corrupted system? the always-worth-reading @fmanjoo makes an interesting case.” The practicalities may be another matter. Tweets Devon Pendleton, “Good headline but really, how do you do this? Particularly those whose wealth stems from a private company (full disclosure I'd be one of many out of a job if this were to happen).”

RIP Christine Kay

Richard Sandomir has the obituary for New York Times editor Christine Kay, who has died at 54. Tweets Clifford Levy, “Here is the obituary for Christine Kay, a beloved senior editor at The New York Times who had a strong hand in shaping some of our best long-form journalism in recent decades.” Among other things, Kay was the driving force behind The Times’s post-9/11 series “Portraits of Grief.” Dan Zak notes, “Editors never get any credit. They shape ideas, crack the whip, talk reporters off ledges, rearrange and re-write copy, shepherd lives and stories — and then their name doesn't appear on the product. This editor's name was Christine Kay.”

Thursday reads

Prepare yourself, because as Suzy Khimm says, “This is an absolutely devastating read by @emily_wax.” In The parking lot suicides, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux of The Washington Post writes about veterans who are taking their own lives on VA hospital campuses as a desperate form of protest against a system that they feel hasn’t helped them. Frances Sellers calls it a “Troubling story told w piercing clarity by @emily_wax.”

In their new piece for The Washington Post, Lena Sun and Maureen O'Hagan take a look at the unique dangers of the Washington state measles outbreak and why there’s concern that things could rapidly spin out of control. Carolyn Johnson’s reaction: “Ugh. And recently when traveling back from abroad, I saw warnings about measles symptoms next to Zika, Ebola and chikungunya.”

A big new investigation by Motherboard reveals that hundreds of bounty hunters had access to AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint customer location data for years. Motherboard’s Joseph Cox has the full report on that investigation, as well as this breaking news report, Big Telecom Sold Highly Sensitive Customer GPS Data Typically Used for 911 Calls. Documents show that bail bond companies used a secret phone tracking service to make tens of thousands of location requests.

Don Martin says, “This is a jaw-dropping story. Great investigative legwork by the Globe team.” He’s referring to PMO pressed Wilson-Raybould to abandon prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, by Robert Fife, Steven Chase and Sean Fine of The Globe and Mail. The highlights, courtesy of Mark MacKinnon: “Prime Minister Trudeau’s office pressed its Justice Minister to strike a deal that would allow SNC Lavalin to avoid trial on charges of paying massive bribes to former Libyan dictator Muammar Gadafi’s regime. She refused, and now she’s out of the portfolio.”

Jessica Elgot and Heather Stewart have the details at The Guardian as Corbyn lays out Labour’s terms for backing May on Brexit. Tweets Matt Steinglass, “Shockingly, this is a responsible, country-before-party move by Corbyn. It could save Britain and the EU from the disaster of a no-deal Brexit. But it requires May to take him up on it. So far she hasn't seen a chance she didn't miss.”

And one last piece of news: Dana Hedgpeth of The Washington Post wants you to know that a possum was spotted in daylight outside the Washington Post offices. “Welcome to the Washington Opost,” tweets Dave Jorgenson.


Question of the Day

Yesterday we asked: NASCAR has its roots in what early twentieth-century business?

Answer: Illegal bootlegging/moonshine. (In a recent piece for Atlas Obscura, Tove Danovich tells the story of How a Group of Daring Bootleggers Created NASCAR.)

Congrats to…well, it looks like we’ve hit on a topic that Muck Rack Daily readers are well-acquainted with. First in with the correct answers this time were Craig Pittman, Deb Krol and Lorraine Berry. Adam Sullivan chimed in a bit later, but he shares one reason why people might know this one: “There was a great Dukes of Hazzard episode about this. (Okay, well, there was an episode about this.)”

Your question of the day for today is…What did Lindsay Lohan do to get banned from the Chateau Marmont in 2012?

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


Featured Journalist: Esdras Tsongo

Today’s featured journalist is Esdras Tsongo, an investigative journalist and freelancer based in Rwanda. He also focuses on issues of the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and is very interested in the political news, health, society and environment of the region. A contributor for Radio France Internationale (RFI), Esdras has also written for Africa Prime News, Afrique Insider, Congo Check and elsewhere. Find out more and check out his portfolio here.

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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