Truly our best year yet for poop journalism

Muck Rack Daily

Truly our best year yet for poop journalism
February 14th, 2019 View in browser
Muck Rack Daily

Which publications and articles got the most social shares from journalists last month? Muck Rack’s Emma Haddad has your rankings of the top publications and articles for January, according to journalists.


South Florida will never forget

Before we get into the rest of it today, take a moment to reflect on the the 17 lives lost in Parkland. One year after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Phillip Valys and Mike Mayo of the South Florida Sun Sentinel write about those we lost and the works their families carry on in their names. Tweets Valys, “South Florida will never forget. Read on and reflect about 17 lives lost, one year after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.” Adds Michael Majchrowicz, “Also, the body of work @SunSentinel has produced (and continues to produce) related to the shooting is second to none. If you spend some time on their site front today, there's plenty to appreciate. The top half of the homepage is devoted to Parkland.”

New plot twist

On Wednesday, a federal judge voided Paul Manafort’s plea deal, saying Manafort ‘intentionally’ lied to the FBI, special counsel and grand jury, as Katelyn Polantz reports for CNN. “Another stunning turn last night in Paul Manafort’s criminal proceeding. Almost every month since Manafort’s indictment prosecutors or the judge have delivered a new shocking plot twist,” she tweets.

Sharon LaFraniere covers this latest development at The New York Times, Manafort Found to Have Lied to Prosecutors While Under a Cooperation Agreement, noting, “Mr. Manafort joins a string of former Trump aides who have been found to have lied to federal investigators about their involvement with Russians or their intermediaries, including Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser; George Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser; and Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s longtime fixer and lawyer.”

Totally nuckin futs

Meanwhile, former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe has been talking about what he saw and heard after Trump fired Comey. The Atlantic has an exclusive excerpt of his new book, “The Threat,” in which McCabe writes, “Every day brings a new low, with the president exposing himself as a deliberate liar who will say whatever he pleases to get whatever he wants. If he were ‘on the box’ at Quantico, he would break the machine.” Also in that excerpt, “This call between Trump and McCabe the day after Comey was fired is totally nuckin futs,” as Josh Rogin tweets.

On CBS’s 60 Minutes, McCabe tells Scott Pelley that he ordered the obstruction of justice probe of President Trump and explains that he wanted obstruction of justice and counterintelligence investigations involving the president and his ties to Russia to be documented and underway so they would be difficult to quash without raising scrutiny. On the show, Pelley says, “The most illuminating and surprising thing in the interview to me were these eight days in May when all of these things were happening behind the scenes that the American people really didn't know about.” That includes the fact that “[t]here were meetings at the Justice Department at which it was discussed whether the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet could be brought together to remove the president of the United States under the 25th Amendment.”

“Very curious”

Well this doesn’t seem odd at all. The latest scoop from Erin Banco and Betsy Woodruff at The Daily Beast, Trump’s DHS Guts Task Forces Protecting Elections from Foreign Meddling. But why, you ask? Good question: “It’s very curious why the leadership has not committed resources to prepare for the 2020 election,” one Homeland Security official tells them. “Why would Trump DHS ‘gut’ election security unit? Gosh, maybe the obvious answer is the right one,” Dan Gillmor points out.

But don’t worry. President Trump has installed a room-sized golf simulator at the White House (90,000+ shares). David Fahrenthold and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post have the details on the new system, which allows him to play virtual rounds at courses all over the world by hitting a ball into a large video screen. It replaces “an older, less sophisticated simulator that had been installed under President Barack Obama.”

David Shortell, Laura Jarrett and Pamela Brown of CNN report that AG nominee Bill Barr’s daughter and son-in-law are leaving the Justice Department. Son-in-law Tyler McGaughey “has been detailed from the powerful US attorney's office in Alexandria, Virginia, to the White House counsel’s office, two officials said.” His oldest daughter, Mary Daly, is taking a position at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the Treasury Department's financial crimes unit.

Overstuffed swamp

What happens after people leave the Trump administration? Eric Umansky notes, “Trump admin officials are supposed to avoid lobbying for 5 years after leaving office. We found 33 former officials who are already back at it, including Ryan Zinke. Almost all work on issues they oversaw or helped shape while they were in govt.” He links to Derek Kravitz’s ProPublica story, The Lobbying Swamp Is Flourishing in Trump’s Washington. As Alex Kotch puts it, “Trump’s swamp runneth over.”

How much talent is lost

A new bombshell story by Joe Coscarelli and Melena Ryzik of The New York Times reveals, Ryan Adams Dangled Success. Women Say They Paid a Price (64,000+ shares). “Bad enough that he might beat Weinstein to jail,” notes Ron Lieber. Among other things, he’s accused of “jerking away his offers of support when spurned,” and Jane Timm says, “We will never be able to quantify how much talent has been and will still be lost to abuse. How many women cut their losses and preserved their souls at the expense of careers and passions.” “Having to perpetually question if a potential collaborator is interested in you musically or personally is an enormous and unspoken barrier for women in music. Every gatekeeper is a man. And so you have to ask yourself,” tweets The Weather Station. Jason Nark says, “Always thought Ryan Adams’ vibe was wannabe bull$shit and now i find out he’s a terrible person to boot. Allegedly.”

Oh and by the way

Just so you know, this story won’t make you feel any better. Ariel Kaminer tweets, “Happy valentine’s day! Oh and by the way ... *** Date rape drug testing is total bullshit. *** But it’s often the deciding factor in whether victims get justice. A devastating new investigation by @RosalindZAdams for @BuzzFeedNews.” That’s the new piece by Rosalind Adams of BuzzFeed News, Date Rape Drug Testing Is Totally Unreliable. As Kendall Taggart says, “You've gotta check out this disturbing new investigation from @RosalindZAdams.”

And here’s another disturbing but important read. Noah Michelson says, “This story is absolutely devastating and the only piece that has ever made me cry while I was editing it. I can only imagine the kind of superhuman strength it takes to go through this -- and then speak publicly about it -- but I’m grateful that Dina did.” He’s referring to Dina Zirlott’s essay for HuffPost, I Wish I’d Had A ‘Late-Term Abortion’ Instead Of Having My Daughter (271,000+ shares). Alana Horowitz Satlin says she “Felt physically weak after reading this beautiful and devastating piece from a mother whose child, conceived during a rape, was born with a condition that was ‘not compatible with life.’”

Livia Gershon explains, “Just in case anyone’s legitimately wondering what’s up, the story is about a child born with a congenital disease who lived a brief, very painful life.” Alexander C. Kaufman notes, “Over the past week, @HuffPost has published two heartbreaking personal essays on late-term abortions. These should be required reading in Congress.” Paige Lavender says, simply, “this story will wreck you.”

Some journalism news

The L.A. Times Guild has written an open letter to Los Angeles Times management about its intellectual property proposals. The gist: “The LATimes wants to claim sweeping intellectual property rights over books and other extra-curricular work produced by its staff. A recipe to exploit staff creativity/ambition that would have the effect of quashing those things and driving people away,” John McQuaid explains. In other words, “The L.A. Times apparently wants to own every work-related thought its journalists might ever have. Appears to be going over about as well as one might expect,” tweets Tim Logan. More than 300 journalists have signed the letter opposing the company’s proposal. As Mike Isaac puts it, “nooooooope.”

Moving on, Mike Madden observes, “Well, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette must be an interesting place to work.” The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh has released eyewitness accounts of the incident involving Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Publisher John Robinson Block. Mike Rosenberg summarizes those disturbing reports: “The publisher of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette drunkenly stumbled through the newsroom, yelling at journalists and firing them while demanding a photo of him & his daughter be put on the front page (while the daughter screamed ‘Please, please Daddy no!’).”

Meanwhile, Heidi Blake tweets, “This insane thing just happened in the UK.” At BuzzFeed News, Mark Di Stefano reports that journalists have been banned from a powerful database that lets you search people’s phone numbers and addresses, “in a move the Centre for Investigative Journalism says is symptomatic of the way ‘popular anxieties about privacy’ are gagging investigative reporting.” Until now, Trace IQ let journalists search names, phone numbers and addresses in one database – now they’ve been banned, but other groups, such as debt collectors, haven’t.

In some potentially better news, Kayla Goggin of Courthouse News Service reports on a Bill That Would Make Online Access to Federal Court Records Free.

That face when I open my eyes really wide

And then there’s “Yeesh,” as Rosemary Barton puts it. At Rolling Stone, Jake Malooley writes, Jill Abramson Plagiarized My Writing. So I Interviewed Her About It. Kris Vire calls it, “My pal @jakemalooley is a badass, part 78,492 in an ongoing series.” Conor Friedersdorf thinks, “Journalism as a field doesn’t know what to do w/ plagiarism that isn’t egregious enough to be career-ending but that is too problematic to ignore. Perhaps everyone would be better off if the answer was simply, ‘guilty parties pay $500 to wronged parties.’”

In the meantime, “Oh man, this @jakemalooley interview of @JillAbramson is ... damn. [I’m making that face when I open my eyes really wide.] Just read it,” says Elise HuMargaret Lyons has a similar reaction: “MY FRIEND @jakemalooley talked to Jill Abramson about her plagiarizing him. I raised my eyebrows so high they lifted off of my face and are now in orbit.”

Farewell, ‘our beloved Opportunity’

We can’t believe we have more depressing news to share on Valentine’s Day, but try to think about all the good things Opportunity accomplished rather than focusing on its final message, “My battery is low and it’s getting dark.”

Yes, the NASA rover has finally bitten the dust on Mars after 15 years. As AP’s Marcia Dunn reports, “Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA’s science missions, broke the news at what amounted to a funeral at the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, announcing the demise of ‘our beloved Opportunity.’” But remember, as Jesse Rodriguez points out, “They found evidence that ancient Mars had water flowing on its surface and might have been capable of sustaining microbial life.” And yet, “Not even Billie Holiday could rouse the rover,” tweets David Koenig.

“Rove in peace” tweets The Washington Post, linking to Sarah Kaplan’s story, Opportunity, NASA’s record-setting Mars rover, is declared dead after 15 years.


We’re sensing a theme this week, and it involves toilet...uh, humor, we guess? Elina Shatkin sets this one up: “And the Oscar for Headline That Gets Weirder With Every Word You Read goes to…” Or as Joseph Bernstein puts it, “Well, shit.” Katie Notopoulos of BuzzFeed News reveals that The Popular Children’s YouTube Entertainer Blippi Once Shat On His Nude Friend For A Meme Video (18,000+ shares). Alex Kantrowitz is “Reflexively skeptical of anyone who makes kids videos on YouTube. Further proof.” Jason Koebler says, it’s “Truly, truly one for the ages,” while Brian Feldman notes that it’s “truly our best year yet for poop journalism.” As JJ Velasquez reminds us, “Everyone has a past — Blippi’s just happens to involve a widely viewed, comedic video of him taking a deuce on another man.” But really, “who among us etc etc etc,” notes Harry Cheadle, and maybe let’s all steer clear of Harry.

A few more


Question of the Day

Yesterday we asked: Thanks to the PBS series “Finding Your Roots,” Marisa Tomei discovered she’s related (distantly, at least) to what one-time co-star and schoolmate?

Answer: Julianne Moore. They starred in “Crazy Stupid Love” together and also attended Boston University at the same time in the early ’80s.

Congrats to…Roberta Rosenberg and Craig Pittman, who were both quick to tweet and tied for first place.

Your question of the day for today is...Not only did Oliver Chase invent the machine that paved the way for the mechanization of candy making, his company NECCO created the Valentine’s Day staple (most years), Sweethearts. Before he and his brother revolutionized the candy industry, what was Oliver’s profession?

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


Featured Journalist: Michael Garay

Today’s featured journalist is Michael Garay, a morning anchor, reporter and multimedia journalist at WETM-TV (NBC) in Elmira, NY. He has also worked for WSYR-TV 9 in East Syracuse, NY, and his first job as a journalist was as a news assistant at NY1 News. He tells us the story he’s most proud of working on is his thesis film, “Rebound,” a documentary on St. Francis men’s basketball. Find out more about Michael and check out some of his work 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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