How the hell does this happen?

Muck Rack Daily

How the hell does this happen?
March 5th, 2019 View in browser
Muck Rack Daily

April 20th will mark 20 years since the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado. For his “Shaping Opinions” podcast, Tim O’Brien recently interviewed Dr. Jaclyn Schildkraut, author of “Columbine, 20 Years Later and Beyond: Lessons in Tragedy,” and she pointed out that journalists, the news media and communicators can help inhibit the possibility of some school shootings by not mentioning the names of the killers. For more on the “No Notoriety” campaign and what you need to know as this anniversary approaches, be sure to read Tim’s latest Muck Rack Blog post on Responsibility in journalism: What communicators can do to remove incentive for potential Columbine copycats.


RIP fantasy boyfriend, absolute gem

Generation X is famous for being forgotten, and for the most part, Gen Xers feel like, oh well, whatever nevermind. But be nice to Gen X today, OK? With the news that Luke Perry died at age 52 yesterday following a massive stroke, Linda Holmes captures the general sentiment: “It feels wrong to be writing a remembrance of Luke Perry, who died Monday at only 52 following a stroke last week. It feels like it cannot be, like he was just here, like he was just narrowing his eyes into the California sun only weeks ago. Maybe months at most. But here we are.” Read Holmes’ tribute to Perry at NPR, Luke Perry, ‘Riverdale’ And ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ Star, Dies At 52, “[i]n which I add my voice to those who are just so sad -- even sadder than I expected to be -- about Luke Perry, who was really, really good at playing a fantasy boyfriend,” as she tweets.

Jessica Taylor tweets, “Luke Perry was an absolute gem and this memory from Colin Hanks shows one of the many reasons why.” Read that Instagram story by Colin Hanks about Perry, the “balloon man/hero” here.  

At CNN, Jill Filipovic tries to help us understand Why Luke Perry's death stops us short, writing, “For Perry's older fans, his death is a reminder of a youth that is receding in the rearview mirror, even as mortality is approaching way too fast.” Tweets Marie Malzberg, “This @JillFilipovic piece speaks to many of us.”

Will Thorne has the Variety obit, Luke Perry Dead: ‘90210,’ ‘Riverdale’ Star Dies at 52 (175,000+ shares), and Danielle Dana tweets, “My nineties self just died a little.” “How the hell does this happen?” Larry Buhl wants to know. As Yiannis Baboulias says, “Oh fuck off, world.”


New from Rebecca Ballhaus, Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld at The Wall Street Journal, an attorney for Michael Cohen raised the possibility of a pardon with attorneys for the president and his company after federal agents raided Mr. Cohen’s properties in April, according to people familiar with the discussions. Tweets Michael Saul, “Michael Cohen testimony: ‘I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from Mr. Trump.’ WSJ tonight: An attorney for Michael Cohen raised the possibility of a pardon with Trump’s attorneys. Cohen spokeswoman: ‘Mr. Cohen stands by his testimony.’” Hmmmm… Although Gabriel Snyder thinks, “Any WH attempt to paint Cohen as turning on Trump because he didn’t get a pardon just plays up the fact that Trump has already politicized and corrupted the presidential pardon.” However you want to look at it, “Michael Cohen is not a hero,” tweets Judd Legum.

Not a witch hunt

However, Former Trump White House lawyer Ty Cobb is calling Mueller ‘an American hero,’ and says the probe is no witch hunt (21,000+ shares). That’s from an exclusive interview with Cobb for an episode of ABC News’ podcast The Investigation. Kyra Phillips, Katherine Faulders, Matthew Mosk and John Santucci have the story at ABC News, and Cobb goes on to say that, although he believes the report will spare the president from any serious political harm, “I think the world of Bob Mueller. He is a very deliberate guy. But he’s also a class act. And a very justice-oriented person.” “Meet Hospice Nurse Ty Cobb,” is how Karen Schwartz puts it, and we appreciate the segue, because...

Famous last words

You know who else is thinking about the Mueller report? Elderly Trump critics, apparently, who are awaiting the report — sometimes until their last breath, according to a new story by Tim Mak at NPR. That’s right, “This is a wild story about how elderly Americans in their 90s are hanging on to life by a thread in the hope of seeing the Mueller report,” as Sahil Kapur tweets. Who would have imagined someone’s dying words would be, “S***, I’m not going to see the Mueller report, am I?” Tre Baker, for example, says, “My second-to-last words will likely be, ‘Wait, they’re finally releasing a remaster of ‘New Day Rising’?’” But no, this is the world we now live in. Also, as Kathleen Hennessey says, “I love journalism.”

Thank you, science

Let’s talk about some good news. Apoorva Mandavilli reports for The New York Times that for the second time since the global epidemic began, a patient appears to have been cured of infection with H.I.V. (572,000+ shares). “Medical science never ceases to amaze,” tweets Martin Bryant. Mandavilli notes that the scientists are calling it a long-term remission, “but most experts are calling it a cure, with the caveat that it is hard to know how to define the word when there are only two known instances.”

Also, some good news verified: The MMR vaccine does not cause autism, another study confirms (155,000+ shares). Edith Bracho-Sanchez has the details on that study at CNN. Of course, this is a bit confusing — as Chris Vanderveen tweets, “But I read on the internet that it does.”

Amazon things

And back to the less-than-good news. At The Guardian, Julia Wong reveals that Amazon appears to be helping fund anti-vaccine not-for-profit organizations through its charity arm, the AmazonSmile Foundation. Wong points out, “Amazon customers can choose from one of more than one million eligible tax-exempt public charitable organizations.” Chris Macdonald thinks, “Sometimes big business means big challenges. Is Amazon doing enough here?”

And here’s some more Amazon-related news. From Ben Collins at NBC News, a Qanon conspiracy book is climbing the Amazon charts — with an algorithmic push. “The book claims without evidence a variety of outlandish claims,” writes Collins, “including that prominent Democrats murder and eat children and that the U.S. government created both AIDS and the movie Monsters Inc.” Michael Kruse’s take: “Things are not OK.” On Twitter, Collins adds, “I want to note that we asked Amazon for comment on this Saturday, they asked for more time, then told us they had no comment on the record last night and this morning. It’s unclear how much this ‘book’ is being recommended on Amazon, and to whom.” 

After the storm

At, Leigh Morgan reports that the Alabama tornado count could climb today; more storm surveys planned. What happens after the storm? For “A fascinating look at how federal disaster recovery money favors the rich and exacerbates income inequality,” Alan Gomez recommends Rebecca Hersher’s new piece for NPR, Amid Climate Change, FEMA And Government Aid Widen Wealth Inequality. As NPR tweets, “An NPR investigation found federal disaster spending often makes existing wealth inequality worse. Put another way: After a storm, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

Maggie Haberman links to some “Really harrowing reporting” by Sheri Fink and Caitlin Dickerson at The New York Times. Their story, Open Wounds, Head Injuries, Fever: Ailing Migrants Suffer at the Border, is based on a New York Times review of records and dozens of interviews with migrants, agents, researchers and health workers. Dickerson says, “We found years of ignored warnings and entrenched problems with the Border Patrol’s healthcare programs, after two children died in custody. Their deaths reflect longstanding issues that will have to be overcome as the agency attempts an overhaul.” As Scott Bixby highlights, “Doctors at the border say the care provided to migrants by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has been so poor that they have had to send new arrivals straight to emergency rooms.”


Yeesh. “In one case, TripAdvisor responded by suggesting the woman leave a first person review detailing her sexual assault on the website. A must-read report by ⁦⁦@RossalynWarren.” Aisha Gani is tweeting about Rossalyn Warren’s new piece for The Guardian, Hotels at centre of rape allegations promoted on TripAdvisor. As Alex Hannaford explains, “If you’re sexually assaulted or raped at a hotel listed on @TripAdvisor, the company says: just put that in your first person review.” Or as Amie Tsang says, “What.”

Word of the day: garbage

In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Henry Olsen writes that Ilhan Omar is the Steve King of the left, and Christopher Mathias offers his analysis of that argument: “As someone who has covered Steve King for a long time now, let me state this very clearly: this is fucking garbage.” David Waldman notes, “I’m not up to date on what she said, but it almost cannot matter in this context. Steve King’s rap sheet is miles long and decades old. There is no comparison, and making one is transparent bullshit and clickbait.” Adds Andrew Kaczynski, “A part of the reason this op-ed doesn't quite work, is that Omar is a relatively powerless member of Congress who has already been condemned by her party leadership a month in. Whereas, Steve King got praised by the vice president last year.”

Mike Guy says, “I know it's the Op-Ed page, but hey @washingtonpost publishing this mentally challenged garbage shows egregiously poor editorial judgment.” We’re sensing a theme here, because Brendan O'Connor tweets, “This garbage is written by someone who is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, which, in addition to being funded by the standard far right ghouls (Kochs, Scaifes, Bradleys) helped spread the false identity theory during the Kavanaugh hearing.” But also, as Tom Scocca points out, “What's still somehow astonishing and cuts to the core of the whole charade is the way the writer leaves out Steve King's entire prior history of overt white nationalism and Nazi sympathies.”

A few more

New scoop from Dustin Volz at The Wall Street Journal, Chinese Hackers Target Universities in Pursuit of Maritime Military Secrets. The University of Hawaii, the University of Washington and MIT are among the more than two dozen universities in the U.S. and around the globe that have been targeted.

At The New York Times, Charlie Savage reports that the Disputed N.S.A. Phone Program Has Been Shut Down, Aide Says. Savage explains, “The NSA months ago shut down its system for analyzing logs of Americans’ domestic phone calls & texts - which traces back to programs set up after 9/11 and revealed by @Snowden, upending the debate over whether to reauthorize the expiring Freedom Act.” But now Conor Friedersdorf is thinking, “Does the NSA now have a new secret tool that made this older, exposed tool redundant? One wonders because the national security state feels entitled to keep such things secret from the public for years on end.”

The latest from David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell of The Washington Post, T-Mobile acknowledges its patronage of Trump’s Washington hotel increased sharply after announcement of merger with Sprint. Madhulika Sikka says it’s an “Important follow up to accountability journalism from @OConnellPostbiz & @fahrenthold.” You may remember their story from January, T-Mobile announced a merger needing Trump administration approval. The next day, 9 executives had reservations at Trump’s hotel. T-Mobile executives have spent about $195,000 at Trump’s D.C. hotel since announcing the merger with Sprint. “Nothing to see here, move along,” as Timothy Noah says.

“Today was the first time since 1995 that a Division I-AA team visited the White House. The past two WNBA teams weren’t invited nor was the Notre Dame women’s basketball team, who won title front of crowd of 19,599. The North Dakota Bison won before 17,802.” Also at The Post, David Nakamura asks, ‘Where are the women’s teams?’: Trump ignores women’s champions in White House sports ceremonies.

The Financial Times announced that it has acquired a majority stake in European tech/startup news and events company The Next Web.


Question of the Day

Yesterday we asked: New Orleans bar operator Billie Karno has filed a lawsuit claiming other Bourbon Street bars are violating his trademark for what?

Answer: That would be his Huge Ass Beers™. Happy Mardi Gras! We certainly have fond memories (although admittedly not very clear memories) of those budget-friendly beverage options at Mardi Gras.

Congrats to…Dan Rosenbaum, first to tweet the correct answer and to point out, “Karno appears to have a colorful litigation background, btw…”

Your question of the day for today is…What current state governor is also a part-time stock car racer?

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


Featured Journalist: Sharon Braithwaite

Today’s featured journalist is London-based freelancer Sharon Braithwaite. Sharon has four years of experience in news reporting in Pisa, Italy, where she worked at Corriere Fiorentino and Il Tirreno. She’s now working on her international journalism MA at City, University of London. Sharon is currently looking for work experience/internships in London, UK, so be sure to head over to her Muck Rack Profile to find out more about Sharon and check out her work.

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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