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It’s so quaint that politicians still get pissed at the press and utter some version of Mark Twain’s, “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.”
That was underscored again Monday by Donald Trump, who tweeted, “If the press would cover me accurately and honorably, I would have far less reason to ‘tweet.’ Sadly, I don’t know if that will ever happen!”
This is no longer about ink. It’s all about tweets in Trump’s unceasing, politically pleasing campaign against the media.
People chatter about the impossibility of Trump continuing to tweet after he becomes the most powerful person on the planet. Surely, the Secret Service will tell him to cease and desist, right?
John Feehery, a Republican consultant who was a bigshot aide for top congressional Republicans, says, “He tweets, therefore he is. Twitter gives him a platform to say whatever he wants completely unfiltered. The media can’t and won’t do that for him.”
Trump is the exemplar of a new maxim, disclosed here for the first time: If you can’t take the heat, sit down and tweet. It’s weak and sad. But it’s also the new reality.
Richard Parker of Harvard’s Kennedy School, says, “With apologies to Mark Twain: Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were president-elect; but I repeat myself.”
Then there’s Dennis Culloton, a Chicago corporate and political consultant who was once spokesman for a Republican Illinois governor.
“Like it or not, with nearly 17 million followers on Twitter, President-elect Trump has a bigger audience than the mainstream media he assails. Never pick a fight with someone who buys tweets by the barrel.”
Fast action in Pittsburgh
Some polling folks contacted me about curious election numbers in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, seemingly doubling (in some instances) Trump’s official numbers as provided by local election officials.
For example, on the paper’s website, in the town of Carnegie Trump topped Clinton by 3,148 to 1,944. Using the official Allegheny County website, it shows Clinton winning by 1,959 to 1,886. Similarly, in Castle Shannon, the paper says Trump won 3,646 to 2,292 But Allegheny has Clinton winning 2,303 to 1,828. There are other examples and, in Allegheny County as a whole, the paper nearly doubled Trump’s number.
David Shribman, the paper’s esteemed Pulitzer Prize winning editor, says those numbers will now come down until it can figure out what happened. “This is a huge mystery to us, too.”
Lillian Thomas, the news editor who supervised election coverage, said she was mortified over the mistakes. She said the paper will quickly get to the bottom of why its Trump numbers were jacked up in Allegheny but not those of other candidates.
Tweet of the night
As the Indianapolis Colts were humiliating the home New York Jets on “Monday Night Football,” Wall Street Journal sports reporter Jason Gay declared, “I think the cast of New York Jets should apologize to Mike Pence tonight.” (@jasongay)
Nice digital news at The Times
The New York Times has added 200,000 digital-only subscribers during the fourth quarter, helped along by an election bump and Trump’s recurring antagonism. (Poynter)
That is impressive, and especially so if those subscribers stick. It also noted that 13 percent of subscribers are now international. (Nieman Lab)
The Outline, more than outlined
Joshua Topolsky, a former Bloomberg and Verge editor, debuted The Outline as he aims “to establish a next-generation version of The New Yorker while also fixing many of the ills facing digital publishing and advertising.” (The Wall Street Journal)
“Among the debut articles are pieces examining gender fluidity and whether Russian hackers could really have rigged the presidential election. There will be a mix of long-form, deeply reported stories, and what Mr. Topolsky calls ‘smart aggregation’ — where a key quote from an article covering Kanye West’s recent comments on President-elect Trump is highlighted in bold lettering on top of a large image, with links to its original source.”
Says Poynter, “Scrolling through the site — especially if you read it on your phone — feels like sitting down with the print edition of a new magazine. Above all, 15 minutes reading The Outline leaves one with the impression of consuming something with a beginning and an end, which is a rarity for news websites.” (Poynter)
Not quite Jim VandeHei
The Politico co-founder tweeted the other day about a desire for newsletter writers with readerships of at least 10,000 for his new digital venture. That’s a bit different than what I found last night in The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle in Cheyenne.
“Much has been made lately of the ‘liberal bias’ of the mainstream media,” writes managing editor Brian Martin. “But the main goal of any professional journalist is to provide readers with opinions from all parts of the political spectrum. And that continues to be our objective here in Wyoming’s Capital City.”
“Lately, however, many of our local columnists have skewed left of center, which is why I’m issuing an invitation today to those interested in writing about local, state and regional issues, especially from a more conservative point of view.”
“As we work to shape the future of the WTE’s Opinion pages, I’d like to include more local voices from a variety of perspectives. (And I’m not talking about people with an opinion in support of or opposed to our president-elect.)”
Unlike with VandeHei (in theory), “Unfortunately, there’s no financial gain to be had – just the appreciation of a local newspaper editor and many of the paper’s readers.” (WyomingNews)
Count me out. The nearest minor league ballpark was 174 miles away at Mike Lansing Field, home of the Casper Ghosts. But they’ve now moved to Grand Junction, Colorado. The Ghosts are now the Rockies.
Journalists, scram to Silicon Valley
“Internship salaries in engineering and product management can exceed $6,000 a month, but full-time salaries are even more impressive. According to data collected by Jesse Collins, a Valley intern-turned-employee, the average annual salary for a first-year Silicon Valley worker is more than $105,000, plus a nearly $13,000 stock bonus and almost $26,000 cash bonus. The national wage index is $48,098.63, according to data last compiled by the Social Security Administration in 2015, or about a third of what an entry-level engineer might earn at Facebook or Amazon.com.” (Bloomberg)
This just in…
Pitchfork: “J. Cole’s fourth studio album, 4 Your Eyez Only, is out December 9 via Dreamville/Roc Nation. Now, the North Carolina rapper has revealed the tracklist for the album.” (Pitchfork)
Meanwhile, old geezer Rolling Stone offers video of President Obama and Stephen Colbert honoring the Eagles, Mavis Staples, James Taylor, Al Pacino and Martha Argerich at the Kennedy Center Honors. (Rolling Stone)
Chicago Magazine’s Whet Moser shows how “New Deal-Era Maps Show Racist Redlining and Anti-Density Forces at Work” in Chicago. (Chicago Mag) It derives from amazing, if disturbing, data collected during the New Deal era by the federal Home Owners Loan Corporation, which gave out loans of $850 billion (in current dollars), or about 20 percent of the nation’s mortgages back then.
Its employees also crunched tons of data to create so-called risk maps, or redlining maps deemed “the Rosetta stone of 20th century cities in the U.S.” Now you can get all of it via Mapping Inequality, an online site created by academics. It’s a dandy resource. (Mapping)
The morning babble
“Fox & Friends” opened with a firefighter shot while on duty, then pivoted to the Trump transition and the Trump Tower arrivals today to include Laura Ingraham, the radio talk host and Fox News pundit (presumably for an inside communications chief post or a outside slot as press secretary).
CNN’s “New Day” speculated on Trump’s Secretary of State pick, with co-host Chris Cuomo seemingly playing devil’s advocate with a “Why not Rudy Giuliani?” line of inquiry.
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Mark Halperin stood fast in not bashing Trump’s discussion with the Taiwan president. He cited an unnamed former top security official as saying “a little unpredictability” in foreign relations is fine, too much is scary. Joe Scarborough waxed a bit politically incorrect with a declaration that past administrations have “kowtowed” to China.
A true public service
Recode offers all of us an important generic column template to be used “by political journalists and thought leaders at any time leading up to Donald Trump’s inauguration and, with slight modifications, during his presidency. For maximum Facebook shares, pair this column with a photo of Trump making a wacky, unflattering face.” (Recode)
Just fill in the blanks:
“On [day of the week], President-elect Donald J. Trump fired off an incendiary tweet about [a CNN reporter/his magnificent collection of snakeskin belts/chemtrails].”
“The tweet was retweeted over [#] thousand times and received quick condemnations from [the mainstream media/action movie superstar Wesley Snipes/the CEO of Slim-Fast].”
“But the real story isn’t the tweets. The real story, as usual, is [graft/incompetence/Anthony Michael Hall being named Surgeon General].”
“If Donald Trump proved one thing during the campaign, it’s that he is a master manipulator of [the evening news/social media/Joe Scarborough]. When a Washington Post investigation found that Trump’s charity had used money to [buy a solid gold Elf on the Shelf/build an escalator to Heaven/make Tila Tequila a best-selling author], what was Trump tweeting about? You guessed it: [His long-running feud with Tom Selleck/the season finale of ‘NCIS: New Orleans’/the Lindbergh baby].”
This template would put many journalists out of work — and without the same empathy exhibited by Trump toward those Carrier workers.