Good morning. Here’s our morning roundup of all the media news you need to know. Want to get this briefing in your inbox every morning? Subscribe here.
The image of power was simple: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump walking off Marine One Thursday, hand-in-hand, and boarding Air Force One for a short trek to New York City with Kushner’s father-in-law.
Yes, Jared Kushner, trusted power broker, to the obvious chagrin of one Elizabeth Spiers.
She’s the founding editor of Gawker and, for 18 months, editor of The Observer, the small circulation arts and politics paper in New York that Kushner bought five years earlier. She worked with him closely (he had a succession of editors), didn’t especially like him and thinks he’s not up to a potent White House role.
Spiers initially broached her views publicly as to why Kushner should be the last person to have a big role in government, especially on the topic of innovation, in a Washington Post op-ed.
She said she quit for a bunch of reasons, mostly that Kushner wouldn’t recapitalize the paper “even though I reached all my numbers.” He seemed intent on raising margins through cost cuts. She sought expansion (and these days is looking for capital for an “unabashedly leftie, adversarial, partisan” startup).
Now she expands her Kushner critique in a chat with Cheddar, the sort-of CNBC startup news service for millennials.
He didn’t display any admiration of journalists or understanding of the craft. He was more focused on the non-journalism aim of getting closer to an audience comprised of Manhattan elites he “wanted to know and influence,” said a rather dour Spiers.
Well, if only she could now hit him up for a very low-interest loan. But as she’s busy with trying to start a media business, he’s in the Oval Office, counseling his father-in-law. Before hopping aboard Air Force One Thursday, he was in the Rose Garden to herald the House passage of the healthcare bill.
And, come to think of it, he’s probably disinclined to help out with her as-yet-unlaunched news organization.
Comparisons to Breitbart, even as an ideological counterpart, are facile and come up short, she says. She’s won’t have any “fake news” or “White supremacists.”
That, too, might give her millennial former boss pause.
Fox probe “widens”
When journalists proclaim exclusives on federal investigations expanding, it can often be that they’ve been clueless about where those probes have been. Now comes this headline: “Scope of federal probe into Fox News broadens — federal investigators have interviewed network executives and on-air talent, asking about sexual-harassment settlements.” (The Wall Street Journal)
It’s a variation on a theme that’s been known, as the government seemingly tries to discern (among other matters) whether material elements of Fox settlements were kept from shareholders. You wouldn’t know it from the Murdochs, but it is a publicly held company.
A Bezos divestiture
“Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos sold about $1 billion in company stock as part of a planned divestiture, a month after the world’s third-richest man said he spends about that amount annually on his space exploration company Blue Origin LLC.” (Bloomberg)
“Bezos sold 1 million shares from Tuesday to Thursday ranging in price from about $935 to $950 per share, according to a regulatory filing on Thursday. He still owns 79.9 million shares, or about 17 percent of the company, down from 83 million shares at the end of 2015.”
Morning Joe + Mika
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” opened with images of cheering, happy professionals Thursday. There was talk of Bud Lite being rolled in and cigars being smoked. And why not? Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough were at work the day after word they will be married.
Oh, wait. The exulting (of mostly White Republican males) had to do with passage of the healthcare legislation in the House! But one will now watch MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” as if amateur family therapists. We now know the co-hosts are future man and wife and will wonder if the cutting remark here, the interruption there, the melancholy air one morning, the anger on another morning, the collective laughs on a third, are hints of marital distemper or bliss.
So what’s the early line? Are Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough our cable Burns and Allen, Lucy and Desi or Juan and Evita Peron?
Could network programmers have scripted this better? A heavy dose of Donald Trump each sunrise and at least the potential of domestic-inspired psychodrama before our breakfasts.
There was no reference to the big personal news in today’s early going. It was all about healthcare and the show’s regular ensemble (and a Democratic congressman from Ohio) voicing the pervasive media derision toward the GOP’s perhaps premature exultation given the bill’s Senate future. A skeptical Brzezinski pressed a Trump-boosting Australian ambassador on what “American values” Trump really embodies.
But, going to the first break, there was a photo of a happy couple ambling down a hall and, one hopes, a bright future away from the nationally watched intimacy of their day job. May they fare better than legislation they assume is DOA in the Senate.
A bit of context for the press
The media can hyperventilate with a dozen layoffs here, a buyout program there. But the restructuring that’s playing out in other industries dwarfs what it faces. Take this news from Thursday:
“State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., the largest U.S. home and auto insurer, plans to shut 11 U.S. facilities, displacing about 4,200 workers, after a $7 billion annual underwriting loss last year on auto policies.” (Bloomberg)
The House healthcare vote
As The Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib puts it, “A cynic might say: House Republicans wanted to repeal and replace Obamacare in the worst way, and that’s what they did.”
And here from Kaiser Health News read “five of the biggest flashpoints that could make trouble for the bill in the upper chamber.”
Media stocks heading south
“A tepid outlook for television ad revenue and concerns about the longevity of the big pay-TV bundle are causing jitters among media investors.” (The Wall Street Journal) Viacom is one vivid example.
Apple’s China problem
Imagine, it’s less than 10 percent of the market there.
“Unlike the rest of the world, in China the most important layer of the smartphone stack is not the phone’s operating system. Rather, it is WeChat…every aspect of a typical Chinese person’s life, not just online…is conducted through a single app (and, to the extent other apps are used, they are often games promoted through WeChat).” (Stratchery)
Media “drama queens”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette finds this local angle in an AP story:
“Joe Manganiello is asking for the media to dial down the drama surrounding the upcoming stand-alone Batman film. Mr. Manganiello, a Mt. Lebanon native, is signed on to play the villain Deathstroke opposite Ben Affleck’s caped crusader in ‘The Batman.'”
“Mr. Affleck is writing the screenplay and was also set to direct the Warner Bros. project, but pulled back from those plans in late January. ‘Cloverfield’ director Matt Reeves is now helming the film.”
“Mr. Manganiello tells Robert Irvine Magazine those in the media who suggest the project is in trouble or the script needs revision ‘are drama queens.’ He says ‘everyone on the cast and crew wants to make this the best movie possible.'”
OK, OK, that’s reassuring. Whew.
Savings might help pay Megyn Kelly’s salary
“Comcast rejected funding days before doomed Fyre Festival — The media giant almost gave the company $25 million for its app. Now employees want answers after the disaster in the Bahamas.” (Bloomberg)
Amid the critics’ finger-wagging
In retrospect, there was a fair amount of wishful thinking among the mainstream media about Trump failing again on healthcare. He didn’t, even stipulating the bill’s ills. Says John Feehery, a former top aide to potent congressional Republicans:
“Look, the media is rooting hard against Trump. This disrupts their narrative of Trump as a loser. So a win for Trump and a loss for the media.”
Baseball’s black eye
“The search for Black Red Sox fans at Fenway Park” in The Undefeated is a natural follow to the slurs hurled there at a Baltimore Orioles star player. But in finding a paucity, and juxtaposing them with service workers employed at the stadium, this fails to offer the larger context of an inherent problem in Major League Baseball.
It’s fine, as it goes, but you could do the same story at a bunch of other parks, and not leave perhaps the unintended impression that Boston is alone.
Where are refugees resettling
The Tallahassee, Florida Democrat assembled an interactive map of the U.S to show where refugees who’ve arrived via federal programs are resettling. It’s just over 900,000 since 2002.
I closed my eyes, clicked and found that 37 have resettled in Edmond, Oklahoma, a big chunk of them from Africa. It’s all part of a Gannett-wide project, including a USA Today tale on refugee admissions declining sharply under Trump.
The economics of The (New York) Times
“Twenty years ago, advertising revenue made up 63 percent of the paper’s revenues, while subscription revenue accounted for 27 percent. As of Q1, those numbers are nearly inverted: Subscriptions account for 61 percent and advertising represents 33 percent of the top line.” (Recode)
Journalism about journalism
“Poynter is reopening its Naughton Fellowship, a one-year position allowing the recipient to create journalism about journalism alongside our team of media reporters in St. Petersburg, Florida. The fellowship, which is named after former Poynter president and New York Times correspondent Jim Naughton, has been retooled this year to focus on visual journalism.” (Poynter)
Sports and politics
“Saying that sitting in the same boardroom together still feels completely surreal, former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter told reporters Thursday that he had finally fulfilled a lifelong dream of starting a business venture with Jeb Bush.”
Yes, he’s bidding for the Miami Marlins with Bush. But that wasn’t from Politico, Axios, The Sporting News or The Wall Street Journal. It’s from The Onion.
Have a good weekend. Our family’s Excel spreadsheet includes three soccer games, three baseball games, a basketball party, piano practice, studying for a Monday math test and a Yankees-Cubs series in high-40s early May chill. Regardless, go Jeter-less Yanks!