New York CNN Business —  

A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

This is Oliver Darcy filling in for Brian Stelter.

We’re five weeks into this self-inflicted wound. The shutdown was embarrassing on day one and it’s even more embarrassing on day 35. A challenge for journalists: Don’t get numb to the pain and the political posturing. This is the type of story that only gets bigger as time goes on…

Out of touch?

Brian Stelter emails: In this government shutdown, there are no real-life “winners.” Furloughed federal workers lose the most, and the rest of us also lose because we’re paying taxes to fund a government that isn’t functioning. But I recognize that some newsrooms find it irresistible to talk about the political “winners and losers.” So let me just make this observation: If President Trump and his allies thought they were “winning” this fight, politically, they wouldn’t be all over TV downplaying the pain of the shutdown.

WaPo’s Aaron Blake explained why in a post on Thursday. And his colleague Colby Itkowitz wrote, “Trump has surrounded himself with people who seem to struggle with the concept of financial insecurity.”

The NYT’s Katie Rogers put it this way: “Trump has stocked his administration with millionaires and the garden-variety wealthy” who sound out of touch – Thursday’s Wilbur Ross take-out-a-loan interview on CNBC just being the latest example.

“To many of those suffering,” CNN’s Jake Tapper said, “those comments, assuredly today, sounded a bit Marie Antoinette-esque. Particularly given that tomorrow the second paystub that will read 0.00. A full month of no pay.”

→ “The White House is facing an intensifying backlash over seemingly out-of-touch comments from Trump’s group of largely wealthy advisers,” Politico’s Matthew Choi wrote…

Conway and Sanders on CNN

Stelter adds: Kellyanne Conway appeared on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” on Thursday night. And Sarah Sanders is booked on “New Day” Friday morning, marking a rare appearance by the press secretary on CNN. What it says to me: Key W.H. aides know that rah-rah hits on Fox News aren’t cutting it. Every reputable poll is shouldering Trump with most of the blame for the shutdown. So the W.H. needs to make its case to the general public, not just Trump’s base…

Meet Harper

“This is 15-month-old Harper. She was born prematurely and needs a breathing tube,” CNN’s Randi Kaye reported on “AC360” Thursday night.

Her dad Chris is a data processing assistant for the IRS. He’s working without pay. His wife Allie says they’ll run out of money in “another month or so.” So they’re concerned about the electricity being turned off. That’s the electricity that powers Harper’s ventilator.

Chris voted for Trump. “Right now, at this point, I 100% regret voting for Trump.” He blames POTUS for the shutdown. So does Allie: “I don’t think he’s ever been in a situation like this.” She would love to meet with the president, Mitch McConnell, “anybody.” She says she would tell them, “This is not about a border. This is about our people.” And what would Chris tell them? “Put us back to work, so we can get paid.”


– NBC’s Thursday night scoop: “Officials rejected Jared Kushner for top secret security clearance, but were overruled” (NBC)

– About last Thursday’s scoop: Nick Tabor has a comprehensive list detailing “everything we know about BuzzFeed’s Michael Cohen story, and why Mueller shot it down…” (NYMag)

– City Bureau is Chicago’s “J-school of the Streets…” Check out Max Blau’s profile here… (Politico Mag)

– Eriq Gardner has the latest on Stephen Elliott’s lawsuit over the infamous “Media Men” list… (THR)

– The Drum looks at how CNN “ventured beyond TV” to “grow the world’s largest news audience.” One point worth highlighting: More than 60% of CNN’s traffic is from mobile… (The Drum)

Zuck’s WSJ op-ed on the “Facts About Facebook”

Mark Zuckerberg turned to the op-ed pages of WSJ on Thursday evening to push back about what he believes are misconceptions about Facebook. In his piece, titled “The Facts About Facebook,” Zuckerberg wrote that “recently” he’s “heard many questions” about Facebook’s business model and wanted “to explain the principles of how we operate.”

Zuckerberg wrote that people “consistently” tell Facebook that if they are “going to see ads, they want them to be relevant.” For that to happen, he explained, Facebook needs to collect date on its users to understand their unique interests. Zuckerberg also said that “there’s no question that we collect some information for ads,” but said “that information is generally important for security and operating our services as well.” Read his op-ed in full here….

>> Donie O’Sullivan emails: I wonder if the “people” Facebook asks these questions to know that by receiving “relevant” ads they are being categorized and targeted. I wonder if the people would be OK living with irrelevant ads if they knew?

>> Alex Howard tweets: “Dear @facebook, If you want billions of people who use your service to be able to read your CEO’s op-Ed, please don’t place it in a publication that puts it behind a paywall. Or is the @WSJ targeted towards your customers, businessesC [sic] instead of consumers?”


– Peter Hamby’s latest: “How the media can prevent 2020 from becoming 2016…” (VF)

– Caroline O’Donovan and Charlie Warzel followed YouTube’s recommendation algorithm “down the rabbit hole.” Its conclusion? “In the end, what’s clear is that YouTube’s recommendation algorithm isn’t a partisan monster — it’s an engagement monster…” (BuzzFeed News)

– Mark Levin appears to be, uh, quite upset with Mediaite… (Mediaite)

– SoundCloud co-founder Eric Wahlforss announced on Thursday that he is “stepping back from day-to-day operations and into an advisory role” beginning on March 1st… (Twitter / New York Biz Journal)

– Politico’s Jake Sherman has joined NBC News and MSNBC as a contributor… (Playbook)

Read more of Thursday’s “Reliable Sources” newsletter… And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox…

– Fox News will hold a “Battle at the Border” town hall Sunday evening hosted by “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade. “Fox Nation” personality Tomi Lahren will also be featured on the program… (The Hill)