A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
Right-wing commentators are increasingly acting like they’ve already read the Mueller report, when all they’ve read is Bill Barr’s letter. Left-wing commentators are increasingly calling out the secrecy surrounding the report.
Meantime, some other folks are just trying to move on. The AP’s big Tuesday night headline sums it up well: “Trump takes victory lap; parties start to pivot past Russia…”
“This is a huge story”
The media bashing continued on Tuesday… Particularly on Fox News… With commentators claiming that the credibility of the “media” has been ruined by Barr’s letter.
Here’s a counterpoint from MSNBC prez Phil Griffin, who gave this statement to VF’s Joe Pompeo:
“We’re going to keep doing our job, asking the tough questions, especially when it involves holding powerful people accountable. This is a huge story. The president of the United States was the subject of an investigation by our own government. That probe has produced 34 criminal indictments so far. And we know the Russians interfered with our election. Our journalists, legal analysts, and prime-time hosts are covering the biggest story in politics and national security with distinction.”
Comey speaking to Holt
Per NBC: “Former FBI Director James Comey will sit down with NBC News’ Lester Holt for an exclusive interview” airing on Wednesday’s “NBC Nightly News.” This will be Comey’s first interview since Mueller submitted his report…
A rare interview with Mark Corallo
Due to all the news about Mueller, Trump and Russia right now, ABC’s weekly podcast “The Investigation” has gone daily this week. Wednesday’s episode will feature a rare interview with Mark Corallo, the former spokesperson for Trump’s private legal team. Per ABC, he “shares his unique and unfiltered insight into inner-workings of the Trump administration during the early days of the Mueller probe, describing the ‘problematic’ incidents and what he calls ‘reckless’ behavior that he says influenced his decision to leave…”
Trump taking a victory lap on Hannity
Sean Hannity is taping an interview with POTUS on Wednesday… It will air on Wednesday night’s show…
→ Stephen Colbert on “Late Show” Tuesday night: “I’ve gotta say, being told you’ve not been indicted for betraying your country is a pretty low bar for a victory lap. If I don’t run anyone over in my car tomorrow, I expect to celebrate with an ice cream cake…”
The most-read piece on the WaPo website…
…Is George Conway’s blistering op-ed titled “Trump is guilty — of being unfit for office.” It’s been No. 1 on the most-read chart all evening. “If the charge were unfitness for office,” Conway wrote, “the verdict would already be in: guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
On Twitter, WaPo blogger Helaine Olen called it “another episode of the George and Kellyanne Show…”
FOR THE RECORD
– Spotify’s third podcasting acquisition of the year: It is buying Parcast, “the L.A.-based company, founded in 2016 by Max Cutler, that trades in a genre-oriented, high-volume portfolio with broad titles like Serial Killers, Cults, and Unsolved Murders…” (Hot Pod)
– The FT, citing a “person close to the negotiation,” says that Spotify is paying more than $100 million in cash and earn-outs to buy Parcast… An enormous multiple on Parcast’s limited revenues…” (FT)
– “Video game giant Electronic Arts is laying off 350 people, the company said on Tuesday, marking the latest round of job cuts to hit the gaming industry in recent months. Last month Activision Blizzard laid off 800 employees… (TheWrap)
The local news conundrum
These three stories came out on Tuesday, and they are all related:
FIRST, an excellent new Pew Research Center survey about how Americans consume local news and what they want from their news sources.
This is one of the key findings: “Even amid declining revenues and staffing, about seven-in-ten Americans think their local news outlets are doing very or somewhat well financially (71%). When it comes to their own financial support of the industry, just 14% of American adults say they have paid for local news in the past year, either through subscription, donation or membership.”
So: Most people don’t know about the sorry state of local news biz models, and most people say they are not subscribing. One caveat: Most Americans DO pay for local TV news, without realizing it, by paying for cable.
SECOND, Charles Bethea’s dispatch from coal country. “A year ago,” he wrote for The New Yorker, “the last Kentucky newspaper staffer dedicated to the environmental beat full-time left his job. He was not replaced.”
Bethea said “other outlets are trying to fill the gaps,” including a fantastic journalist from the Report for America project, and “strong local radio coverage.” But Tom FitzGerald, the director of the Kentucky Resources Council, said “nobody is able to do the in-depth work that used to be done.” Are big environmental stories being missed? Most likely – but “it’s hard to know what you don’t know,” FitzGerald said.
THIRD, Sara Fischer’s scoop about a new venture by Google. Several of the tech giants are trying to get on the right side of news history… battling the widespread belief that their products have seriously hurt the news biz… by bankrolling all sorts of new services and initiatives. This “Local Experiments Project” by the Google News Initiative is a big move.
Google is stepping up to fund “dozens of new local news websites around the country and eventually around the world,” Fischer wrote. Richard Gingras told her that Google “will be spending many millions of dollars on this overall.”
Is this what the future looks like in smaller media markets?
About the Google experiment…
McClatchy is Google’s first partner. The company’s CEO Craig Forman said the “experiment” will provide news coverage “to three small to mid-sized U.S. communities that don’t have access to significant local sources of news and information.”
It’s a three-year bet… “Our objective at McClatchy is to explore new models for independent local news and information,” Forman said in this blog post. “Google’s objective is to test the business models and operational aspects necessary to succeed in local news.”
→ Columbia J-school prof Bill Grueskin tweeted: “Google is *directly funding* new local-news sites, using a newspaper chain (McClatchy) as its publishing partner and promising total editorial independence. A very different model from what we’ve seen in the past…”
→ His colleague Emily Bell tweeted: “This where we have been heading for a while. Would US news organizations be comfortable with the govt directly owning local news? If the answer is ‘no’ then this should concern them too…”