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


What we can all learn from “Dignity”

So many stories in America today lead back to one word: Inequality. But how often and how well do national and local newsrooms cover this issue? How much are we missing when our coverage focuses on NYC, DC, LA and SF? That’s what I found myself wondering as I read “Dignity,” an outstanding new book by Wall Street trader turned author Chris Arnade. Through photos and stories about Arnade’s travels to struggling and forgotten towns, “Dignity” persuasively makes the case that America “is split into two worlds.” The book’s subtitle is “Seeking Respect in Back Row America.”

His thesis is that the “front row” of strivers, made up of politicians and bankers and lawyers and journalists, has set up a world that fails the “back row.” People in the “back row,” he told me, generally “don’t have education beyond high school, and if they do it’s generally community college, trade schools. They generally stay in their town. They generally live in communities that, to use a buzzword, are being ‘forgotten,’ left behind, distanced — places that we tend not to talk about a lot.”

Arnade quit his job and sought out these communities to learn about “the consequences of our actions.” He brought along his camera. Although not a journalist by training, he produced the type of storytelling that we all need more of. Here’s my interview with Arnade from Sunday’s show…

Go to McDonald’s

Matthew Walther, reviewing “Dignity” for The Week, says “one thing that Arnade’s reporting has forever altered is my attitude toward McDonald’s.”

Chapter one of the book is titled “If you want to understand the country, visit McDonald’s.” Arnade describes how the fast food chain doubles as a community center. And he shows the value of ordering a coffee, sitting down and staying a while. Here’s a peek at the chapter via Google Books… and the full book on Amazon…

One of the other books released on Tuesday is Michael Wolff’s “Siege.” Arnade wrote about the outsiders; Wolff wrote about and for the insiders…

Wolff says Trump era is getting “crazier and crazier”

John Berman questioned Wolff about his sourcing and methods on Tuesday’s “AC360.” Here’s the full segment. Wolff said “I’m trying to give a picture of what Trumpworld is,” and called it a “crazy place.” He defended his decision not to always call certain subjects — like the White House and Fox News — for comment by saying Trumpworld is full of liars.

When Berman asked what Wolff wants people to take away from “Siege,” he said, “I think that it gets crazier and crazier. That Donald Trump is more isolated, more alone.” He called it “the story of a meltdown. One of the greatest political meltdowns of all time.”

On an unrelated note, this was the president’s last tweet of the night on Tuesday:

Schiff says Trump’s statements against CNN and WaPo are “unconstitutional”

On Tuesday Rep. Adam Schiff weighed in on Trump’s tweets suggesting a boycott of AT&T to punish CNN for its news coverage. Schiff tweeted:

“Trump calls for a boycott of CNN’s parent company, after trying to block their merger. He wanted to raise postal rates on Amazon because Bezos owns the Post. It’s one thing to complain about the press. Using state power to censor them is another. In fact, it’s unconstitutional.”

“And certainly impeachable,” Norman Ornstein added in a reply…


– Start angling for a dinner party invite: Jeff Bezos is “finalizing the purchase of three units at 212 Fifth Avenue” in a deal “valued at around $80 million…” (WSJ)

– “YouTube has at last formally responded to an explosive and controversial feud between Vox writer and video host Carlos Maza and conservative YouTuber Steven Crowder. The verdict: YouTube says Crowder did not violate any of its policies, and that Crowder’s YouTube channel will stay up, despite his repeated homophobic slurs directed at Maza in videos posted to YouTube…” (The Verge)

– Kaya Yurieff emails: “Influencers you don’t follow will soon be on your Instagram feed. The company is rolling out ‘branded content ads’ which lets brands turn influencers’ sponsored content posts into ads so a bigger (and more targeted) audience sees them.” Full story here… (CNN)

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

– Joe Biden’s campaign amended its climate change plan after being called out for lifting language from liberal groups. The Daily Caller was the first to ID several of the instances… (CNN)

– Happy one-year anniversary to “Cuomo Prime Time…” (Twitter)

The “parade of little lies”

Trump gave more oxygen to the anti-Trump protests in London when he dismissed reports about the protests as “fake news.” It was this week’s second instance of Trump saying, in effect, “who do you believe — me or your own eyes?”

Trump “told a number of lies” at Tuesday’s joint presser with British prime minister Theresa May, John Berman said on “AC360.” Is it even news anymore when the president lies? “It is. Of course it is,” he said. The “parade of little lies may be making it tough to take anything the president says seriously, especially those things we really need to take seriously,” like Trump’s tariff threats. Watch Berman’s monologue here…

ABC News prez at Trump’s table

ABC News president James Goldston and his wife Laura Trevelyan, a BBC anchor, dined with Trump and May on Tuesday evening. Goldston and Trevelyan, who both have dual UK-US citizenship, were invited to the dinner at Winfield House, the residence where Trump is staying while in London. Goldston was seated next to press secretary Sarah Sanders. Here’s a photo via Getty:

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, (2L), Britain's Prince Charles , Prince of Wales (C), US President Donald Trump (2R) and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May attend a dinner Winfield House, the residence of the US Ambassador, where US President Trump is staying whilst in London, on June 4, 2019, on the second day of the US President's three-day State Visit to the UK.

I asked ABC if Goldston had any comment, or if he’d be reporting on what was discussed, but I was told the dinner was off the record. So: Perfectly appropriate? Totally inappropriate? Or to put it another way: If you ran one of America’s biggest newsrooms, would you say yes to the invite?

Piers and Trump again

Piers Morgan’s sit-down with POTUS will air on his UK morning show on Wednesday, with clips available in time for the US morning shows…

This is Morgan’s third interview with Trump since inauguration day — the most of any TV interviewer outside the United States. Of course, the two men have a chummy history.

When I asked Morgan about how he has snagged this series of sit-downs, he replied with characteristic thunder: “He trusts me to be fair, something that so few journalists seem prepared to be about President Trump.”