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Tag: media

Eric Starkman: Reporters’ Conflicts of Interest, Romance And All

Eric Starkman is free-lance writer living in Los Angeles.

By Eric Starkman

Reading about Ali Watkins, the New York Times reporter romantically involved with the former Senate aide arrested for lying to the FBI about his contacts with reporters, I wasn’t alone recalling the immortal words of the newspaper’s legendary editor Abe Rosenthal: “I don’t care if you f…k an elephant, just so long as you don’t cover the circus.” Rosenthal, whose tombstone says, “He kept the paper straight,” made the comment when he was asked why he fired a Times reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer after discovering she slept with one of her sources while working there.

But those who believe that sleeping with sources violates a cardinal journalism rule are clinging to an era when newsrooms were littered with Olivetti typewriters and pneumatic tubes. The practice is widespread and known and countenanced by editors for decades.  In the more than four decades I worked in media and public relations, comprised reporters and other journalistic wrongdoing was commonplace. One example is the Times editor romantically involved with a PR executive whose clients the newspaper was always magically interested in.

But don’t take my word on this.

In 2009, Gawker published this story about Times reporters involved with their sources, including former White House correspondent Todd Purdum, who married Clinton spokesperson Dee Dee Myers, and reporter Bernard Weinraub, who covered Hollywood while dating then Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal. Four years later, the Washington Post published a headlined story, “Media, administration deal with conflicts (emphasis mine),” and chronicled the pervasiveness of the Beltway’s incestuous relationships. Breitbart has published a more current list of possibly conflicted Washington reporters.

Rosenthal declared his edict when the Times reigned supreme and competition was considerably more limited. In his day, being right was a bigger priority than being first, and the Times was careful to print only information that it had independently verified. The Times rarely exceled on the first day of a breaking story, but its second-day reporting ran circles around the competition. Hence the moniker, “The newspaper of record.”

Read more »

Former DOJ Press Spokesman: Trump Administration Doesn’t Respect Press’s Need to Do Job

Matthew Miller

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Matthew Miller, the former director of public affairs for the Department of Justice under the Obama administration, takes a swipe at the Trump Administration, telling the New York Times:

“I don’t think people in this administration respect the press’s need to do its job at all. And they couldn’t care less about bad press coverage. So both of the checks on what is otherwise their unfettered ability to use the law to obtain journalist records are kind of gone right now.”

Miller is quoted in an article in the Times which talks about the Justice Department seizing years of phone and email records from Ali Watkins, a New York Times journalist, raising concerns that the Trump administration is adopting a highly aggressive approach, continuing a crackdown that ramped up in the Obama years.

To be fair, the Obama administration obtained private records from reporters at Fox News and The Associated Press, triggering strong objections from the media.

Trump Lashes Out Over Leak of Questions in Mueller’s Russia Probe

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump called it “disgraceful” that someone leaked to the media more than four dozen questions that special counsel Robert Mueller wants to ask him as part Russia investigation.

The New York Times reported Monday night that it received a copy of the questions after they were turned over to Trump’s lawyers. The questions range from what Trump knew about contacts with Russia during the 2016 presidential election to why he fired FBI Director James Comey.

“So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were ‘leaked’ to the media,” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. “No questions on Collusion. Oh, I see…you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice!”

In another tweet, Trump wrote, “It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened. Witch hunt!”

It’s unclear how the New York Times acquired the questions, but the newspaper said they did not come from Trump’s current legal team.

 

 

Fox News’ Sean Hannity Revealed As Mysterious Client of Trump’s Personal Attorney

President Trump and Fox News personality Sean Hannity.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was ordered Monday to disclose the identity of a mysterious client whom he had tried to keep secret – and it’s none other than Fox News personality Sean Hannity.

Cohen’s lawyers tried to prevent Hannity’s name from being disclosed earlier in the day, but District Judge Kimba Wood demanded it, according to numerous news reports

The lawyers said Cohen had only three clients – Trump, Hannity and Elliot Broidy, a prominent Los Angeles-based Republican fundraiser who, it was revealed last week, helped Cohen negotiate a $1.6 million settlement with a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Trump.

Hannity, an outspoken Trump supporter who has repeatedly slammed the FBI’s raid on Cohen’s office, hotel and computers, first responded on Twitter, saying Cohen had “never represented me in any matter,” but the two had “occasionally brief discussions” on unidentified legal issues.

Later on his radio show, Hannity said he believed the conversations with Cohen were confidential.

“I’ve known Michael a long, long time,” Hannity said. “Let me be very clear to the media. Michael never represented me in any matter. I never retained him in the traditional sense as retaining a lawyer. I never received an invoice from Michael. I never paid legal fees to Michael.”

FBI agents seized Cohen’s computers, phones, office and hotel room in a raid that sought, among other records, all communications between Cohen and Trump and his campaign aides.

Cohen, who is under investigation for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations, has caught the attention of federal prosecutors for his role in combating negative stories about Trump. In 2016, Cohen paid adult-film attorney Stormy Daniels $130,000 to stay quiet about an affair she said she had with Trump shortly after his wife had a baby in 2006.

It’s unclear whether Hannity also is under investigation.

Former Trump Aide Changes Mind After Defiantly Daring Mueller to Jail Him

Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Sam Nunberg, who helped launch Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2015, embarked on a surreal, daylong media blitz in which he defiantly dared special counsel Robert Mueller to arrest him, called the president “stupid” and suggested Trump colluded with Russia to undermine the 2016 election.

But after a string of interviews in which he denigrated Trump, called the Russia investigation “a witch hunt” and pledged to ignore a subpoena to appear before a grand jury Friday, Nunberg told the Associated Press that he likely would comply.

Nunberg’s tirade shocked lawmakers and even prompted a CNN reporter to ask if was drunk.

At times erratic, angry and confrontational, Nunberg disclosed he was interviewed by Mueller’s team, which is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to wage a propaganda campaign against his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Nunberg, who was fired from the campaign in August 2015 over racially insensitive Facebook posts, said that it was unfair he was ordered to turn over emails he exchanged with a host of former top campaign officials, saying it would take dozens of hours.

“I think it would be really, really funny if they wanted to arrest me because I don’t want to spend 80 hours going over emails,” he told MSNBC.

His demeanor and message dramatically changed later in the day, telling an AP reporter that he’s willing to comply but believes the scope of the investigation is too wide-ranging.

A failure to cooperate with a subpoena can result in charges of contempt of court and obstruction of justice.

It’s unclear why Nunberg so quickly changed his mind.

Right-Wing Conspiracy, Claiming Fla. School Shooting Was FBI Plot, Gains Traction

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A right-wing conspiracy theory that suggests the Florida school shooting last week was an FBI plot to seize more power is gaining in popularity.

The far-fetched suggestions include the assertion that two students who have criticized Republicans for failing to act on gun control were staged by the FBI.

The conspiracy theory gained even more traction after Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., liked two Twitter posts sharing far-right media stories, including one from True Pundit under the headline “BUSTED: Trump-Hating School Shooting Survivor Visited CNN HQ Before the Shooting; Ranted Live on CNN After.”

The crackpot publications have suggested that one of the students, David Hogg, is the son of an FBI agent and wanted to protect his father’s involvement in the plot.

“The kid who has been running his mouth about how Donald Trump and the GOP are teaming to help murder high school kids by upholding the Second Amendment is the son of an FBI agent,” an unnamed author for True Pundit wrote. “David Hogg is a school shooting survivor in Florida. At least that is what the mainstream media has told us. We wouldn’t be surprised by anything involving the FBI at this point.”

As evidence, True Pundit posted a photo claiming to be Hogg at a CNN news desk, wearing a CNN T-shirt one week prior to the shooting.

“But now we learn Hogg was hanging out at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, GA sometime Before the school shooting,” the story reads. “Before the shooting. Posing behind an news anchor desk? Perhaps Hogg’s career dream is to sign on with the network — a young Jake Tapper — as he has portrayed himself since the deadly shooting that claimed 17 students as a ‘student journalist and entrepreneur.'”

Even some government officials are adopting the conspiracy theories.

Benjamin Kelly, an aide to Republican Florida state Rep. Shawn Harrison, told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday that the two teenagers “are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen.”

Harrison fired Kelly late Tuesday, prompting Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran to announce the termination.

“On behalf of the entire Florida House, I sincerely apologize to the students targeted and again commend them for their courage through this unspeakable tragedy,” Corcoran said.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio responded harshly to the conspiracy theories on Twitter.

“Claiming some of the students on tv after #Parkland are actors is the work of a disgusting group of idiots with no sense of decency,” he tweeted

Hogg thanked Rubio for the tweet.

Other Stories of Interest

BuzzFeed Hires Former Top FBI Official to Track Down Authenticity of So-Called Steele Dossier

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

BuzzFeed has hired a former top FBI and White House cybersecurity expert to lead a team trying to verify parts of the controversial, disputed Steele dossier that suggested Russia had compromising information on President Trump.

Anthony Ferrante, who now works at FTI Consulting, a Washington-based advisory firm, has worked on the investigation for about six months, traveling around the globe to obtain more information on the veracity of the dossier, Foreign Policy reports.

BuzzFeed was the first news organization to publish the dossier, which alleged there were ties between Trump and Russia.

The story prompted a lawsuit against BuzzFeed, which is scurrying to defend the report, which was funded by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Trump dismissed the dossier as fiction, suggesting it’s another example of federal law enforcement’s campaign to bring down the president.

Michigan Man Threatened to Gun Down CNN Employees over ‘Fake News’

CNN headquarters in Atlanta, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A suburban Detroit man was arrested on felony charges after police say he threatened to carry out a mass shooting at CNN headquarters over what he considered fake news, echoing President Trump’s relentless attacks on the network and other media outlets. 

Brandon Griesemer, of Novi, was arrested last week after federal authorities said he made 22 calls to the news network, including one in which he complained about “fake news” and pledged, “Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down.”

He reportedly added, “I’m smarter than you, More powerful than you. I have more guns than you. More manpower. Your cast is about to get gunned down in a matter of hours.”

During some of the calls, Griesemer made disparaging comments about African American and the network.

Griesemer was charged Friday in U.S. District Court with a felony county of transmitting interstate communications with the intent to extort and threat to injure. Griesemer is free from jail after posting a $10,000 bond. 

“We take any threats to CNN employees or workplaces, around the world, extremely seriously. This one is no exception. We have been in touch with local and federal law enforcement throughout, and have taken all necessary measures to ensure the safety of our people,” CNN said Monday in a statement

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