February 15, 2017 Last Updated 8:28 am

President proclaims his love of Fox & Friends; SNL ratings soar, but Toronto tab thinks it should layoff the press secretary

Morning Brief: The news is coming fast and furious, creating a need for news recaps and analysis, as well as the reasoned reporting of our local newspapers

The president got up this morning and discovered his phone nearby. You know what that means, a Twitter storm. Seven tweets, each becoming more unhinged. But at least he has something positive to say: the man is a fan of Fox & Friends.

The reaction came as the media frenzy over the administration’s contacts with Russian continued to be revealed. One long time journalists, Dan Rather, wrote on Facebook that the growing scandal was reminiscent of Watergate.

“Watergate is the biggest political scandal of my lifetime, until maybe now,” Rather wrote on Facebook. “It was the closest we came to a debilitating Constitutional crisis, until maybe now. On a 10 scale of armageddon for our form of government, I would put Watergate at a 9. This Russia scandal is currently somewhere around a 5 or 6, in my opinion, but it is cascading in intensity seemingly by the hour.”

“This Russia story started out with an avalanche and where we go from here no one really knows. Each piece of news demands new questions.”



So much is happening, so fast, that while reporters are busy writing up new reports, others are called on to write recaps, so readers can try to catch-up. These stories not only are able to combine various stories together into a cohesive whole, but they also allow for some perspective, and a chance to clean up some of the details that may have proven false or more complicated than when first reported.

In a time where news is 24/7, and evolving at lightning speed, analysis articles and opinion pieces may be the only way many readers will be able to comprehend what madness is occurring in Washington DC.

The Washington Post, Aaron Blake:

One afternoon, 3 investigations? The Trump White House’s ominous day.

In the space of a little more than an hour on Tuesday afternoon, life was breathed into three separate and distinct potential investigations of the Trump administration.

First came the independent Office of Government Ethics’s recommendation that the White House should investigate Kellyanne Conway’s plug of Ivanka Trump’s fashion line and “consider taking disciplinary action.” The letter was first tweeted by the House Oversight Committee’s Democrats at 2 p.m.

A half-hour later, the Republican chairman of the Oversight Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), announced a letter probing Trump’s apparent discussion of sensitive information out in the open this weekend at Mar-a-Lago.

Finally, a little after 3 p.m., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said it was “highly likely” the Senate would deepen its Russia investigation after now-former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation and questions about whether his December discussion of sanctions with Russia’s ambassador broke the law.

The New York Times, Michael D. Shear:

‘Unbelievable Turmoil’: Trump’s First Month Leaves Washington Reeling

The resignation on Monday night and the continuing turmoil inside the National Security Council have deeply rattled the Washington establishment.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, railed against the administration on Tuesday, decrying the “dysfunction” of the country’s national security apparatus and accusing the White House of being a place where “nobody knows who’s in charge and nobody knows who’s setting policy.”

Gen. Tony Thomas, head of the military’s Special Operations Command, expressed concern about upheaval inside the White House. “Our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil. I hope they sort it out soon because we’re a nation at war,” he said at a military conference on Tuesday.



If Trump has the Murdoch media properties to fall back on, he also has friends in Canada. Up north, the equivalent to the Murdoch press is Postmedia Network, the newspaper chain which owns the National Post. The financially troubled chain, backed by a U.S. private-equity firm, also owns Sun Media, a collection of tabloids.

Postmedia is loyally conservative in the same way Fox News is, the same way Murdoch’s tabs The Sun in the UK and the NYPost is in the US. So it is no surprise that the papers would be the most pro-Trump, and like the president himself, would be no fan of Saturday Night Live’s portrayals of the president and his staff.

Los Angeles Times, Stephen Battaglio:

‘Saturday Night Live’ ratings soar thanks to Baldwin’s Trump and McCarthy’s Spicer

President Trump is making “Saturday Night Live’s” ratings great again.

NBC’s long-running late-night sketch comedy program is having its most-watched season in 22 years, thanks in large part to Alec Baldwin’s impersonation of the 45th president of the United States and, more recently, Melissa McCarthy’s devastating take on White House press secretary Sean Spicer…

…People who hate Trump need to gather together and sometimes it’s in the streets and sometimes it’s watching a show like ‘Saturday Night Live,’” he (Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia) said.

The effect can be cathartic as well.

“You can’t be angry all the time — it destroys your health,” Sabato said. “So ‘Saturday Night Live,’ in a sense, is a kind of Pepto-Bismol for the bile that’s building all week long.”

Toronto Sun, Jim Slotek:

Why ‘SNL’ should cool it with Alec Baldwin’s Trump and Melissa McCarthy’s ‘Spicey’

Judging by all the viral memes it produces these days, you’d think this is a renaissance for SNL.

But creatively speaking, it’s not good that its juiced-up public profile is almost entirely based on impressions – most recently Melissa McCarthy’s bombastic Chris Farley-esque take on Trump press secretary Sean Spicer.

It was deliciously over-the-top, and assuming Trump doesn’t utter those magic words, “You’re fired!” to Spicer, we are almost certain to see it again. Maybe until we’re sick of it.

But when was the last time people took similar notice of an original character on SNL? It’s all about Alec Baldwin’s Trump, or Kate McKinnon’s Ellen (or Bieber) or, when Caribou Barbie is back in the news, Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin.



Meanwhile, local papers continue to serve their communities. But it is harder and harder to make a go of it. Newspapers, in general, are seem by some media consumers as suspect, and advertisers are eschewing print altogether, depressing national advertising in many newspaper chains.

It is a tough time for the local media, because while print is suffering, digital is doing little better. AOL’s attempts with Patch were far from a success, and digital options like Google can offer far greater penetration of a local market, and more targeting, than the local media.

Still, we need local newspapers more than ever as the local press has the best chance at being trusted by readers, while at the same time allowing readers to interact on a very intimate way with editors and reporters.

The Sentinel (Lewistown, PA), Editorial:

Newspapers like ours work hard to earn your trust

In this age where the term “fake news” is part of popular culture and the president of the United States regularly questions the integrity of journalists and the organizations for which they work, it’s pretty easy to lump all media members together as just a bunch of people who are somehow only seeking to put their spin on things rather than reporting the truth…

…So, please continue to know that any time you decide to pick up a copy of The Sentinel or read our website, you’re seeing the work of a hard-working group of journalists and editors hoping to maintain and grow your trust each day.

And there’s nothing “fake” about that.

CJR, Corey Hutchins:

‘I’ve had it’: Family-owned Colorado paper threatens state legislator with lawsuit

When a Republican lawmaker in Colorado recently called his hometown newspaper “fake news,” the family-owned Grand Junction Daily Sentinel didn’t let it go unchallenged.

On Saturday, the paper’s publisher, Jay Seaton, wrote a pointed column taking the state senator, Ray Scott, to task over the allegation.

“I don’t think I can sit back and take this kind of attack from an elected official,” the publisher wrote. “We are brokers in facts. Words have real meaning in this business. Sen. Scott has defamed this company and me as its leader.” And then the kicker: “To borrow a phrase from another famous Twitter user, I’ll see you in court.”

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