March 14, 2017 Last Updated 9:40 am

Fed inquiry into Fox News payments moves to grand jury; NYC cancels blizzard warning (maybe they shouldn’t have)

Morning Brief: While many newspapers led with the CBO report saying millions would lose their health coverage under Trumpcare, many newspapers in the South buried the story

The news may be mercifully free of politics this evening as a major winter storm bears down on the Northeast… but I doubt it. We are just living in one of those times when its all politics, 24 hours a day.

Yesterday, of course, the big news was that the Congressional Budget Office came in with their estimate of how many Americans would lose their health insurance if Paul Ryan gets his bill through the Congress. The CBO estimated that 14 million after the first year, and 24 million a decade out, would lose health insurance. But that isn’t the real story. The real story is that those pushing the bill could care less, they plan on moving forward, not revising the bill.

House Speaker Ryan made that clear only minutes after the CBO put out their projection, saying “This report confirms that the American Health Care Act will lower premiums and improve access to quality, affordable care. CBO also finds that this legislation will provide massive tax relief, dramatically reduce the deficit, and make the most fundamental entitlement reform in more than a generation.”

Meanwhile, as the health bill has made its way through Congress, the Trump administration was busy making sure that Federal prosecutors were loyal to the administration. But if they thought firing the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York would spare Rupert Murdoch of seeing Fox News investigated over payments it made related to sexual harassment, they were mistaken. Even without Preet Bharara heading the NY office, the case has moved to the Grand Jury stage, hoping to discover what exactly was going on at Fox News when it was run by Roger Ailes.

But here is the real kicker on this story: Marc L. Mukasey, a former prosecutor who now works as a criminal defense attorney, may be the one picked to head the US attorney’s office, replacing Preet Bharara. One of Mukasey’s former clients is none other than Roger Ailes.

The New York Times, Jim Dwyer and William K. Rashbaum:

Federal Inquiry of Fox News Moves to a Grand Jury, but Without Preet Bharara

A federal grand jury sitting in Manhattan is expected to soon hear testimony from at least two witnesses about business practices at Fox News when it was led by Mr. Ailes, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Mr. Ailes, who was forced out in July amid revelations of multiple accusations of sexual harassment, has denied those charges.

The current inquiry, which began in September and appears to be in an early stage, may be focused, at least in part, on settlement payments, a person with knowledge of the matter said…

…“The firing of Preet, who did an extraordinarily evenhanded job is not remarkable — it’s just more the way it happened after he was told that he would stay on,” Mr. Burstein said. “The timing with respect to the Ailes stuff is troubling. Stopping this investigation would destroy the credibility of the U.S. attorney’s office, which has always been the crown jewel of federal prosecutors’ offices.”



If you are a sports fan you know the feeling. You are listening to the news and you hear the tail end of a report that your favorite team has traded away a high profile player. But who? Was it the big star? a minor bench player?

When you finally find out who it is you sigh with relief. Yeah, everyone has heard of him, but the team will certainly be better off without the guy.

I’m not saying that this example is analogous to the story below. But I did find it interesting that the Post rushed the story online. Normally when a newspaper loses a high profile writer they a loath to talk about it. Not in this case.

The Washington Post, Erik Wemple:

CNN hires Chris Cillizza away from The Washington Post

So why did CNN on Monday announce the hiring of The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza? CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker — using utter CEO-speak — told colleagues Monday in a call that the motivation involved “adding more destination bylines to our digital properties,” according to a CNN source…

…Cillizza says that Zucker has been a “reader of my stuff” and has a relationship with Jeffrey Jacobs, Cillizza’s agent. That’s how the discussions got started. Though Cillizza received no guarantees about air time and other details, “they’ve got 24 hours to fill 7 days a week and I feel good based on the conversations. I think they value what I bring. I’ve had job offers at other places over the years that I haven’t taken,” says Cillizza.



Early this morning, as I attempted to open my eyes and check my Twitter feed, I was told that the lead story across the country today would be the CBO report and the news that millions of Americans would be losing their health coverage. I’ve been doing this long enough to immediately be skeptical.

You see, journalists still believe that what is the big news in their communities will be the big news everywhere. That while those in big cities in the North and West are hearing that the CBO came in with a devastating report, that editors everywhere will play up the news on their front pages.

I learned by looking at newspapers around the country last summer that the big news in NYC certainly won’t get the same coverage everywhere. So it took only a couple of seconds to find front pages in major southern cities that never even are mentioning the CBO report today on their front pages.

It isn’t a complete regional block out of the news – for instance, The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana has a creative front page that plays up the report – but in city after city across the South you won’t see negative news about this current administration getting much coverage. (See home page feature picture for an image of The Advocate’s front page.)

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