Megadonor maintains her man in the WH; LA Times editorial series on Trump expands to six parts
Morning Brief: First time digital magazine reader checks out a digital newsstand and doesn’t like what they see; student journalists dig into their new principal and everyone (except the principal) is happy they did
This not Friday. Feels like it should be though, right? I mean, every week we are overloaded with news, and yet it doesn’t feel like we are getting anywhere – at least not anywhere that is good.
The Daily Show created a great video yesterday, where Sean Spicer is seen as a kindergarten teacher, but I’m not sure it gets just who the kids are and who adults are. I know, the show’s point was that Spicer treats the press like children, and he shouldn’t, but there is a serious question of who is acting like adults around the White House.
This morning, as an example, we hear from Politico that Stephen Bannon had threatened to resign, “grown frustrated amid continued infighting in the West Wing, so much so that in recent weeks a top donor had to convince him to stay in his position.”
Let that sink it. The man with zero government experience, who was the publisher of an alt-right website, wants to leave the White House, sees himself as the adult in the administration. But, of course, he is not leaving, staying on because a mega-donor sees him as their man in the White House.
Trump’s strategist threatened to leave the White House after clashing with Jared Kushner.
Republican mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, a longtime Bannon confidante who became a prominent Trump supporter during the campaign, urged Bannon not to resign. “Rebekah Mercer prevailed upon him to stay,” said one person familiar with the situation.
Another person familiar with the situation, a GOP operative who talks to Mercer, said: “Bekah tried to convince him that this is a long-term play.”
…“It hasn’t all been fun, and I know he’s been frustrated,” said a Republican who has spoken with Bannon in recent weeks. His position in the West Wing took a blow on Wednesday, when the White House issued a national security directive removing him from the National Security Council, where he had been installed as a member in the first weeks of the administration.
Bannon opposed the change, even saying he’d quit if the president signed off on it, according to one person familiar with the situation.
Mercer reached prominence thanks to the small fortune invested by her father, Robert, a billionaire hedge fund manger. According to The Washington Post, that started after the GOP’s 2012 loss. Incensed by the meager showing against Obama, she began to direct lots of the family money to rightwing super PACs and think tanks that work to limit the influence of government. One of those causes she decided to back was Trump’s presidential campaign, after he won the Republican primary.
Many have wondered what the Mercers really want. As Rosie Gray, writing for The Atlantic put it, “who knows? No one seems to know what motivates the Mercers or what policies they want to see enacted, even people who have worked closely with them or for projects funded by them,” Gray wrote. “While they’ve poured money into conservative causes, they’ve also invested in projects explicitly aimed at overturning the modern conservative movement.”
On Monday, TNM wrote about the four-part series of editorials the Los Angeles Times planned on writing about Donald Trump’s presidency. Maybe I got that wrong, or else something has changed, because now we are looking at a six-part series. Maybe the president just keep giving the editorial board more material to write about.
But if you think fake news is only a thing important to the White House, you would be wrong, as the HuffPost pointed out yesterday in their story on ex-Rep. Steve Stockman.
But Trump’s strategy is pretty clear: By branding reporters as liars, he apparently hopes to discredit, disrupt or bully into silence anyone who challenges his version of reality. By undermining trust in news organizations and delegitimizing journalism and muddling the facts so that Americans no longer know who to believe, he can deny and distract and help push his administration’s far-fetched storyline.
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It’s a cynical strategy, with some creepy overtones. For instance, when he calls journalists “enemies of the people,” Trump (whether he knows it or not) echoes Josef Stalin and other despots.
But it’s an effective strategy. Such attacks are politically expedient at a moment when trust in the news media is as low as it’s ever been, according to Gallup.
Late last month, federal prosecutors indicted ex-Rep. Steve Stockman and two of his aides, charging that the Texas Republican and his confidants ripped off charities, laundered money, lied to regulators and misled wealthy donors before, during and after his failed 2014 primary campaign against John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate.
The fact that the former congressman is facing multiple felony counts made national news. But one of the most interesting details in the 46-page Stockman indictment escaped notice: The suggestion that Richard Uihlein, one of the country’s biggest conservative political donors, personally wrote a check for $450,571.65 to mail a fake newspaper called The Conservative News to voters across Texas.
For the first three or four years of TNM its main function was to report on the new digital edition apps just about every publisher was producing, writing about what was good about some of the better interactive apps, and why simply producing a PDF replica was a waste of time. Apple and the publishing companies appear to have killed off the dream.
But there are still digital newsstands out there, and every once in a while someone checks them out.
A cautionary tale.
This week I saw an ad for Texture – an app that gives access to a couple hundred magazines for $9.99 a month. ($14.99 for premium access, which I think means the ability to search back issues).
Do you know anyone who subscribes to a monthly tablet magazine service? I don’t.
Reading a magazine, it turns out, is a terrible experience on an iPad.
The fact that tablet based magazines and apps have gone nowhere should be a cautionary tale for us digital learning enthusiasts.
Hopefully you saw this story yesterday, but if not, it is worth giving a nod to it.
This story is great on many levels. Student journalists working for the school paper were doing some research into their new principal when they found some disturbing information, discovering that the person named by the school board had received her her master’s and doctorate degrees from Corllins University, described as a diploma mill.
They wrote about it. That led to the resignation of the new principal, though she denies any wrong doing.
What is especially good to see is the positive attitude of the board to the student’s work. We hear far too often of principals and school boards shutting down school papers when the young journalists do their work a little too well. Not here. Good for all those involved.
Days after student reporters at Pittsburg High School in Kansas dug into the background of their newly hired principal and found questionable credentials, she resigned from the $93,000-a-year job.
“She was going to be the head of our school, and we wanted be assured that she was qualified and had the proper credentials,” said Trina Paul, a senior and an editor of the Booster Redux, the school newspaper. “We stumbled on some things that most might not consider legitimate credentials.”
…ittsburg journalism adviser Emily Smith said she is “very proud” of her students. “They were not out to get anyone to resign or to get anyone fired. They worked very hard to uncover the truth.”
Students journalists published a story Friday questioning the legitimacy of the private college — Corllins University — where Robertson got her master’s and doctorate degrees years ago. U.S. Department of Education officials, contacted by The Star, confirmed student reports; the federal agency could not find evidence of Corllins in operation. The school wasn’t included among the agency’s list of schools closed since 1986. Robertson earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tulsa.