May 10, 2017 Last Updated 9:56 am

Editors make Nixon references, but how many were in the business at the time; Comey news comes too late for UK papers

Morning Brief: Newspapers and cable TV commentators make reference to ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ — but the Constitutional crisis initiated by Nixon’s firing of independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox still lasted an additional ten months

The post on the third quarter earnings for News Corp was nearly completed when a ping could be heard on my iPhone. Then, in another office, I heard a loud gasp then a laugh. Checking my phone I learned that James Comey had been fired as director of the FBI. I completed the earnings post knowing no one would really care to read it, what with the US falling into a Constitution crisis not seen since 1974.

In UK, on the other hand, newspaper buyers will not be reading about the firing unless they go online. Occurring well after most dailies had set their front pages, the story would have to go online, not in print — and a UK paper was not going to stop the presses for a US story.

I wonder how many political and media reporters today can remember the Watergate era. I was in high school at the time, editing the school paper. During that time I wrote mostly reviews and editorials. My editorial on efforts to impeach Nixon and one on a UN resolution condemning Israel won the state high school journalism award that year for best editorial writing. That was, in other words, a long time ago.

But I remember the era well. News progressed slowly regarding Nixon, but would be punctuated with big revelations or events. The firing known as the Saturday Night Massacre occurred on October 20, 1973. Maybe television commentators last night said that it led quickly to the resignation of Nixon. Their memories are faulty, Nixon resigned ten months later, on August 9, 1974. That was ten months of more news, more revelations, as well as those famous Congressional hearings.

If one doubts that the Trump administration is floundering about aimlessly, not actually being strategically evil, consider this: Trump is set to meeting today with with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in a meeting in the Oval Office which will provide awkward optics, and for many, reinforcement that all of Trump’s actions somehow relate to Russia.

The New York Times, Editorial:

Donald Trump’s Firing of James Comey

The American people — not to mention the credibility of the world’s oldest democracy — require a thorough, impartial investigation into the extent of Russia’s meddling with the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump and, crucially, whether high-ranking members of Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded in that effort…

…This is a tense and uncertain time in the nation’s history. The president of the United States, who is no more above the law than any other citizen, has now decisively crippled the F.B.I.’s ability to carry out an investigation of him and his associates.

If you only have time to read one story today, I would recommend this one. It attempts to tie everything together regarding the president, and US political developments. You might not agree with all the details, or its conclusions, but it is the best recap of the state of things coming from a particular point of view.

Foreign Policy, David Rothkopf:

Is America a Failing State?

America looks like a country it has never been. Trump is a laughingstock in the best of circumstances, a disgrace based on his known behavior to date, and a threat to global order and security with each action he takes. He discredits the office he holds and the government he leads.He discredits the office he holds and the government he leads.

But for every depredation or attack on our system by Trump and his team, for every act of complicity by the invertebrates who lead the GOP on Capitol Hill, there has been some portion of the U.S. government and system to counterbalance it. Judges have stayed bad executive orders. The FBI has investigated — personal career consequences for the investigators be damned.

This will be an interesting few months for the news media, one that should provide a bump in readership. Unfortunately, as the column below relates, many local metro newspapers are in a period of transformation as they change hands and are seeing their newsrooms gutted.

But the story here is currently national, which means many of these papers, which could not afford DC bureaus, may actually benefit from their corporate ownership. Still, the local angle will be in danger of being missed., David McCollum:

Corporatized newspapers have become less relevant to readers

Corporate business owners did not, and do not, understand the unique aspect of newspapers, in that a newspaper is an extremely demanding “manufacturing” business that must create a totally new product every day, and must maintain a distribution system that provides the ability to deliver a new daily product to every home and business in the community they serve… before 7 a.m., seven days a week…

…In summary, newspapers today, by being “corporatized,” have generally made themselves less relevant to their readers by reducing local content, reducing the size and number of pages, writing misleading headlines, politicizing general news, terrible grammar, failed proofreading, misspelled names, late or failed deliveries, ridiculous early deadlines that prevent them from reporting in tomorrow’s edition anything that happens this evening, and staff who don’t even read their own product.

Publisher’s Weekly: European Commission’s New E-book Rules Worry Booksellers
CNN Money: Newspapers are thriving in this country (India)
The Telegraph (UK): ‘Coup de Trump’: How US newspapers reported FBI head James Comey’s dismissal

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