Right About Roseanne

what Barr tweeted wasn’t an idea. It was a slur.

.. This is not a “double standards” issue.

.. Donald Trump took to Twitteron Wednesday to denounce Disney’s chairman, Robert Iger, for not apologizing to him for the “HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC.” But he’s the ultimate public figure, whereas Jarrett is a private citizen subjected to unprovoked racial attack by an ABC employee. That the president fails or refuses to appreciate the distinction is the thousandth reminder of his unfitness for office.

.. The relevant question here is: What’s the “totality” of Barr’s work, at least when it comes to political and racial questions?

.. John Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary magazine, summed it up perfectly when he described Barr as “a boor,” a “notorious believer and propagator of conspiracy theories related to 9/11,” and, in all, “not merely a loose cannon but a MIRVed ICBM ready to go off in all directions at any time.”

.. It’s true the players don’t have the legal right. But they have the moral one, especially when their gesture is dignified, considered and silent (even if I also think it’s mistaken); and when the N.F.L. has aggressively blurred the lines between its commercial interests and the totems of American patriotism. To love freedom is to exercise it. That’s not a function of standing for a song.

.. Dungey and Iger acted despite “Roseanne” being a ratings hit. Something mattered more than a bottom line.

The show was supposed to help explain, and humanize, Trump’s base to a frequently unsympathetic and uncomprehending public. Through her tweet, Barr managed to do so all too well. Perhaps the reason Trump voters are so frequently the subject of caricature is that they so frequently conform to type.

Scaramucci learned his press tactics from Wall Street. They’ll only get uglier.

When Anthony Scaramucci took over as White House communications director, prompting the resignation of press secretary Sean Spicer, the initial reaction from Washington journalists was warily optimistic. Where Spicer was aggressive and hostile, Scaramucci would be “smooth ” and affable. He even blew a kiss to end his first press briefing. These looked like signs of a thaw. After all, officials and reporters in Washington may still joke around after a bad story or a slight; the hostility is often for show.  Politics is communal and built on co-dependency.

Finance is different. It is individualist and zero-sum. As a reporter and editor covering Wall Street for 18 years, I studied the industry’s aggressive approach toward the press: Financiers, and the multibillion-dollar companies they work for, are friendly and charming as long as you see things their way, and they do everything they can to win reporters over. But when reporters don’t buy their line, the Wall Street answer is to get intransigent journalists removed from stories.

.. President Trump reportedly liked that Scaramucci’s pushback about an inaccurate CNN story — complete with rumored threat of legal action — led to the departures of three veteran investigative journalists. Scaramucci pointedly called on a CNN reporter at his first briefing and a few days later said, on a hot microphone, that network boss Jeff Zucker “helped me get the job by hitting those guys,” referring to the unemployed reporters.

.. There’s every reason to believe that the White House team sees this as a model: It will not worry about the accuracy of what is published, only whether the tone is Trump-friendly.

.. Of his new job, Scaramucci says, “It is a client service business, and [Trump] is my client.”

.. When a negative report was in the works, company representatives often called up the journalist writing it and tried to ingratiate themselves with a charming introduction and some light chitchat. The point was to humanize the people at the firm so that journalists would feel guilty reporting negatively about it.

.. When a piece was in process, they’d follow up daily, trying to get a sense of who the journalist’s sources were and the direction of the story. The key at this point was to keep their enemies close.

.. My favorite of their techniques, used by two major investment houses, was to flatly deny a story that I knew was accurate.

.. When charm didn’t work, I saw or heard about firms

  • wheedling,
  • pleading,
  • threatening,
  • calling editors and even
  • contacting media executives.

Insults and obscenities were common. One troubled hedge fund’s foul-mouthed manager called me every day for a week with some new litany of abuse.

 .. Other companies tried to co-opt aggressive reporters by offering them lucrative jobs
.. If the full-court press failed, the next step was usually to call the reporter’s editor and complain that the subject didn’t feel he or she was getting a fair shake. The point was to undermine a reporter’s support within their organization, with a view toward neutralizing their reporting.
Anything the reporter had said, even in a casual conversation, could be used as evidence of an ulterior motive. Refusing to finesse quotes was seen as biased intransigence.
.. Every journalist who covers Wall Street knows that banks keep tabs on them, sometimes spoken of as “dossiers,” though they’re nothing fancy: reporters’ articles, backgrounds, editors, potentially revealing comments they may have made to the bank’s communications team. Financial firms have multiple people picking over journalists’ past work, looking for a word or phrase that could be interpreted as biased.
.. A senior executive at Uber once suggested that the company compile opposition research on journalists who wrote critical stories.
Microsoft once broke into the Hotmail account of a blogger while pursuing the source of internal leaks.
.. The last technique I saw used against news organizations was threats, and this is what Scaramucci appears to have mastered with CNN.
  • At different publications, I saw the names of Russian oligarchs removed from stories after threats of lawsuits. ‘
  • Once, an editor killed an entire investigation because the Koch brothers threatened a lawsuit if it went forward.
  • In my first job, writing for a tiny finance trade publication, the treasurer of a multibillion-dollar company told me in an interview that the firm planned to raise money by selling bonds — then called back and threatened to sue if I quoted his on-the-record comment.

.. Business is often a zero-sum proposition, and executives sometimes see their relationships with journalists that way, too.

So forget the pleasant tone and the cheerful smiles that Scaramucci brought at first. The White House press corps now faces a much more aggressive, much more personal fight than the Beltway is used to.

It’s not crazy to believe that a few more journalists may lose something beyond their access to the White House — they may lose their beats or even their jobs