Trump’s TV megaphone — Lachlan defends Fox News — NYT tops 4 million subs — Bill Keller retiring

By Michael Calderone | Originally Published: Politico

AS PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP continues to stoke fears about immigration in the days before the midterms — including framing a caravan of migrants far from the U.S. border as a menacing “invasion” — news organizations run the risk of amplifying false or misleading claims about a nonexistent threat.

— Both Fox News and CNN took Trump’s immigration remarks at the White House live yesterday, while MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace explained why her network wasn’t. “Because he has used immigration in blatantly political ways, and in an abundance of caution, we’ve decided to monitor those remarks, fact-check them against Donald Trump’s rhetoric and record on immigration, and then bring you the important news from them,” she said.

— News networks faced criticismduring the 2016 election for allowingTrump to call into news shows at length and broadcasting his primetime rallies. The different programming decisions Thursday signaled networks are still grappling with how to responsibly cover the president. “MSNBC is 100 percent correct to blow off live airing,” responded Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple. “As long as CNN and Fox News continue carrying BS like this, Trump will continue delivering it in these sorts of settings.”

— When CNN cut away, host Jake Tapper proceeded to fact-check Trump’s claims. Tapper later said CNN covered the president live because the White House said he would be introducing a new policy on asylum. “That’s not actually what happened,” said Tapper, adding that the president just regurgitated “the same speech he gives every night on the campaign trail.”

Good morning and welcome to Morning Media. Wemple also questions whether the networks should carry Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address live. You can reach me at Daniel Lippman ( contributed to the newsletter. ArchivesSubscribe.

IT’S NOT ONLY TV NETWORKS who need to decide how much attention to give to Trump’s immigration rhetoric. “Can’t speak for rest of media, but the Daily is deliberately playing down these events because they are clearly not policy remarks or policy announcements,” tweeted Michael Barbaro, host of New York Times podcast “The Daily.” “They are deliberate attempts to inflame the electorate before the midterms. Just happens to be from the White House.”

TONIGHT: CNN airs “Democracy in Peril: The War on Voting Rights” at 11 p.m. CNN’s Kyung Lah speaks with Eric Holder, Jason Kander, Kris Kobach, Molly McGrath and Ari Berman.

‘ARE YOU EMBARRASSED BY WHAT THEY DO?’ veteran New Yorker writer Ken Auletta asked 21st Century Fox executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch yesterday during an exchange about Fox News. “I’m not embarrassed by what they do at all,” Murdoch responded on stage at the DealBook conference, adding that the company is the only one offering a strong conservative primetime lineup and “we all have to be more tolerant of each other’s views.”

— Murdoch defended Fox News amid increased scrutiny for on-air remarks seen as promoting conspiracy theories, and his appearance follows “Modern Family” co-creator Steve Levitan telling Variety that he won’t work with the Fox broadcast network if Fox News remains “a destructive voice.” Describing himself as economically conservative and “more liberal on social policy,” Murdoch at one point suggested to moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin that the “biggest critics of Fox News aren’t watching Fox News.”

ZUCKER SAYS CNN AUDIENCE STAYS FOR TRUMP COVERAGE:“People say all the time, ‘Oh, I don’t want to talk about Trump. I’ve had too much Trump,’” CNN president Jeff Zucker told Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo. “And yet at the end of the day, all they want to do is talk about Trump. We’ve seen that, anytime you break away from the Trump story and cover other events in this era, the audience goes away. So we know that, right now, Donald Trump dominates.”

ROMNEY CALLS MEDIA ‘OUR FRIEND’: “I sometimes become irritated by stories I know are wrong, especially when they are about me,” writes former Republican presidential nominee and Utah Senate candidate Mitt Romney. “But I cannot conceive of thinking or saying that the media or any responsible news organization is an enemy. The media is essential to our Republic, to our freedom, to the cause of freedom abroad, and to our national security. It is very much our friend.”

TRUMP DEFENDS CALLING MEDIA ‘ENEMY’: Axios’s Jim VandeHei pressed Trump about calling the news media the “enemy of the people” in an interview airing Sunday on HBO, at one point telling the president: “There’s got to be a part of you that’s like: ‘Dammit, I’m scared that someone is gonna take it too far.’” Trump responded, “It’s my only form of fighting back. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t do that.”

— On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” VandeHei said Trump “seemed most comfortable” in the interview when discussing the media. “He wanted that confrontation. He so believes that he is aggrieved, that he is like the victim of a media that’s more powerful than him,” VandeHei said.

— “It’s clear what he wanted to talk about on that day — of all the things that were happening in the world,” VandeHei added. “He wanted to talk about his obsession with the media.” (Watch via Mediaite)

SAUDI PRINCE TRIED SMEARING KHASHOGGI IN CALL TO W.H.:The Washington Post’s John Hudson, Souad Mekhennet and Carol Leonnig reportthat “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman described slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a dangerous Islamist days after his disappearance in a phone call with President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and national security adviser John Bolton.” The crown prince, they write, “urged Kushner and Bolton to preserve the U.S.-Saudi alliance.”

WATCH: Washington Post CEO and publisher Fred Ryan, who was honored last night at the International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism awards, dedicated his speech to Khashoggi. “Jamal did absolutely nothing to deserve this cruel fate,” Ryan said. “He was simply doing the job of a journalist, which is to tell the truth.”

THE NEW YORK TIMES TOPPED FOUR MILLION subscribers in the third quarter, with more than three million paid digital-only subscribers. The Times’s Jaclyn Peiser reports that 143,000 of the 203,000 new digital-only subscribers signed up for digital news products, “with the remainder paying for the company’s cooking and crossword features.

— How big can the Times get online? Publisher A.G. Sulzberger said he was hesitant to discuss numbers when asked that question last week at CNN’s “Citizen” forum, though he acknowledged “throwing numbers like 10 million around.”

— Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton writes of the Times’s growth: “Take 98 percent of whatever energy you devote to worrying about the future of the Times and rechannel it into worrying about your local daily, which is very likely approaching existential crisis.”

RECODE TO FOLD INTO VOX.COM: The Wall Street Journal’s Benjamin Mullin reports that tech site Recode, which was acquired by Vox Media three years ago, will become a section of Recode editor-in-chief Dan Frommer is leaving the company; however, Mullin reports that staff cuts aren’t expected.

— Recode founder Kara Swisher addressed the changes and also wrote how Recode will be “shifting our editorial approach to focus writers on pointed narratives rather than simply topics or specific companies.” She added, “We will remain skeptical, infused with the recognition that disruptive technologies unleash unexpected consequences, that the collision between human behavior and complex algorithms never goes precisely as anticipated.”

OPENING: Recode editor.


Bill Keller, the founding editor-in-chief of the Marshall Project, plans to retirenext year. Keller spent more than three decades at the New York Times, rising to executive editor, before helping launch the nonprofit criminal justice newsroom in 2014. He’ll remain on the job until a successor is appointed.

Don Peck, longtime deputy editor of The Atlantic, has been promoted to top print editor. And Denise Wills, currently features editor, moves up to deputy editor.

David Spiegel is joining New York Media as head of sales. He was most recently chief revenue officer at Inverse.

Jessica Sibley, who most recently served as Forbes’s SVP of ad sales, has been promoted to chief sales officer.

Matt Reed, most recently an editor on AP’s West regional editing desk, is joining the Washington Post as the Universal Desk’s new overnight homepage editor.

Linah Mohammad is joining the Washington Post as the assistant producer for new daily podcast “Post Reports.” She was most recently at NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

Geoff West has started as U.S. Supreme Court reporter for Talk Media News. He previously was money in politics reporter at the Center for Responsive Politics.

Karl Evers-Hillstrom is now a money in politics reporter at CRP. He previously was a reporter at the The Globe, a regional newspaper in Worthington, Minn.

Henry C.J. Jackson is now director of editorial events at the Los Angeles Times. He previously was press secretary at NantWorks and is also a Politico alum.

David Oliver, most recently an associate editor of social media at U.S. News & World Report, is joining USA Today’s Travel vertical later this month as social media editor.


— Trump is expected to nominate Heather Nauert — former Fox News anchor and current State Department spokesperson — as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, reports the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Bender and Courtney McBride.

— Donerail Group, McClatchy and AIM Media have submitted bids for Tribune Publishing, Bloomberg’s Nabila Ahmed, Kiel Porter, and Gerry Smith report.

— Gannett newspapers won’t be pushing back print deadlines, meaning readers on Wednesday morning will have to turn to the web for election results.

— The New York Times’s Jim Rutenberg writes that major book publishers, film distributors and networks “have all helped feed a segment of the media business that should be called what it is — the Incitement Industry.”