Ben Smith 300+ days without an official White House press briefing » Audiences forgive advertisers » America’s best sports writing

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We might be on the verge of war. We might be on the verge of an impeachment trial. Know what we’re not on the verge of? An official White House press briefing from the official White House press secretary.

And, just thinking out loud here, but isn’t it time we have one? Isn’t now that time?

CNN’s Oliver Darcy pointed out that Monday marked 301 days without a formal White House press briefing. I’ll point out that today makes it 303 days. I also will point out that the current press secretary has never held an official press briefing.

As CNN’s Anderson Cooper said Monday night, “If you’re wondering ‘Who is Stephanie Grisham?’ you’re probably not a regular Fox News viewer. Because that channel is seemingly the one place she feels safe enough to regularly appear. And yes, your taxpayer dollars are indeed paying Miss Grisham to avoid you, ironically, like it’s her job.”

It is, indeed, true that Grisham does appear on Fox News, but let’s be real: She is not going to be pushed by anyone at Fox News. Her answers are going to go unchallenged and it’s not as if she is getting the hard-nosed, fastball questions to begin with.

This isn’t a right-left thing. This is an American thing. This is a crucial time in our country. We really could be on the doorstep of war and if that’s not the time for the administration to be asked questions, when is?

Yes, President Trump does talk to the media, but not in a formal setting where he can be asked the type of lengthy, complicated questions and pertinent follow-ups that this moment requires. And while we all should embrace ever-changing technology and ways to communicate, we all can agree that a tweet is not the proper platform to explain such critical topics as war and outside interference into our elections.

There are those who might argue that the previous press secretary, Sarah Sanders, wasn’t always upfront with the media, so what’s the point of press conferences anyway?

Well, here’s the point: It’s a chance for the media, representing the public, to ask questions and get the White House on the record. It’s the moment to get the White House’s official stance. And, at its most basic function, it’s when the president, through his appointed representative, tells the American people what the heck is going on — or at least a version we can listen to and make our decisions come November.

All Americans, not just those most critical of Trump, should be bothered by the lack of transparency.

It has now been 303 days … and counting.

Interesting story by Variety’s Brian Steinberg: according to research, viewers don’t think negatively about advertisers of news programs even if the hosts of those news programs have strong political leanings.

For example, whether the news is grim or being delivered by a right-leaning pundit such as Sean Hannity or a left-leaning one such as Rachel Maddow, advertisers won’t be punished by viewers. Laura Molen, president of NBCUniversal ad sales, told Steinberg that viewers, “without fail say they don’t penalize a brand for sponsoring something that the company may not stand for.”

What’s odd about this is some viewers threaten to boycott advertisers when a host says something controversial. And we’ve seen shows — Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” quickly comes to mind — where advertisers have pulled ads.

But Jeff Collins, executive vice president of ad sales for Fox News, told Steinberg that viewers “understand the distinction between editorial and advertising.”

Check out Steinberg’s story. Lots of useful and newsworthy information, including what all this means as we draw closer to the 2020 election.


Baseball reporter Ken Rosenthal from The Athletic. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Who is having the best offseason in Major League Baseball? I’d say the website, The Athletic. In particular, The Athletic baseball writers Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich. There have been two big stories during the MLB offseason and both have involved cheating scandals. And both stories were broken by Rosenthal and Drellich.

In November, Rosenthal and Drellich broke the blockbuster story that the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros used technology to steal catchers’ signs and, presumably, help their hitters know what kind of pitches were coming. Harsh penalties are expected to be handed down to the Astros in the coming weeks.

Then on Tuesday, the two reported that the Boston Red Sox might have used video to steal signs in 2018.

While it’s difficult to confirm financial numbers — subscribers, revenues, expenditures, company value, etc. — there’s no question that the journalism at The Athletic has been been superb. My experience as a reader is that the site mostly provides the kind of longform features that we are seeing less and less of in daily newspapers. However, breaking news often is what catches the attention of those who are not subscribers, and surely the scoops by Rosenthal and Drellich have been good for business.

If you love reading about the media (and if you’re reading this then I assume you do), be sure to check out this piece from the Columbia Journalism Review and GuardianUS. They talked to those in the medi

Meet this smart constituent.

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