"Unhinged" book; reporting on racists; Trump thanks Kanye; Twitter's answer; Hannity's fill-in hosts; Fager back at work; "Crazy Rich Asians" weekend

By Brian Stelter and CNN's media team
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Exec summary: Scroll down for Omarosa's allegations, "60 Minutes" news, Oliver Darcy's update about Twitter and Infowars, the "Crazy Rich Asians" premiere, and much more...

A "coordinated response" to Trump's attacks

"The dirty war on the free press must end." That's the word from an alliance of newspaper publishers.

The Boston Globe is contacting editorial boards across the country and proposing a "coordinated response" to President Trump's "enemy of the people" talk. The idea is to publish editorials on the same day -- next Thursday, Aug. 16 -- to condemn the "dirty war."

Marjorie Pritchard, "who oversees the Globe's editorial page, said about 70 outlets had committed to editorials so far, with the list expected to grow," the AP's Bob Salsberg reported Friday. The American Society of News Editors and the New England Newspaper and Press Association are spreading the word...

Here's the pitch

The Globe's appeal to newspaper editors says, in part, "Publications, whatever their politics, could make a powerful statement by standing together in the common defense of their profession and the vital role it plays in government for and by the people. The impact of Trump's assault on journalism looks different in Boise than it does in Boston. Our words will differ. But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming."

How to report on racists

I think we all agree that journalists shouldn't just hand over the mic to white supremacists for an unedited, unchallenging interview. But how should newsrooms approach this subject matter? How should Sunday's "Unite the Right 2" rally be covered?

I err on the side of "expose the racists" instead of "deny them oxygen." But it's complicated -- and it's an active conversation among journos right now.

"Every time a white supremacist agrees to an interview, or stages a public event, they are trying to weaponize your media platform for recruitment. Those are the stakes of this coverage," The Guardian's Lois Beckett told me while boarding a flight to Charlottesville Friday night. Local authorities in C'ville are bracing for an active weekend, on the one-year anniversary of the deadly rally there.

More from Beckett: "Many people -- including journalists -- like to believe that white supremacists are stupid, that if you just expose an obviously racist idea to public scrutiny, everyone will recognize how foolish it is. That's not how it works. If you print a white supremacist talking point in your newspaper, it does not refute or fact-check itself."

"Yes, covering these groups is important," she said. "But trolls and liars are rarely good sources of information on themselves. You have to do the actual work." More from Beckett in a bit...

NPR defends interview with hate group leader 

Sunday's rally in the shadow of the White House is being organized by Jason Kessler, who also led last year's C'ville rally. He was interviewed on NPR's "Morning Edition" by co-host Noel King on Friday, and there was an uproar about his appearance.

Aaron Rupar of ThinkProgress called it a "disaster," pointing out that a Black Lives Matter activist was interviewed right afterward, "a setup implying that white supremacists and people advocating for racial justice are two sides of the same coin." Slate's Jamelle Bouie said the interview was "absolute journalistic malpractice," and later added, "To repeat a point I make a lot on here, 'why can't you just talk to white supremacists' is a question you ask when you think of racism as an error of processing and not a deeply-held ideology."

In response to some of the criticism, King tweeted that "Morning Edition" "thought long and hard before airing this." When I reached out to comment, an NPR spokeswoman stood up for the segment: Interviewing people "does not mean NPR is endorsing one view over another. Our job is to present the facts and the voices that provide context on the day's events, not to protect our audience from views that might offend them."

A historical POV

What NPR articulated there is a common POV among journalists. But here's the counterpoint from Beckett:
"In the 1920s, a series of newspaper investigations helped the Ku Klux Klan gain hundreds of thousands of new members. The stories were intended to expose the Klan. Instead they helped massively increase its membership and its political power." She recommended historian Felix Harcourt's account of how this happened...

Remembering August 12

This Sunday is the actual anniversary of the violence in Charlottesville. I happened to be on CNN that afternoon... And I remember saying to Ana Cabrera, after we knew one person had been killed, but before President Trump had spoken... "The president could have a calming influence if he so chooses." How naive of me, right?

His remarks that day became known as the "both sides" speech... And it continues to haunt the White House...

Dividing instead of uniting

Jake Tapper's intro on "The Lead" Friday afternoon: "President Trump once again seeing a divided nation and doing the opposite of trying to bring us together."

Tapper was talking about Trump's Friday morning tweets against the NFL players who kneeled, raised fists and otherwise protested during Thursday's preseason games. Trump claimed that most of the players are "unable to define" what the protests are about, which sounds a lot like questioning their intelligence.

On MSNBC, Philip Rucker noted that the president hasn't tweeted anything about the Unite the Right rally: "He has said nothing about it. So he's judging about how professional athletes decide to protest but he says nothing about how KKK members or white supremacists decide to protest."

Trump thanks Kanye...

"Thank you to Kanye West and the fact that he is willing to tell the TRUTH," Trump tweeted Friday night. He said West's support is "making a big difference!"

I thought this tweet was curious because I didn't think Kanye's appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" Thursday night was all that positive for the president.

Yes, Kanye talked about being a free thinker. But at one point he called Trump a "player." And then Kimmel said, "You've so famously and so powerfully said George Bush doesn't care about black people. It makes me wonder, what makes you think that Donald Trump does... or any people at all?" West responded by... smiling and staying silent. Kimmel went to a commercial break...

On Sunday's "Reliable Sources..."

We'll be talking about these issues with April Ryan, Jeff Greenfield, and Indira Lakshmanan... Plus I'll be joined by NYC mayor Bill de Blasio and CNN's Hadas Gold... See you Sunday at 11am ET on CNN...
For the record, part one 
 -- POTUS tweeted on Friday night that he's having dinner with Tim Cook at Bedminster... Here's hoping for a readout...

 -- "Donald Trump Jr. shared a doctored image that makes his father's Gallup presidential approval rating look 10 points higher than it actually is — surprising even people who have otherwise become numb to factual distortions from Trump's inner circle," Avi Selk reports... (WaPo)

 -- If you read this amazing Daily Beast story, you have to read this too: "Behind Hollywood's A-List Bidding War for a McDonald's Monopoly Article..." (Vulture)

Twitter admits Infowars violated its rules... 

But says it will remain on the platform

Oliver Darcy emails: Twitter conceded to me on Friday evening that Infowars had violated its rules. But the company said that, for now, the Infowars account and that of its far-right founder Alex Jones would remain online.

A Twitter spokesperson said that the company concluded that, of the more than a dozen tweets included in CNN's sweeping investigation published Thursday, seven were found to have violated Twitter's rules. Twitter would have required those tweets to be deleted. But almost as soon as our report was published, Jones had his staff delete them. More here…

Twitter allowed the NYT inside...

You don't see this every day: Twitter gave the NYT "a rare look inside one of the social media company's policy meetings." Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey "gathered with 18 colleagues, including the safety team," for a stand-up meeting "to debate ways to make the social media service safer for its users." Here's what happened...

 --> FYI: On Friday, NBC confirmed that Lester Holt will be interviewing Dorsey next Wednesday... I'll be interviewing Dorsey next Friday for CNN...

Fager back at work

Per sources at CBS, "60 Minutes" boss Jeff Fager was back in the office on Friday. This is notable because Ronan Farrow's story contained allegations that Fager made unwanted advances -- and enabled harassment by others at the newsmag.

CBS News said last Sunday that Fager was choosing to remain on vacation while the investigations into alleged misconduct continue. On Thursday, another damaging story came out: Erik Wemple reported that Fager "tolerated years of allegedly abusive conduct" by a senior producer on the staff. That producer said he can't comment "given the pending CBS investigations."

With all of that in mind, at least one of my sources was surprised when Fager was seen in the building on Friday. A "60" spokesman declined to comment...

Hannity's fill-in hosts

Put yourself in Sean Hannity's shoes. You're taking Friday off. Who should host your radio show while you're gone? Any ideas? Hey, how about Trump's legal team?

This is not a joke. On Friday, Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani hosted Hannity's program... The two men expounded on their complaints about the Robert Mueller probe, the FBI, etc... The grievances are too lengthy to list here...

 >> Ari Melber's reaction: "If this looks and sounds bizarre to you as a human being living in 2018, that's because it IS bizarre. Legally and historically, it's also unprecedented..."

 Outstanding Q's 

 -- I came away wondering, was all this talk radio chatter really in the best interests of their client?

 -- Hannity proudly says he's not a journalist, but doesn't he recognize the tension that comes from letting the subjects of his show host the show?

 -- From a plugged-in emailer: "Who approved this?" Meaning: Were the execs at his syndicator on board with this?
For the record, part two
Let me take this chance to say thank you to our "Reliable Sources" summer intern Emily Kohlman, whose last day was Friday... She was a welcome addition to the team... And now she's heading to Europe through the Fulbright Program!

Here are a couple items she spotted today:

 -- Local journalism's suffering is reiterated by a News Measures Research Project analysis of 16,000 stories across 100 US communities, which found that less than half of news stories provided to a community by local media outlets are original… (NiemanLab)

 -- "True" or "Pants on Fire?" Research from the University of Washington and Carnegie Mellon University compares how PolitiFact frames issues to how the media does at large… (Poynter)

"Unhinged" unveiled

Several news outlets obtained copies of Omarosa's book "Unhinged" on Friday, ahead of its Tuesday publication date. She's going to be on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday and "Today" on Monday.

This is why the book matters, summed up in one paragraph by WaPo's Josh Dawsey: "The book is the first insider account from a White House aide that is not largely flattering toward the president. Manigault Newman, who was the highest-ranking black employee in the White House, calls Trump a 'racist, misogynist and bigot.'"

That's a big deal. At the same time, it's true that she lacks credibility. Dawsey tweeted that he was asked by a W.H. official on Friday, "How could you trust a word she says?" Dawsey said he responded, "Why did she make $180,000 a year, have among the highest titles in the government and attend senior staff meetings and visit the Oval?"

 >> MORE: Politico's big headline: "Hell hath no fury like Omarosa scorned"

I wonder...

Does the White House have a copy of the book yet? 

I wonder because Sarah Sanders issued a blistering statement on Friday. Trump reportedly told aides he wanted to fight back. So, Sanders said, "instead of telling the truth about all the good President Trump and his administration are doing to make America safe and prosperous, this book is riddled with lies and false accusations. It's sad that a disgruntled former White House employee is trying to profit off these false attacks, and even worse that the media would now give her a platform, after not taking her seriously when she had only positive things to say about the President during her time in the administration."

FILE THIS AWAY FOR FUTURE REFERENCE: Sanders is opposed to lies, false accusations and false attacks being given a media platform...

Reasons to be skeptical

ON THE ONE HAND: She has tapes, and she's willing to use them to defend herself. Dawsey's story says he has "listened to several of the recordings made by Manigault Newman, which match quotations recounted in the book excerpts."
ON THE OTHER HAND: Some of the most explosive claims in the book are not backed up by tapes or any other evidence, Dawsey notes. The NYT's Maggie Haberman makes the same point here: "The book contains some basic factual errors, such as asserting that an aide who worked on the transition into the White House was brought in months later." And two people cited in the book, George Conway and Frank Luntz, have denied specific claims about them...

Why so few pre-orders?

While we don't know how exactly many people have ordered "Unhinged" so far, we know the book failed to make it on Amazon's best sellers list on Friday, despite widespread media attention and social media chatter. At the time I'm writing this, the book is #130 overall. That's not a bad place to be, in the grand scheme of Amazon, but I would have thought it would hit the top 10 after all this press. I mean, Bob Woodward's "FEAR" is ahead of hers, and it's not out for another month.

So what gives? Yashar Ali's theory makes sense: "She has no credibility with Trump supporters, and she lost credibility with liberals years ago." He added: "She is a woman without a constituency..."

The bottom line...

Jelani Cobb's latest for The New Yorker: "In matters of race, as well as competence, decency, character, and fitness, the public either already knows what it needs to know or intractably believes what it wishes to believe." About Trump, that is. "Omarosa Manigault's book is unlikely to change the balance of either."
For the record, part three
 -- Going forward, the 100-year-old News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne, Indiana will rely on freelancers... The paper "laid off almost all of its remaining staff Friday afternoon..." (WFYI)

-- "The M&A Summer isn't over," Dylan Byers writes. "Shari Redstone may yet merge CBS and Viacom. John Legere is still pursuing Sprint-T-Mobile, and Bob Iger and Rupert Murdoch have six weeks left to best Brian Roberts' offer for Sky. Meanwhile, Tribune Media is back in play..." (PACIFIC)

This provision in the NDAA (clumsily?) targets RT 

Hadas Gold emails: A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that President Trump is expected to sign on Monday caught some attention recently because of Section 1085, called "Disclosure Requirements for United States-Based Foreign Media Outlets." Some wondered whether the section, which calls for foreign media outlets' info to be sent to the FCC, would include outlets like the BBC. But Claude Chafin, comms director for the House Armed Services Committee, said the section is solely about those media organizations who are already registered with the DOJ as a "foreign agent," and is targeted at one outlet: RT. The amendment was offered by Reps. Elise Stefanik and Seth Moulton, he said. Chafin said the amendment was about "members on both sides of the aisle wanting to do everything they could to confront Russia... this is part of a packet of provision targeting Russia." He noted that the section is specific to MVPD's -- a way to single out channels that are distributed via cable/satellite...

ICYMI: This week's "Reliable" podcast

"Blue wave?" Try "blue blizzard." CNN's Harry Enten suggested that name on this week's "Reliable Sources" podcast. We also talked about polling victories and media misconceptions. I think you'll be entertained. Tune in via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or TuneIn. Plus, read Daniella Emanuel's recap here...
The entertainment desk

"Crazy Rich Asians" weekend

"Crazy Rich Asians" understandably "feels like an occasion -- a big, colorful coming-out party for Asian (and especially Asian-American) talent," Brian Lowry writes in his review.

"Set aside the cultural significance, though, and director Jon M. Chu has delivered a highly satisfying, decidedly old-fashioned romantic comedy," Lowry says, "garnished with soapy elements and enough mouth-watering shots of food to inspire a big meal before or after."

Interviews with the stars

Lisa Respers France talked with some of the film's stars about whether it's the "Asian 'Black Panther'" and why the film should be allowed to fail.

Fail? Meaning... There are mounting cultural expectations for the film... But "we should be allowed to fail," Nico Santos said. "How many chances do white people get? How many [crappy] movies do they get to make over and over again?"

"They get so many chances to fail at the box office," Santos added. "This is our first chance, so let us throw the dart. If it doesn't stick, then ok. Give us another dart."

Read the rest here...
For the record, part four
By Lisa Respers France:

 -- Talk is once again turning to Idris Elba as the next James Bond. Fans are shaken and stirred at the possibility...

 -- Demi Lovato has canceled her fall tour dates as she focuses on her recovery...

 -- And we now know why Justin Bieber was crying... sort of.

Thanks for reading! Email me your feedback... See you Sunday...


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