Author: David Folkenflik

On NBC’s Megyn Kelly, Authenticity, And The Elephant In The Room

NPR Enlarge this image Megyn Kelly poses on the set of her new show at NBC Studios in New York. Her first week as host of the morning show was rocky. Charles Sykes/Charles Sykes/Invision/AP hide caption toggle caption Charles Sykes/Charles Sykes/Invision/AP In one of Megyn Kelly’s first episodes as the newest, brightest star on NBC’s Today show, a crewman audibly swore as he accidentally wandered into the path of the camera’s live gaze. And yet his meaningless misstep was far from the week’s most awkward moment. In the space of just a few days, Kelly managed to alienate two...

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Amid Trump Attacks And Snubs, Zucker’s CNN Reclaims Newsy Mission

CNN President Jeff Zucker. Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Turner Attacked on national TV for supposedly serving up “fake news.” Shut out of a White House press briefing in retribution. Accused by a new president of “anger and hatred” and serving as the opposition to his administration. In normal circumstances, news executives might be rushing for cover. In the age of President Trump, CNN president Jeff Zucker is rushing to the barricades, rallying staff and viewers around the banner of quality journalism. “These are the moves that governments around the world make when they’re less sophisticated and want to block the press from doing its job,” Zucker told NPR. Zucker said he has his own message for CNN: “Do not be intimidated. Go where the story goes. Report the facts. Make sure you’ve got it right. And don’t let things that the president says or that the White House does throw you off your game.” It’s not surprising Zucker has a spring in his step — the network has performed strongly, riding public interest in (and concern about) Trump to high ratings, huge digital audiences and record profits. The network has broken major stories in recent weeks that discomfited the administration, such as the scoop that intelligence chiefs had briefed then-President Obama and President-elect Trump about concerns that Russian operatives had compromising material on Trump. CNN anchor Jake Tapper, who followed...

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Radio Conspiracy Theorist Claims Ear Of Trump, Pushes ‘Pizzagate’ Fictions

Brooks Kraft/Getty Images Alex Jones has a following. His radio show is carried on more than 160 stations, and he has more than 1.8 million subscribers on YouTube. And he claims to have the ear of the next president of the United States. Jones is also one of the nation’s leading promoters of conspiracy theories — some of which take on lives of their own. He has been a chief propagator of untrue and wild claims about a satanic sex trafficking ring run by one of Hillary Clinton’s top advisers out of a pizzeria in Washington, D.C. Days before a self-described “investigator” entered the pizzeria and fired off several rounds, Jones suggested he might investigate in person. “I may just have to take off a week and just only research this and actually go to where these places are and stuff,” Jones said. “Fact, I’m looking at getting on a plane. … I can’t just say something and not see it for myself. They go to these pizza places. There’s like satanic art everywhere.” The Daily Beast reported the shooter was a fan on Facebook of Jones’ InfoWars website. Jones did not respond to requests for comment on the incident or his other theories. Jones has claimed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were an inside job, that the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax, and...

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Trump Threatens To Sue The New York Times Over Sex Abuse Allegations

Joshua Lott/Getty Images The whirling dervish that is Donald J. Trump spun ever-faster Thursday, shredding almost everything in his range of vision — Hillary Clinton, his fellow Republicans who fail to support him unequivocally, the growing chorus of women accusing him of sexual misconduct, and especially the press. In just the past 24 hours, Trump threatened to sue the New York Times for recounting the stories of two accusers; he slammed the media for serving, in his telling, as a wing of Clinton’s campaign; and he called a reporter from the Associated Press “a sleazebag” for daring to ask him about those accusations. Trump also denounced a reporter for People magazine who said he forced himself upon her at his Florida estate, as she waited to do an interview of Trump and his wife, Melania. At a rally Thursday, Trump suggested the woman was not attractive enough to merit his attention: “Look at her,” he said, before noting, “Look at her words. I don’t think so.” Trump noted at the rally Thursday, “The only thing Hillary Clinton has going for herself is the press. Without the press, she is absolutely zero.” He continued on a similar vein: “The corporate media in our country is no longer involved in journalism. They’re a political, special interest, no different than any lobbyist or other financial entity with a total political agenda. And...

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Donald Trump, Those Taxes, And ‘The New York Times’

Mike Coppola/Getty Images Early last month, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet told a crowd at Harvard University that he’d happily face time in jail in order to publish Donald Trump’s long-withheld tax forms. Theoretically, Baquet just might have his chance. But almost certainly, only theoretically. The Times’ big-ticket story revealing Trump’s nearly billion-dollar losses two decades ago relies on three documents from state tax forms sent anonymously to the newspaper less than two weeks after Baquet’s remarks, which were reported a few days later. The article goes into depth to capture how Trump could parlay those losses into great gains by using them to erase years of subsequent profits: 18 years, by the Times’ calculation. That said, the paper concedes it does not know how much Trump wrote off nor how much he made. No criminality by Trump was alleged. Trump has refused to release his tax documents himself, a convention for candidates of both parties to demonstrate transparency for the past four decades. From a journalistic standpoint, that reliance on speculation is perhaps eclipsed by the charge from critics of the Times that it broke laws in publishing the article. Before publication of the article, the paper recounted, a lawyer for Trump sent an email terming publication of the tax records illegal because it occurred without Trump’s explicit approval. The Times wrote that the attorney, Marc...

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