When President Trump picked someone to conduct his first on-camera interview since testing positive for the coronavirus, he made the safest of choices: Dr. Marc Siegel, a physician and Fox News personality who has criticized Democratic governors for closing down schools and businesses to fight the pandemic and declared that Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, is “there to serve the president.”
Dr. Siegel did not disappoint. In an interview that aired on Friday’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” he asked about the president’s symptoms (“I didn’t have a problem breathing,” Mr. Trump said). And he did not object when the president said the Secret Service agents who escorted him on a photo op limousine ride at the Walter Reed medical center “thought it was very important” that the commander in chief acknowledge his fans.
Then Dr. Siegel offered a friendly suggestion for how Mr. Trump might get creative for his next meeting with his Democratic rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr. “How would you feel about a debate outside on Miami Beach?” the doctor said.
At the most politically and physically vulnerable point of his presidency, Mr. Trump has retreated to his safe space: conservative media programs, where he can rely on warm, ego-boosting chats with supporters like Maria Bartiromo, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin.
In these cozy surroundings — his primary way of communicating with the public as he shuns interviews with most other journalists — Mr. Trump has only himself to fear: There is virtually no risk that he will encounter a persistent questioner pressing an uncomfortable topic, or that he will appear as defensive or unruly as he did during the first presidential debate.
But his decision to remain within a right-wing echo chamber has threatened to shut off Mr. Trump from a much larger — and electorally important — audience of potential voters and political independents whose votes he will need if he is to win the election in just over three weeks.
The president’s refusal to participate in the now-canceled second presidential debate because organizers shifted it to an all-virtual event amounted to walking away from a TV viewership of close to 70 million viewers, baffling political media experts. And while Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Hannity command the biggest audiences in their respective fields, their programs have nowhere near the reach of a debate that airs on a dozen broadcast and cable networks simultaneously.
“Trump should want 10 more debates right now,” Alex Conant, a Republican consultant who has overseen communications strategy on Senate and presidential campaigns, said in an interview.
With Mr. Trump trailing in almost every poll of battleground states, Mr. Conant said, the president’s demands that the debate be held on his terms “was very much an emotional response, instead of a strategic one.”
Mr. Conant noted how successful Mr. Trump was in 2016 by effectively flooding broadcast, print and online news media with his attacks on Hillary Clinton, and in his use of that year’s debates to rebound from the disclosure that he had once boasted on “Access Hollywood” that he could grab women’s genitals with impunity.
“That proved to be an effective strategy for him, because he could go on any media outlet in the country and say Hillary Clinton is a crook,” Mr. Conant said. Now, “because he doesn’t have as consistent a message on Joe Biden or a record to defend, he has been unable to do that.”
Mr. Trump’s approach to campaign media mirrors his electoral strategy, focusing primarily on one bloc of voters: his base.
His two-hour session on Friday with Mr. Limbaugh began with the host playing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” — a staple at Trump campaign rallies — and tape of people chanting, “We love you! We love you!”
Mr. Limbaugh billed the interview as “the largest virtual rally in radio history.” But the appearance ultimately proved more of a hybrid — part pep talk, as Mr. Limbaugh repeatedly tried to reassure his audience (and his guest) that Mr. Trump was the best man for the White House, and part venting session, as the president recited a host of familiar grievances.
Mr. Trump rattled off a long list of people he said had undermined him, including Mr. Biden, Mrs. Clinton and the former F.B.I. director James Comey. He complained about not being recognized for a Nobel Peace Prize nomination, a slight he pinned on the mainstream media. “They don’t cover any good stuff with me,” he grumbled.
It was a marathon appearance that, at best, might have attracted roughly 10 to 15 million listeners, according to Michael Harrison, the publisher of the talk-radio trade magazine Talkers — big by radio standards, but still a fraction of the television audience that watches presidential debates.
His 8 a.m. appearance on Thursday on Ms. Bartiromo’s Fox Business show — which the White House arranged only the night before — drew about 376,000 viewers, according to Nielsen.
In cherry-picking platforms where he is shielded from uncomfortable questions, Mr. Trump may fall into a political trap of his own making.
The uncertainty over his health — he and his doctors have refused to disclose details about how sick he is with the coronavirus — can seem more glaring when even a Trump confidant like Mr. Hannity cannot glean a straight answer from him. On Thursday, Mr. Hannity twice asked the president if he had in recent days tested negative for the virus; Mr. Trump ignored the question both times. “I know when I’m in good shape or not,” the president said.
Five million people watched the “Hannity” interview, repeatedly hearing the president pause to cough and clear his throat.
And while right-wing hosts often try to steer Mr. Trump toward friendly topics, the president can sometimes miss his cues.
This happened several times during his appearance with Mr. Limbaugh, whom Mr. Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom this year. The host asked the president to refute claims from Mr. Biden that he would take away health insurance from Americans with pre-existing medical conditions.
Mr. Trump responded by calling his opponents liars and then proceeded to bring up one of the most damaging stories of his presidency: an article in The Atlantic — which he has strongly denied — that quoted unnamed sources saying they heard the president call Americans who were killed in combat “losers.”
Mr. Limbaugh let this digression go on for a while before interrupting. “But there’s still this confusion about pre-existing conditions out there,” he said, urging the president back on track.
In his time in the White House, Mr. Trump has granted more than 100 interviews to Fox News programs, and only a handful to other major networks, according to a tally by Mark Knoller, a CBS correspondent and statistician of the White House press corps.
And while the White House is in discussions with NBC News about a possible televised town hall-style event on Thursday with the president, that appearance may prove to be an exception. In the works is another town hall to be hosted by Eric Bolling of Sinclair News, the right-leaning broadcaster that oversees local news stations in major markets across the country. Mr. Bolling said on Friday that the event is still on for Oct. 19 in Pennsylvania.
“I’ve been in regular contact with the campaign and the White House. Both have assured me it will happen,” Mr. Bolling said.
In his case, Mr. Bolling said the president would expand his audience because Sinclair programs air on mainstream stations across the country — albeit with an interviewer the president knows and is comfortable with. “I think it’s an important show of strength to undecided voters just days from the election,” Mr. Bolling said of the president’s participation.
As Mr. Trump begins to appear in less controlled media environments, he is taking the risk that his illness won’t get the better of him.
The interview with Dr. Siegel on Fox News, his first on camera since he became ill but still not a live broadcast, was intended to show his progression. But there were subtle reminders of the disease that has infected Mr. Trump and many in the White House.
Fox News did not send a camera crew to the White House because of the health risks. Instead, Dr. Siegel asked his questions from a studio in New York while Mr. Trump sat in front of a remote-controlled camera. The appearance was taped during the afternoon and edited before the 8 p.m. broadcast.
Dr. Siegel practices internal medicine at N.Y.U. Langone Health in Manhattan. But the medical institution took a step to distance itself from the doctor’s televised effort to evaluate Mr. Trump from afar.
“In his role as senior medical correspondent for Fox News, Dr. Siegel expresses his own personal opinions,” a Langone spokesman said on Friday. “His comments do not reflect the opinion of N.Y.U. Langone Health.”
Media Beat: October 29, 2020 | FYIMusicNews – FYI Music News
Two Facebook users are seeking damages on behalf of hundreds of thousands of Canadians whose personal data may have been improperly used for political purposes.
The proposed class-action lawsuit filed by Calgary residents Saul Benary and Karma Holoboff asks the Federal Court to order the social-media giant to bolster its security practices to better protect sensitive information and comply with federal privacy law. – Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
A congressional hearing Wednesday left Facebook, Google and Twitter facing conflicting pressures — from Democrats who say they should patrol their sites and services more aggressively and Republicans who felt the companies should have a more hands-off role with most political speech. The mixed signals threatened to add new complications to the tech giants’ already controversial work to protect the world’s most popular digital communications channels from abuse. And it evoked the lingering, widespread unease in Washington with the political and economic leverage the three companies have amassed and the ways they seek to wield it. – Tony Romm, Rachel Lerman, Cat Zakrzewski, Heather Kelly & Elizabeth Dwoskin, The Washington Post
Platforms like Facebook and Google are sharing their plans to pause political ads around Election Day. That’s won’t stop all paid campaigning. – Arielle Pardes, Wired
Spotify’s content policy is in the spotlight amid controversy over Joe Rogan’s hosting of Alex Jones on his podcast, even though Spotify has banned Jones’ own show from its platform. BuzzFeed reported that Spotify won’t tell podcast hosts whom they can have on their shows. – The Information
Tencent Music Entertainment Group, the leading online music entertainment platform in China, and Merlin, the global digital rights agency for the world’s independent labels, have expanded the terms of their multi-year licensing and cooperation agreement.
Merlin members account for more than 15% of the global digital music market and has deals with over 30 digital partners. – Jem Aswad, Variety
Watch “We told Americans that Canadians all vote the same way
Media election planners prepare for a night of mystery – Assiniboia Times
NEW YORK — This coming weekend, CNN’s Sam Feist will distribute to his staff copies of the testimony news executives gave to Congress when they tried to explain how television networks got 2000’s disputed election so spectacularly wrong.
It’s required reading — perhaps never more than this year. Media planners are preaching caution in the face of a surge in early voting, high anxiety levels overall and a president who raises the spectre of another disputed election.
“We need to prepare ourselves for a different kind of election night,” said Feist, CNN’s Washington bureau chief, “and the word I keep using is ‘patience.’”
Nearly half of people polled recently by the Pew Research Center said they intend to follow election night returns closely. It’s easy to see this year eclipsing 2008’s record of 71.5 million people who watched for results, and many will have laptops, tablets or smartphones ready for a multi-screen experience.
CBS News built a new studio where pop stars once visited MTV’s “Total Request Live,” and Fox News hired the makers of the “Fortnite” video game to design whiz-bang graphics, an illustration of the money and planning that goes in to the quadrennial event.
Live television coverage will extend into the early morning of Nov. 4 and perhaps beyond. NBC News has mapped out a schedule to stay on the air for days if necessary, said Noah Oppenheim, NBC News president.
Besides the traditional broadcast and cable news networks, there will be live-stream options from the likes of The Washington Post and others, including websites filled with graphics and raw numbers.
“There is an odd combination of anticipation and uncertainty about this election night, more than any other election night I can remember,” said David Bohrman, a television veteran who this year is producing the CBS News coverage.
Election nights always have surprises, but the worry this year is being driven by the large number of people voting early or by mail, in part driven by the coronavirus. By many estimates, the early vote will eclipse the number of people going to polling places on Election Day for the first time.
That’s an extraordinary change: In 1972, only 5 per cent of votes were cast prior to Election Day, and by 2016 it was 42.5 per cent. That profoundly affects how the results are reported.
Some states begin counting early votes as they come in. Some wait until Election Day or even after polls close. Some key states count absentee ballots only if they are postmarked by Election Day. Elsewhere, ballots can arrive as late as Nov. 13, as is the case in Ohio.
Some states have enough experience that their counts usually go quickly and smoothly. Other counts are more problematic. Florida and North Carolina are two battleground states that have, historically, done well at counting and posting the results of mail ballots on election night.
Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are prohibited by state law from processing mail ballots until Election Day. It can be a cumbersome process, and since neither state has experience counting as many ballots as are expected this year, it may be days before their results are known.
With more Democrats than Republicans voting early, the pace of how votes are reported is also important. Some states will release early votes before the Election Day tallies. That can make the first numbers shown on the screen appear deceptive, said Steve Kornacki, elections guru at MSNBC.
The challenge is knowing all those idiosyncrasies and communicating them clearly, he said.
“When I say I want a few more days (to study), that’s why,” he said.
Instead of listing how many voting precincts are reporting, ABC News will tell viewers the percentage of expected votes that are in so far, said Marc Burstein, senior executive producer who’s been in charge of ABC election coverage since 2000.
“Our byword of the night is transparency,” Burstein said. “We will tell people what we know. We will tell people what we don’t know, and we will tell them why.”
News organizations will still declare winners in individual states much as they have done in the past, using a combination of poll results and actual vote totals. Again, the expectation is these calls may be slower than in past years.
Producers say viewers should look to Florida as an early bellwether, because of its importance, efficiency in counting and early poll closing time. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog said last week that if Democrat Joe Biden wins Florida, his chances of winning the presidency shoot up to 99 per cent. If President Donald Trump wins the state, his reelection chances jump to 39 per cent, what Silver calls essentially a tossup.
North Carolina and Ohio are other states where relatively early results could give an indication of how the night is going.
“If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected,” said Alan Komissaroff, Fox News senior vice-president of news and politics.
More reporting from outside of studios will likely be on display, with news organizations placing greater emphasis on voter integrity issues and the possibility of legal challenges. PBS is tapping a dozen public broadcasting reporters from across the country to contribute to its coverage. The Washington Post is stationing reporters in 36 states.
Networks are hiring election law experts in case those issues need to be addressed.
Because of the coronavirus, CBS’ Bohrman said people who will be on the network’s new set are being tested every day.
ABC News’ Manhattan set isn’t big enough for everyone to be 6 feet apart, so the network will operate out of three different studios on election night, including the set of “The View,” Burstein said.
At some point, after months of pontificating and speculating, the conclusion of the 2020 election will be known. Four years ago, The Associated Press declared Trump the next president at 2:29 a.m. the day after the election.
“We’re going in prepared but without preconceptions,” Oppenheim said.
AP’s Election Decision Editor Stephen Ohlemacher in Washington contributed to this report.
LILLEY: Media ignores bombshells on Biden, once again – Toronto Sun
Article content continued
Despite all of that, Biden wasn’t asked a single question about any of the revelations on Wednesday when he spoke with reporters.
“The manner in which this story has been covered can only be described as the ‘lapdog press,’ as contrasted with the ‘watchdog press,’” DePauw University media professor Jeffrey McCall told Fox News.
The real problem is, this isn’t just restricted to reporting from Fox News or the New York Post, outlets the left will dismiss no matter how solid the reporting.
They also ignore reporting from left-leaning outlets like Politico or Pro Publica.
Back in February, Pro Publica ran an extensive piece on the business dealings of Joe Biden’s brother James with mentions of Hunter and how all the Biden family business relates back to Joe’s political connections.
It detailed how Jim Biden had many questionable and failed businesses, also many backers, based off of his connection to Joe and Joe’s career in the Senate or runs for the presidency.
Bad loans, bankruptcy, even a lawsuit that the report quoted as saying that Jim Biden would generate business, “through his family name and his resemblance to his brother, United States Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware.”
There was no rush of coverage from other media outlets though, even though Biden was the clear front runner to take on Donald Trump at that point.
The same thing happened months earlier when Politico ran an extensive piece.
That story detailed the time, back in 2006, when Jim and Hunter Biden took over a New York hedge fund with plans to market it to unions friendly to Joe Biden’s political career and foreign entities that would want to donate to his looming presidential campaign but would be banned from doing so for legal reasons.
Media Beat: October 29, 2020 | FYIMusicNews – FYI Music News
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