Over the weekend, at least two noteworthy media-related things happened, neither of them related (at least directly) to the White House Correspondents' Dinner. We discuss both matters on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of article.]
The President of the United States and the White House Chief of Staff discussed the possibility of doing away with the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment freedom of the press. As my guest today, Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote last night, that "probably should have led every paper and TV newscast in America, but for many everyday news consumers this wasn't even the biggest media-related outrage of the weekend."
The larger outrage, at least for many, seems to have come from liberal and progressive New York Times readers who called in to the paper, in reportedly huge numbers, to cancel their subscriptions following the first op-ed filed by the paper's new hire, Bret Stephens, a rightwing, former Wall Street Journal columnist and climate science denier.
I chat with Bunch --- author, journalist and longtime writer of the Philly.com's Attytood blog, which he describes as an "uber-opinionated, fair-but-dangerously unbalanced opinion blog" --- about both concerns today, and what they may mean for the future of U.S. news gathering, reporting and publishing.
On Trump's First Amendment threat, he notes how difficult it actually is to amend the Constitution and that the Trump Administration, after all, appears to be "the gang that couldn't shoot straight." On the other hand, Bunch cautions, "the fact that they would make these threats absolutely is newsworthy."
"The reason I wrote a piece that was largely about the Bret Stephens controversy, but also wrapped in this whole First Amendment thing, is I feel there's a relationship between the two," he tells me. "The press in this country is under assault in ways it hasn't been before. The media, to fight back, needs to be on its 'A' game. It can't make unforced errors, which the Bret Stephens thing arguably is." Bunch also goes on to explain how papers like the Times came to offer the fake balance that they have, for years, published on their op-ed pages, and suggests that perhaps it's time to do away with that all together. He explains why.
We also discuss another column of his from over the weekend, arguing that it will take years to undo the long-lasting damage that Trump has already brought to both the nation and the Presidency in just his first 100 days.
Also on today's program: Trump already appears to have violated federal election laws for his 2020(!) campaign; his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross huddles with other millionaires and billionaires to make light of the recent unauthorized, illegal, deadly and expensive U.S. cruise missile attack on Syria as little more than 'after-dinner entertainment'; and a new study by the American Press Institute and the Associated Press finds that, yes, Americans (even younger ones) are willing to actually pay for their news...at least under certain conditions...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)