From Tom Jones | Poynter <[email protected]>
Subject A week in and 2023 is already full of news
Date January 9, 2023 12:31 PM
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** A week in and 2023 is already full of news
Supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro clash with police as they storm the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil on Sunday. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

It’s only Jan. 9?

The new year is just over a week old and already we’ve been slammed with a month’s worth of news.

We finally have a new speaker of the House when Republicans painstakingly got their act together and elected Kevin McCarthy after a week and 15 votes — the longest process since before the Civil War. “That was easy, huh?” McCarthy joked in his first speech as speaker. The “Today” show’s Julie Tsirkin had a good breakdown ([link removed]) of what is up next for McCarthy and the new House, starting today.

Then, over the weekend, the NFL returned to action for the first time since Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field last Monday. Incredibly, and because of the quick response of medical personnel, Hamlin has gone from needing CPR on the field to being put on a breathing tube to now breathing on his own. Hamlin, who is said to be neurologically intact, is now speaking and spent much of Sunday posting on social media, including this inspirational tweet ([link removed]) . Teams across the NFL honored Hamlin, including highlighting the number “3” on the 30-yard lines of many fields. Hamlin wears the No. 3.

Hamlin’s frightening and incredible journey over the past week dominated not only sports networks such as ESPN, but all news outlets, including the cable news networks, which covered the story extensively and responsibly.

Then Sunday, we saw rioters storming a country’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential offices because they were upset about a fairly held election. Sound familiar? In scenes reminiscent of the Jan. 6 insurrection, thousands of supporters of Brazil’s right-wing former president, Jair Bolsonaro, attacked the country’s leadership buildings, wrongly claiming that the election was rigged against Bolsonaro, who lost to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in last October’s election. (Here’s the latest from The New York Times ([link removed]) , The Washington Post ([link removed]) and The Associated Press ([link removed]) .

President Joe Biden tweeted Sunday evening ([link removed]) , “I condemn the assault on democracy and on the peaceful transfer of power in Brazil. Brazil’s democratic institutions have our full support and the will of the Brazilian people must not be undermined. I look forward to continuing to work with @LulaOficial.”

[link removed]

** Collier Prize for State Government Accountability

The Collier Prize for State Government Accountability, one of the largest journalism awards in the nation, recognizes the best investigative reporting on state government in any medium and is available to any U.S. news organization. Deadline for entries is Jan. 31, 2023. Winners will be announced at the 2023 White House Correspondent’s Association dinner.

Click here to enter. ([link removed])

** Michael Strahan’s critical comments
A video board at Levi's Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, shows a message for Damar Hamlin on Sunday. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

The extensive media coverage of Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest was almost entirely positive and without controversy, with ESPN leading the way with particularly strong reporting, updates and thoughtful analysis. But there were some raised eyebrows because of something tweeted by Fox Sports’ Skip Bayless. The Bills-Bengals game in which Hamlin collapsed had playoff seeding implications — something that no one cared about as soon as Hamlin went down, but something that Bayless alluded to when Hamlin’s condition was still unknown.

Bayless tweeted ([link removed]) last Monday night, not long after Hamlin was carried by ambulance off the field, “No doubt the NFL is considering postponing the rest of this game - but how? This late in the season, a game of this magnitude is crucial to the regular-season outcome … which suddenly seems so irrelevant.”

Fans and athletes immediately slammed Bayless, who sent out a follow-up tweet ([link removed]) that said, “Nothing is more important than that young man's health. That was the point of my last tweet. I’m sorry if that was misunderstood but his health is all that matters. Again, everything else is irrelevant. I prayed for him & will continue to.”

On Tuesday, on his FS1 show “Undisputed,” Bayless appeared without usual co-host Shannon Sharpe and tried to further explain his tweet ([link removed]) . Sharpe returned to the show Wednesday and had an awkward exchange ([link removed]) with Bayless when he suggested Bayless take down his tweet and Bayless interrupted Sharpe to say he would not.

Then came Sunday when Fox Sports’ Michael Strahan appeared to call out Bayless on “Fox NFL Sunday.” Strahan said ([link removed]) , “You spoke about humanity, but there were things done here, by someone here at this network, that were inhumane. I’m sorry to take this route, but I just felt like sensible people and sensible human beings have a heart. They understand that your words and what you say really have an impact on that young man’s family. So all the attention should be on this young man and his recovery. For sensible people like us here, to say that it didn’t affect anybody at this network, nobody at this network minded — that’s a lie. Obviously didn’t talk to us. Because it matters to us and it matters to any sensible human being that this young man’s life was bigger than any football game.”

Good for Strahan to call out Bayless, although it might have had even more of an impact (particularly on the Fox Sports bosses) if Strahan called out Bayless by name — assuming that’s who he was talking about.

** Greene talks about QAnon
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill last Wednesday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Polarizing Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene appeared on Sunday’s “MediaBuzz” on Fox News where host Howard Kurtz asked her about past comments that showed her support of QAnon. Greene told Kurtz ([link removed]) , “Well, like a lot of people today, I had easily gotten sucked into some things I had seen on the internet. But that was dealt with quickly, early on. I never campaigned on those things. That was not something I believed in. That’s not what I ran for Congress on. So those are so far in the past.”

Kurtz allowed that answer to stand and didn’t push her further.

As a reminder, before running for Congress, Greene called Q a “patriot” on social media ([link removed]) . She continued to talk about QAnon after becoming a congresswoman. In testimony for the Jan. 6 committee, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson said Greene brought up QAnon several times with then-President Donald Trump and his chief of staff Mark Meadows. Hutchinson testified, “Ms. Greene came up and began talking to us about QAnon and QAnon going to the rally, and she had a lot of constituents that are QAnon, and they'll all be there. And she was showing him pictures of them traveling up to Washington, D.C., for the rally on the 6th.”

Last April, Greene spoke with Real America's Voice’s “Prime Time with Dr. Gina Loudon.” Greene echoed QAnon ([link removed]) by calling Democrats the “Party of Pedophiles” and said, “The Democrats are the party of elementary school teachers trying to transition their elementary school aged children and convince them they are different gender. This is the party of their identity, and their identity is the most disgusting, evil, horrible thing happening in our country.”

Those are just some examples. The Independent’s John Bowden wrote ([link removed]) , “Though there have been too many to mention, a notable example is her past statement suggesting that a California wildfire was started by lasers fired from space by a wealthy family with Jewish heritage, the Rothschilds.”

** Depressing headline of the day

This from The Washington Post: “New variant XBB.1.5 is ‘most transmissible’ yet, could fuel covid wave.” ([link removed])

The Post’s Fenit Nirappil and Lauren Weber wrote, “Three years after the novel coronavirus emerged, a new variant, XBB.1.5, is quickly becoming the dominant strain in parts of the United States because of a potent mix of mutations that makes it easier to spread broadly, including among those who have been previously infected or vaccinated.”

The Post reports there is no evidence that the new variant is more severe than its predecessors. And Vaughn Cooper, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Pittsburgh, told the Post, “XBB did not evolve because people were vaccinated. The way it evolved, let’s be straight, is because people were infected by multiple viruses at the same time.”

In a column for The Post ([link removed]) , Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, wrote, “There’s no sugar-coating it: The world has let its guard down on covid-19. And the virus’s latest dominant form, XBB.1.5, makes clear that we’re doing so just as the virus finds new ways to hurt us.”

Topol added, “The new dominant strain shows that the virus is always evolving to spread more quickly and infect us more efficiently. That should serve as a wake-up call for the country to re-invest in new vaccines, treatments and pandemic monitoring.”

** An essay about her husband … and the world

Dr. Celine Gounder — widow of sportswriter Grant Wahl, who died suddenly while covering last year’s World Cup — wrote a guest essay for The New York Times: “Grant Wahl Was a Loving Husband. I Will Always Protect His Legacy.” ([link removed]) Gounder is an infectious-disease physician and epidemiologist and host of the podcast “Epidemic.” ([link removed])

Gounder recounted first hearing that her husband had died in Qatar and how the news became public. She wrote, “But soon strangers began blaming Grant’s death on COVID-19 vaccines, a playbook I know all too well and a move I refuse to let stand. I knew that disinformation purveyors would blame Grant’s death on COVID vaccines, and I knew what tactics they would use to do so. I also knew that debunking what these people believe head-on in public risks giving them the attention they crave and invites further trolling.”

She added, “This was my Grant, and I needed to know what had happened to him. And I knew I had to share that information publicly: Pairing facts with empathy is the best way to disempower trolls.”

Preliminary results of the autopsy showed Wahl’s aorta, the large blood vessel carrying blood from his heart, had ruptured. Still, Gounder was attacked on social media and in emails, including one she claimed said, “Now you understand that you killed your poor husband. Karma is a bitch.”

I encourage you to read the rest of the powerful essay, where Gounder writes about the tactics and misinformation used by anti-vaxxers. She concludes by writing, “Grant will be remembered for his kindness, openness and generosity. His legacy is his commitment to seeking truth through reporting, supporting human rights and fighting for equality. I will continue to honor Grant by living by our shared values. I’m channeling my grief into something productive: protecting the public’s health against those who would profit from the suffering of others.”

** Remembering a legendary journalist

Bernard Kalb — the longtime journalist and analyst, as well as spokesperson in Ronald Reagan’s White House — died over the weekend at his home in Maryland. He was 100. His brother, journalist Marvin Kalb, reported that Bernard died from complications of a fall.

Kalb is best known for his journalism career covering international affairs at CBS News, NBC News and The New York Times. In 1992, Kalb became the original host and panelist on CNN’s media show “Reliable Sources,” a post he held until 1998.

Bart Barnes wrote in The Washington Post ([link removed]) : “In a career spanning six decades, Mr. Kalb became a high-profile journalist who crossed paths with some of the most intriguing personalities of his generation. When he was a young Army journalist during World War II, his editor was the detective story master Dashiell Hammett — ‘a bayonet of a man,’ Mr. Kalb later recalled, and a ‘giant of an author who took a bunch of semiliterate kids and turned them into amateur newsmen.’”

In 1984, Kalb went from covering the State Department to working for it as a spokesperson. But he resigned after two years to protest what he called “the reported disinformation program conducted by the Reagan Administration against the Libyan leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.”

** Tweet of the day

Horror author (and noted Elon Musk critic) Stephen King on Sunday ([link removed]) : “There are persistent rumors that I have left Twitter. I have not. I may do so eventually, there are many things about the Musk iteration of the site that I don't care for, but that day is not today. You don't fix a thing by leaving it.”

** Media tidbits
* A profile in The New Yorker of New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman and her coverage of Donald Trump. It’s Katy Waldman with “Maggie Haberman: The Confidence Man’s Chronicler.” ([link removed])
* The Associated Press’ Leah Willingham with “West Virginia journalist let go after reporting on abuse allegations.” ([link removed])
* The New York Times’ Natalie Kitroeff with “A Prominent Mexican TV Anchor Departs. Will Dispassionate Coverage Go With Her?” ([link removed])
* The Wall Street Journal’s Dana Mattioli and Miles Kruppa with “Tech Industry Reversal Intensifies With New Rounds of Layoffs.” ([link removed])
* For ProPublica, Sebastian Rotella with “Talking to an Investigative Reporter Who Exposed Chinese Influence in Canada.” ([link removed])
* A quick recommendation: The four-part Netflix documentary about Bernie Madoff — “Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street” — is outstanding and well worth your time.
* Georgia plays TCU tonight for the college football national championship. Is anyone picking TCU in the upset? ESPN will carry the game, including several MegaCasts on the various ESPN channels and platforms.

** Hot type

Prince Harry being interviewed on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” (Courtesy: CBS News)
* Here is Anderson Cooper’s much-anticipated interview with Prince Harry ([link removed]) for “60 Minutes.”
* New York Magazine’s Rachel Handler profiles the actress Allison Williams in “Allison Williams comes alive.” ([link removed])
* Andscape’s Martenzie Johnson with “The racial makeup of the NFL is why the games go on.” ([link removed])

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at .

** More resources for journalists
* Time for a new job ([link removed]) ? Your future employer is looking for you on The Media Job Board — Powered by Poynter, Editor & Publisher and America’s Newspapers. Search now! ([link removed])
* Discover quality online information in a flash. Learn how in MediaWise’s free 7-day mobile course, Find Facts Fast ([link removed]) .
* How to Cover Gun Violence and the Gun Debate in America ([link removed]) (Seminar) — Start anytime ([link removed]) .

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