From Tom Jones | Poynter <[email protected]>
Subject What happened to America’s mayor?
Date January 10, 2023 12:30 PM
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A new documentary suggests Rudy Giuliani was almost Trump before Trump, making enemies with the press and thinking all publicity is good publicity. Email not displaying correctly?
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** What happened to America’s mayor?
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, shown here last month. (AP Photo/Michael Sisak)

On Sunday, CNN aired the first two parts of its series about Rudy Giuliani called “Giuliani: What Happened to America’s Mayor?” ([link removed]) The four-part series concludes next Sunday night.

It’s a fascinating story of Giuliani’s rise to mayor of New York City — cleaning up the city’s reputation of crime but stirring racial divides along the way, seeing that city through the horrors of 9/11 and then eventually becoming a pathetic and almost comical character in Donald Trump’s false claims of a rigged 2020 presidential election.

Based on the first two episodes — which focused on Giuliani’s rise to mayor of the Big Apple — I give it a big thumbs up.

As the documentary suggests, in some ways, Giuliani was Trump before Trump, making enemies with the press and thinking all publicity is good publicity.

In a piece for CNN ([link removed]) , Zachary B. Wolf talked with CNN political analyst John Avlon, who was Giuliani’s chief speechwriter during his second term as mayor.

Avlon told Wolf, “Rudy is the first presidential lawyer whose actions contributed to not one, but two impeachments. That’s a special place in American history. And unfortunately, I think this tragic last chapter in his life will overwhelm the very positive, constructive role he played in different chapters of his life. I don’t think it’ll ultimately eclipse 9/11 and his leadership on that day. But he lit his legacy on fire in service of Donald Trump and got nothing in return except disgrace, ignominy, (possible) disbarment and a gutting of his personal fortune.”

Meanwhile, the documentary’s showrunner, John Marks, writes for CNN ([link removed]) that two films help explain what happened to Giuliani: “The Verdict” and “The Godfather.” Marks’ theories about the movies are spot-on, but a little too complex to sum up in a sentence or two here, so I encourage you to read his piece.

Marks writes, “Giuliani’s story is not a movie, of course. It’s real life, and no life, extraordinary or otherwise, is easy to measure from the outside. We cannot know what lies in his heart. Yet there is a clear chasm between the Giuliani of September 11, 2001, and the man of January 6, 2021. In the winter of 2023, it is hard to see anything like a Hollywood ending, public or private, on the horizon. It is hard to detect in the latest headlines about this lawyer an opening of redemptive light that might pave the way.”

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** 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]) .

** Disappointing news

Last week’s speaker of the House vote drama included some fascinating scenes. For example, there were heated debates among Republicans, including what appeared to be an awkward conversation between Kevin McCarthy and Matt Gaetz. In another strange scene, Gaetz appeared to have a civil conversation with Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And another: Ocasio-Cortez having what appeared to be a pleasant conversation ([link removed]) with Arizona Republican Paul Gosar, who once tweeted an anime video of him killing Ocasio-Cortez.

We couldn’t hear what was being said, but you couldn’t take your eyes off it.

The cameras inside the House chamber are operated by C-SPAN. Normally, however, what the cameras can show is determined by the majority party. But with Republicans unable to immediately elect a speaker and, thus, adopt the rules package, C-SPAN’s camera operators were free to point their cameras wherever they wanted. The Washington Post’s Camila DeChalus wrote last week, “With the House in chaos, C-SPAN shows footage Americans don’t usually see.” ([link removed]) (There are photos and videos of some of the scenes that played out before our eyes.)

Many lawmakers were OK with that. In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Texas Republican Chip Roy said, “What the American people were able to see unfold on the floor was a good thing for our democracy and our republic, right? It was a good thing for people to be able to see the inner workings.”

Well, all good things must come to an end, apparently. The official C-SPAN Twitter account tweeted ([link removed]) on Monday: “NOTE: C-SPAN cameras are no longer in the House chamber. We have resumed using the feed from House/government-operated cameras.”

** Eerily similar
Supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro stand on the roof of the National Congress building after they stormed it, in Brasilia, Brazil, on Sunday. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Terrific work by the visual forensics team at The Washington Post with a headline that absolutely shakes you. It’s Meg Kelly and Imogen Piper with “Videos of Brazil attack show striking similarities to Jan. 6.” ([link removed])

The reason behind the attacks was eerily similar, too. A group of people who refused to believe and accept a fairly held election irresponsibly and dangerously attacked government buildings. Supporters of defeated and former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attacked the three main branches of Brazil’s government on Sunday just as supporters of former and defeated U.S. President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to try to stop the certification of Joe Biden as president.

The Post wrote, “While Trump and Bolsonaro are often compared for their rhetoric and political stances, a Washington Post comparison of more than 50 videos of the attack in Brazil to our archive of Jan. 6 videos reveals moments where the two mobs also take strikingly similar actions. Rioters draped in Brazil’s national colors and waving the Brazilian flag left a trail of shattered glass, ransacked offices and splintered furniture behind them. They documented and published key moments of Sunday’s assault on social media — from breaking past police barricades and fights with police to vandalizing government buildings and stealing property.”

The violent videos are startling and yet another reminder of just how awful and frightening the Jan. 6 attacks were.

** Reptiles and invertebrates

Who said this?

“A few honorable exceptions aside, the G.O.P. is basically split between reptiles and invertebrates. McCarthy is the ultimate invertebrate. He went to Mar-a-Lago just a short while after Jan. 6 to kiss the ring of the guy who incited the mob that, by McCarthy’s own admission, wanted to kill him. He hated Liz Cheney because of her backbone. But he quailed before Marjorie Taylor Greene because she has a forked tongue. He gave away the powers and prerogatives of the office of speaker in order to gain the office, which is like a slug abandoning its shell and thinking it won’t be stepped on. A better man would have told the Freedom Caucus holdouts to shove it. Instead, as a friend of mine put it, McCarthy decided to become the squeaker of the House.”

Somewhat surprisingly, it was New York Times opinion columnist (and conservative) Bret Stephens, in his “Conversation” opinion piece ([link removed]) with Times columnist Gail Collins.

** Dr. Dre isn’t having it

Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene posted a tweet on Monday that said, “It’s time to begin.. and they can’t stop what’s coming.” It then had a video of her celebrating helping Kevin McCarthy take over as speaker of the House. It included Dr. Dre’s song “Still D.R.E.”

The video didn’t stay up long. Dr. Dre told TMZ, “I don’t license my music to politicians, especially someone as divisive and hateful as this one.”

The cease-and-desist letter from Dr. Dre’s lawyers to Greene was, as journalist Jeff Pearlman described it on Twitter ([link removed]) , “absolute fire.” It included this line: “One might expect that, as a member of Congress, you would have a passing familiarity with the laws of our country. It's possible, though, that laws governing intellectual property are a little too arcane and insufficiently populist for you to really have spent much time on. We're writing because we think an actual lawmaker should be making laws not breaking laws.”

Later, Greene tried to clap back at Dr. Dre on Twitter, but the whole thing, including the original video, was perfectly described by many on Twitter as “cringe.”

** Must-see TV
Television camera operators sit on elevated platforms during an NFL football game between the Detroit Lions and the New England Patriots last October. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Last week, the entire nation was gripped by the news that Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field and needed CPR to stay alive. Fortunately, it appears as if Hamlin is on his way to recovery, but the scary incident reminded us all of something we already knew: Football can be a dangerous sport. Yet, even with that knowledge, Americans still swarm to their TVs to watch it. Not only is it America's most popular sport, but also America’s most popular TV programming. Sports Business Journal’s Austin Karp reports ([link removed]) that sports accounted for 94 of the 100 most-watched telecasts in 2022. And of those 94 sporting events, the NFL accounted for 82 of those games. College football accounted for five more.

Last February’s Super Bowl LVI between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals was the most-watched telecast in 2022 with 110.4 million viewers. The most-watched non-NFL game was Joe Biden’s state of the union address, which came in at No. 9 with 34.6 million viewers.

Other non-football sporting events to crack the top 100 include the Tokyo Olympics, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the Kentucky Derby, soccer’s World Cup and the NBA Finals. Other non-sports in the top 100 telecasts included two telecasts of the House select committee’s hearings on Jan. 6, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Academy Awards show. Check out Karp’s story for more details.

** Tuning in

While we’re talking about TV ratings, it should be noted that Kevin McCarthy’s late-night election to speaker of the House last Friday turned out to be a boost for cable TV networks. At 11 p.m. Eastern last Friday, Fox News had an impressive 3.42 million viewers. That was tops among cable news networks.

But CNN and MSNBC had solid numbers, too. MSNBC averaged 2.49 million viewers in the 11 p.m. hour and CNN drew 2.09 million. CNN did well in the key 25-54 age demographic 575,000 viewers at 11 p.m. Fox News had 523,000 and MSNBC had 388,000.

** Media tidbits
* Are you a fan of the word game Wordle? The “Today” show had an interview with Tracy Bennett ([link removed]) , the New York Times’ first editor for the game. She talks about the game’s popularity and how she picks out the daily words.
* Axios’ Sara Fischer with “The Intercept spinning off as an independent nonprofit.” ([link removed])
* Speaking of Axios: “Axios Launches Centralized News Hub.” ([link removed]) The point is to bridge Axios’ national and local coverage. In a press release, Axios writes, “Hub reporters will also produce data-driven coverage, special weekend reports and city guides for Axios Local newsletters, breaking down how national trends impact readers’ communities, and the latest updates in key areas like entertainment, real estate and sports.” Holly Moore, previously USA Today’s senior director of audience, planning and operations, will serve as the hub’s managing editor.
* Mediaite’s Aidan McLaughlin with “Maria Bartiromo Is Still Doing the Kind of Journalism That Got Fox News Sued For Billions.” ([link removed])

** Hot type
* The New York Times’ Julia Moskin with “Noma, Rated the World’s Best Restaurant, Is Closing Its Doors.” ([link removed])
* For The Atlantic, Nate Jackson with “I Saw Horrific Things When I Played in the NFL.” ([link removed])
* Analysis from The Washington Post’s Andrew Van Dam: “The happiest, least stressful, most meaningful jobs in America.” ([link removed])

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

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* How to Improve Your Coverage of LGBTQ+ Communities ([link removed]) (Webinar) — Start anytime ([link removed]) .
* Lead With Influence ([link removed]) (Feb. 2023) (Seminar) — Register Now ([link removed]) . Training dates are also available in July ([link removed]) and Nov ([link removed]) .

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