From Tom Jones | Poynter <[email protected]>
Subject Trump’s latest lawsuit involves a journalism icon
Date February 1, 2023 12:30 PM
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The former president is suing Bob Woodward over ‘The Trump Tapes,’ an audiobook featuring 8 hours of conversations from 20 interviews. Email not displaying correctly?
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** Trump’s latest lawsuit involves a journalism icon
Former President Donald Trump, shown here last week. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

There might not have been a more revealing and revolutionary book about Donald Trump’s years as president than Bob Woodward’s “The Trump Tapes.”

“The Trump Tapes” is an audiobook featuring eight hours of conversations from 20 interviews Woodward did with Trump for “Rage,” one of the three books he wrote about the former president. As Woodward wrote at the time ([link removed]) , “In more than 50 years of reporting, I have never disclosed the raw interviews or full transcripts of my work. But after listening again to the 20 interviews I conducted with President Donald Trump during his last year as chief executive, I have decided to take the unusual step of releasing them. I was struck by how Trump pounded in my ears in a way the printed page cannot capture.”

But now, more than three months after “The Trump Tapes” were released, Trump is suing Woodward.

Trump suing someone? Shocking!

In a lawsuit filed Monday in the Northern District of Florida, Trump’s lawyers claim, “President Trump told Woodward numerous times that the Interviews were to be used by Woodward — and Woodward only — for the sole purpose of accurately quoting President Trump for the ‘written word,’ i.e., ‘Rage,’ and not for any other purpose, including providing, marketing, or selling the Interviews to the public, press, or the media, in any way, shape, or form.”

Trump is also suing publisher Simon & Schuster and parent company Paramount, and wants nearly $50 million in damages. Trump’s reps go on to say that Woodward, “decided to exploit, usurp, and capitalize upon President Trump’s voice by releasing the interview sound recordings of their interviews,” because “President Trump’s voice is one of the most recognizable voices in the world.”

In a joint statement Tuesday, Woodward and Simon & Schuster said, “Former President Trump’s lawsuit is without merit and we will aggressively defend against it. All these interviews were on the record and recorded with President Trump’s knowledge and agreement. Moreover, it is in the public interest to have this historical record in Trump’s own words. We are confident that the facts and the law are in our favor.”

It’s hard to imagine Trump, who agreed to the on-the-record interviews, has a case here.

Back in October, Trump complained on his Truth Social network ([link removed]) that he was upset with Woodward releasing the tapes. He wrote, “As he fully understands, writer Bob Woodward never got my permission to release tapes of my various interviews with him. Those tapes were allowed only for purposes of making sure that he got my quotes & statements correct for ‘the WRITTEN WORD,’ in other words, for his, nevertheless, highly inaccurate book. The tapes are much better than the book, at least if they were not bludgeoned to death by him to make me look as bad as possible, but he & his publisher had no right to use my ‘VOICE’ or them!”

So, wait. He actually said the “tapes are much better than the book, at least if they were not bludgeoned to death by him to make me look as bad as possible.”

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** Speaking of Trump …

Maggie Haberman’s latest New York Times piece: “Trump’s Well-Worn Legal Playbook Starts to Look Frayed.” ([link removed])

This story is as much about Trump being on the receiving end of legal suits as much as suing others. These days, Trump is under investigation by the Justice Department for his handling of classified documents and efforts to overturn the 2020 election. He also might face indictment in Fulton County, Georgia, for actions also having to do with trying to stay in power after losing the 2020 election.

Haberman writes, “For all that he remains popular with many Republican voters, Mr. Trump, according to people who have spoken with him, is concerned about facing a criminal charge, something he has worked to avoid since the late 1970s. And he remains dedicated to the techniques for dealing with such threats — tactics he learned from his former lawyer Roy M. Cohn, who favored attacking the legal system while trying to work insider connections.”

Alan Marcus, a consultant who worked for the Trump Organization in the 1990s, told Haberman, “Trump views the judicial system as he sees everything else: corrupt, ‘fixable’ and usable as a bullying tactic.”

** Big shakeup

Madeline McIntosh is stepping down as chief executive of Penguin Random House U.S. As head of the country’s largest consumer book publisher, McIntosh is one of the most powerful people in book publishing.

The New York Times’ Elizabeth A. Harris and Alexandra Alter wrote ([link removed]) , “The announcement comes during a time of great turbulence for Penguin Random House, by far the country’s largest book publisher. Markus Dohle, who was the chief executive of Penguin Random House, and McIntosh’s boss, resigned from his position in December. The company also lost a bid last year to buy Simon & Schuster, a large rival publishing house, after the government successfully sued to stop the deal on antitrust grounds. The deal’s collapse cost Penguin Random House a $200 million termination fee, in addition to enormous legal costs. Dohle had overseen the attempted acquisition.”

McIntosh has been with the publishing house for most of the past 30 years and took over Penguin Random House U.S. in 2018.

The Wall Street Journal’s Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, who broke the news ([link removed]) , reported, “McIntosh will remain in place until Nihar Malaviya, interim CEO of Bertelsmann SE’s Penguin Random House, establishes a new corporate leadership structure.”

McIntosh, 53, told Trachtenberg, “I’ve been in this job longer than any single job since college. I’ve packed in a lot, and it’s the right time for me and for the company to have a change. I’m eager to learn new things and challenge myself in different ways.”

The Times wrote, “In an industry that has a reputation for being old-fashioned and relationship-driven, McIntosh was known for being more detached, analytical and data driven.”

But, the Times added, “Her tenure was not always smooth: McIntosh oversaw some unpopular changes, including merging publishing divisions and closing imprints, driving out some influential editors who were known as tastemakers. Among them were Molly Stern, as well as Julie Grau and Cindy Spiegel, who started their own independent publishing companies, becoming competitors of Penguin Random House.”

McIntosh has not said publicly what she will do next.

** A very special TV episode
Actor Nick Offerman, one of the stars of episode three of HBO’s “The Last of Us.” (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

I mentioned this briefly in Monday’s newsletter, but once again, Sunday night’s episode three of HBO’s “The Last of Us” was superb television. The series is based on the video game about a post-apocalyptic world following a global pandemic. But this is not just another series about survivors trying to avoid flesh-starved infected people. There’s a humanity about it that was on full display in episode three.

“The Last of Us” showrunners Neil Druckmann, who created the PlayStation game, and Craig Mazin talked with The Hollywood Reporter’s James Hibberd for “‘The Last of Us’ Creators Explain Episode 3’s Heartbreak Twists, Changes From Game.” ([link removed]) Warning: the story is full of spoilers, so don’t read it if you haven’t seen (and are interested in seeing) the series.

** For the love of the game

No surprise, last Sunday’s NFL conference championship games drew huge TV audiences.

The Kansas City Chiefs-Cincinnati Bengals AFC Championship on CBS averaged 53.12 million viewers. That made it the most-watched TV broadcast since last year’s Super Bowl. At one point 59.37 million viewers were watching.

The NFC Championship between the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers on Fox averaged 47.5 million viewers despite the game not being competitive at all. The Eagles easily won, 31-7, as the 49ers played much of the second half without a healthy quarterback who could throw the football. Still, the game peaked with 52.3 million viewers.

The audiences for both games, again, show how massively popular the NFL is in this country.

** Media tidbits
Serena Williams, left, being interviewed by CBS News’ Gayle King. (Courtesy: CBS News)
* Retired tennis great Serena Williams talks about life after tennis in an interview with Gayle King that will air on this morning’s “CBS Mornings.” Here’s ([link removed]) a preview.
* NBC’s “Dateline” just had its best month ever across digital platforms with nearly 60 million video views, more than double its performance in January 2022.
* Greg Burns of Northwestern University’s Medill Local News Initiative with “Why Ralph Nader is launching a print newspaper.” ([link removed])
* The latest from columnist Margaret Sullivan in the Guardian US: “The media is blowing Biden’s documents ‘scandal’ out of proportion.” ([link removed]) Sullivan wrote, “… all this coverage seems to say, a chance to get back to the false equivalence that makes us what we truly are! And make no mistake, any effort to equate Biden’s sloppy mishandling with former president Trump’s removal of hundreds of classified documents to his Florida hangout at Mar-a-Lago is simply wrong.”
* Also in The Guardian, Martin Pengelly with “Paul Pelosi attack: rightwing pundits backtrack after release of police video.” ([link removed])
* The Daily Beast’s Corbin Bolies with “Inside the Collapse of Insider’s Much-Hyped D.C. Team.” ([link removed])
* The New York Times’ Nicole Sperling with “Actress’s Path to Surprise Oscar Nomination Is Scrutinized.” ([link removed])

** Hot type
* The Washington Post’s Carolyn Y. Johnson with “I wrote about high-priced drugs for years. Then my toddler needed one.” ([link removed])
* The Atlantic’s Marina Koren with “The Existential Wonder of Space.” ([link removed])
* Back in 2019, The Athletic’s Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal broke the story of the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal ([link removed]) . On Tuesday, The Athletic ran an excerpt ([link removed]) from Drellich’s new book: “Winning Fixes Everything: How Baseball’s Brightest Minds Created Sports’ Biggest Mess.”

** More resources for journalists
* Subscribe to PolitiFact’s weekly newsletter ([link removed]) . Get facts delivered straight to your inbox.
* How to Cover Gun Violence and the Gun Debate in America ([link removed]) (Seminar) — Start anytime ([link removed]) .
* Lead With Influence ([link removed]) (Feb. 2023) (Seminar) — Register by Jan 30 ([link removed]) .
* Poynter’s Beat Academy ([link removed]) (March-Oct.) (Webinar series) — Enroll now ([link removed]) .

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) .
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