GBH News’ just-announced political show conjures up ties with The Boston Phoenix

As an alumnus of “Beat the Press,” which was canceled over the summer, I’ve been curious about what GBH-TV (Channel 2) would do about filling the Friday 7 p.m. time slot.

The station ran a local politics show during the fall that was supposed to end on Election Day but was instead extended through the rest of the year. Now it looks like that show is being made permanent, with a new name — “Talking Politics.” The show will be focused on the suddenly hot Massachusetts gubernatorial race.

Although I don’t know whether it’s deliberate (I suspect it was), the name conjures up the connections between GBH News and the late, great Boston Phoenix. The host, Adam Reilly, used to be the Phoenix’s “Talking Politics” columnist. GBH News senior editor Peter Kadzis, who’ll be part of the new show, was the editor of the Phoenix for many years.

Other Phoenix alums associated with GBH News include former “Talking Politics” columnists Jon Keller and David Bernstein as well as civil-liberties columnist Harvey Silverglate. And, of course, yours truly. Might we consider renaming my GBH media column “Don’t Quote Me”?

The full press release follows.

BOSTON (December 2, 2021) – GBH News today announced the launch of Talking Politics, a new weekly show that will take a deep dive into local politics, with a special focus on the 2022 Massachusetts gubernatorial race. Hosted by GBH News politics reporter Adam Reilly, the panel-based series will feature conversations with local political newsmakers, influencers, analysts and activists. GBH News City Hall reporter Saraya Wintersmith, Statehouse Bureau reporter Mike Deehan and politics editor Peter Kadzis will also be key contributors. Talking Politics debuts on Friday, December 3 at 7:00 p.m. on GBH 2 and streaming on the GBH News YouTube Channel.

“Audiences throughout Massachusetts know that the issues being debated on Beacon Hill have the potential to directly impact their lives. And it’s not just the issues, but the individuals who are shaping these discussions,” said Pam Johnston, general manager of news at GBH. “With this week’s announcement from Governor Baker that he will not seek reelection, the race to lead Massachusetts is wide open. Talking Politics will bring audiences compelling conversations and deeply reported local journalism about political issues across the Commonwealth with the 2022 gubernatorial race at center stage.”

Talking Politics builds on the foundation created by Boston’s Race Into History, the pop-up television show integral to GBH News’ multi-platform initiative focused on the 2021 Boston Mayoral Race. In each week’s half-hour episode, Talking Politics will take a broader look at state and local politics and their impact on the issues that matter. The series will investigate a wide range of political developments across the Commonwealth including the unfolding gubernatorial race, the new leadership in place in key Massachusetts cities, and the administration of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.

The debut episode will look at Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to not seek reelection in 2022 after leading the Commonwealth for two terms. Host Adam Reilly and guests will also provide an update into the campaigns of the race’s declared candidates, Republican Geoff Diehl, and Democrats Danielle Allen, Ben Downing, and Sonia Chang-Díaz.

Audiences can stay up-to-date with local political coverage by subscribing to the GBH News politics newsletter. GBH News has been expanding its political coverage over the past year including a multi-platform journalism initiative focused on Boston’s mayoral race and regular appearances by elected officials on Boston Public Radio.

 

CNN needs to punish Chris Cuomo severely — and to consider firing him

Chris Cuomo

I’ve been defending CNN’s Chris Cuomo ever since we learned that he had been advising his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, about how to respond to allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

It’s not that I like his program especially; I don’t. It’s that the misguided decision to let Chris host Andrew during the early days of the COVID pandemic was more a failing by management than it was something that could be blamed on Chris, and that it wasn’t fair to criticize him for acting like a brother.

No more. Monday’s revelations show that Chris Cuomo went beyond giving his brother advice, and even went beyond strategizing with other members of Andrew Cuomo’s team. According to the newly released documents, Chris Cuomo abused his position at CNN, and for that he needs to pay a steep price — maybe a long suspension, maybe termination.

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“How in the world does Chris Cuomo survive this?” asks Tom Jones of Poynter, taking note of the sordid details:

According to documents released Monday by the New York attorney general’s office, Chris used his media sources to seek out information about women who accused his brother of sexual misconduct. He then relayed some of that information to his brother’s top advisers.

Writing in The Atlantic, David A. Graham — who believes that Chris Cuomo should resign or be fired — offered this:

When Chris Cuomo simply offered advice to staff members, he failed to observe the rules CNN had set for his private behavior. But by gathering information from “sources” and passing it to his brother’s staff, Cuomo committed the more egregious step of directly mixing the journalistic work of calling sources and gathering information with his personal, familial commitments. He was wise not to go further into the realm of “oppo research” [something Chris told investigators he did not do], but he still went far beyond the bounds of propriety.

Chris Cuomo hosts an opinionated talk show that is only peripherally tied to journalism. But as Graham notes, he does, in fact, act as a journalist, and people are going to return his calls when he tells them that he’s working on a story. His behavior violated multiple rules of “The Elements of Journalism,” including reporting the truth, maintaining independence from those we cover and serving as an independent monitor of power.

I tuned in Cuomo’s show Monday at 9 p.m. to see whether he’d be on and if he’d address it. There he was, but he made no mention of the revelations — not at the beginning, not at the end.

I’ll give him this much — he seemed every bit his normal self, even though he had to know his career was hanging in the balance.

CNN seems to be taking the new allegations seriously. “The thousands of pages of additional transcripts and exhibits that were released today by the NY Attorney General deserve a thorough review and consideration,” CNN said in a statement. “We will be having conversations and seeking additional clarity about their significance as they relate to CNN over the next several days.”

The next step is to act. I doubt that we’ll see Chris Cuomo in the anchor chair tonight. The question is whether we’ll ever see him there again — or should.

Don’t cross the picket line

I love Wirecutter. You love Wirecutter. But don’t use it — don’t even visit the website — until next Tuesday. The site’s workers are taking part in a Black Friday weekend strike, lasting through Cyber Monday, to protest two years of failed contract negotiations with the New York Times Co.

In a recent article for Digiday, Sara Guaglione offered some background on the job action, including the NewsGuild’s claim that Wirecutter staff members are paid $43,000 less than their counterparts at The New York Times.

The Times Co. is profitable and growing. It can afford to share some of that prosperity with its employees. And good for the union for hitting management where it hurts — the busiest shopping days of the year.

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It’s too simple to say the ‘mainstream media’ got it wrong on the Steele dossier

Russia ties? What Russia ties?

This is ostensibly a column about the Steele dossier. But it’s really a column about the media — or, rather, what we mean when we talk about “the media.”

You remember the Steele dossier, right? Just before Donald Trump’s inauguration as president in 2017, we learned that intelligence officials had briefed both Trump and outgoing President Barack Obama about a report that contained some lurid accusations. The most famous: that there was a video of Trump consorting with prostitutes in a Russian hotel room, which became known far and wide as “the pee tape.”

Read the rest at GBH News.

What might John Henry’s track record mean for the Pittsburgh Penguins?

You may have heard that John Henry and his Fenway Sports Group are looking to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL. I spoke with Christopher Ayers of WESA Radio in Pittsburgh what Henry’s leadership style at the Red Sox and The Boston Globe might mean for the Penguins.

Dan Lothian named as executive producer of ‘The World’

Dan Lothian

My Northeastern University colleague (and former “Beat the Press” co-panelist) Dan Lothian has been named executive producer of “The World” after serving in an interim position since last March. Lothian has a long and distinguished broadcast career, including a stint as CNN’s White House correspondent. “The World” is a collabortion between GBH and PRX. Congratulations, Dan!

GBH News names new morning anchor team

Paris Alston

Big announcement from GBH News: A replacement has been named for morning radio anchor Joe Mathieu, who left to take a job in Washington with Bloomberg earlier this year. And Mathieu’s replacement will be a team. The new co-anchors are Paris Alston, who’s currently across town at WBUR Radio, and Jeremy Siegel, who hosts a podcast for Politico.

I don’t know Siegel, but I do know Alston, who helped edit my column during an earlier stint at GBH. I enjoyed working with her, and I’m glad she’s coming back. According to the press release, “The duo will step into the role of co-hosts in early 2022, after spending time with local news audiences all across Massachusetts, listening and learning about the issues people care about most.”

Congratulations to both. The full announcement follows.

Signaling a new era for its popular local morning program, GBH has named Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel as the new co-hosts of Morning Edition at GBH News. The two journalists will bring a fresh and contemporary energy to the show, reinventing GBH’s morning news experience while welcoming new voices and perspectives into a daily multiplatform news conversation.

Alston will rejoin GBH from WBUR, where she is a host of the NPR podcast  Consider This, produced in conjunction with GBH. Siegel is currently the host and producer of the Washington, DC-based daily news podcast POLITICO Dispatch.

Jeremy Siegel

“Our audiences have told us that mornings matter most when it comes to news. They look to us to get the information they need and set the tone for the day ahead,” said Pam Johnston, General Manager of News at GBH. “With Paris and Jeremy as co-hosts of Morning Edition  at GBH News, our audiences will get local stories from different perspectives. They’ll engage with a pair of dynamic, smart and accomplished journalists who possess a real knack for understanding and dissecting the complex stories of our time.”

The duo will step into the role of co-hosts in early 2022, after spending time with local news audiences all across Massachusetts, listening and learning about the issues people care about most.

NPR’s Morning Edition is the most listened-to radio program in the country, delivering in-depth reporting about stories that break overnight and set the agenda for the day. As the local hosts of this national broadcast, Alston and Siegel will bring audiences into the center of these stories by adding local context and depth. Morning Edition airs on weekdays from 5 am – 10 am on 89.7 FM. The show also can be streamed online at gbhnews.org and via smart speakers globally.

Alston held several roles at GBH earlier in her career, most recently as host of GBH’s digital series Keep it Social. Prior to that, she worked at UNC-TV in North Carolina and NBC10-Philadelphia. Before his time at POLITICO Dispatch, Siegel was an anchor and award-winning reporter at KQED Public Radio in San Francisco.

The co-hosts join a dedicated morning news team that is led by Morning Edition producer Karen Marshall.

Recriminations begin in school’s decision to uninvite Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones. Photo (cc) 2018 by Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo.

That didn’t take long. The head of the elite Middlesex School in Concord has taken what is being described as a “leave of absence” just a little more than a week after reports that the school had rescinded a speaking invitation to Nikole Hannah-Jones, the New York Times journalist and Howard University professor who created The 1619 Project.

The Boston Globe’s Amanda Kaufman writes that the high-priced prep school is launching an “independent review,” according to a letter to parents from the board of trustees. Noah Kirsch has a good overview of the past week’s contretemps at The Daily Beast.

The Middlesex meltdown came after Hannah-Jones made public that her invitation to speak during Black History Month had been withdrawn. David Beare, the head of school, told the Globe that he and other school officials “were concerned that individuals from outside our community might inadvertently distract from the insights and perspective that she intended to share.”

From the moment Beare made his ill-advised announcement, it was obvious that this would end badly for him. The faculty signed a letter of protest and the trustees objected, including Hannah-Jones’ Times colleague Bret Stephens, a critic of The 1619 Project.

We still don’t know how the decision to uninvite Hannah-Jones came about, and I hope the Globe and others will keep digging.

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The New Yorker examines the controversial career of the L.A. Times’ celebrity owner

Patrick Soon-Shiong. Photo (cc) 2018 by Steve Devol.

The New Yorker has published a long profile of Patrick Soon-Shiong, the celebrity surgeon who moonlights as the problematic owner of the Los Angeles Times. Most of Stephen DeWitt’s article focuses on how Soon-Shiong became a billionaire — which appears to be based on a combination of brilliance and shady business practices. DeWitt writes:

Few figures in modern medicine have inspired as much controversy as Soon-Shiong. “He gets very enthusiastic, and sometimes he might exaggerate,” Hentz said. “He can embellish a little.” [Kate Hentz is the daughter of Lee Iacocca, whose first wife died of Type 1 diabetes and who was an important backer of Soon-Shiong’s work.] Outcomes for his diabetes treatment were disappointing, and one case ended tragically. While pursuing this therapy, he also began researching chemotherapy. At the center of his fortune is a cancer treatment that costs more than a hundred times as much as another drug, available as a generic, that is prescribed for some of the same conditions. Soon-Shiong has been repeatedly accused of financial misrepresentation, self-dealing, price gouging, and fraud. He has been sued by former investors and business partners; he has been sued by other doctors; he has been sued by his own brother, twice; he has been sued by Cher.

There’s a little bit on Soon-Shiong’s ownership of the Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune. I love this quote from Norman Pearlstine, the editor Soon-Shiong brought on board to right the ship after years of bad ownership: “He made the acquisition with very little due diligence, because he thought that it had to be easier than curing cancer. I’m not sure whether he still believes that.”

To Soon-Shiong’s credit, he has made some investments in his papers, although his interest seems to have wavered from time to time. His choice of Kevin Merida, late of ESPN and The Washington Post, as Pearlstine’s successor was a good one. Soon-Shiong also enabled Alden Global Capital to acquire Tribune Publishing earlier this year, which is unforgivable. But he saved the L.A. Times — at least for now — and that’s an important legacy.

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Are newspaper endorsements fading away?

Following The Boston Globe’s odd decision to run its Michelle Wu endorsement in the Saturday print edition rather than in the big Sunday paper, I discussed newspaper endorsements with Michael Jonas of CommonWealth magazine. Are they fading away? Are they still relevant? When and why do they matter?