Friday, October 21, 2016

The Trump Who Cried Wolf?—third debate, second highest ratings—newspapers’ cruel summer fades to gloomy fall

The Trump Who Cried Wolf?—third debate, second highest ratings—newspapers’ cruel summer fades to gloomy fall  by By Joe Pompeo | (n Republished with permission of the author and Politico in which the articles appeared)

TRUMP TALK WITH THE RIVERSIDE DRIVE SET -- Take it away, Sir Harry Evans: "Where were all the investigative reporters? The press in the United States was very slow to get onto Trump. ... The Times finally got going and did some great stuff [but] by and large, I'm disappointed, because I thought the investigative journalism would have started much earlier." The British journalism titan (and husband of Tina Brown) was in the Upper West Side living room of Steve Coll and Eliza Griswold last night, gabbing about 2016's once-in-a-lifetime campaign coverage with a few dozen establishment media types convened by Kyle Pope, the new editor in chief of Columbia Journalism Review, which hosted the gathering.

Veteran political strategist Howard Wolfson tossed out an alternate observation. The fact-checking of political advertisements now has a sort of "nostalgic quaintness" to it, he said. "I don't know when people in your business decided this wasn't a useful function," Wolfson continued, but back in the day, "it kept us to a certain degree of honesty that, if you're coming up in the political business now, you don't have to think about."

Maybe journalists haven't had time to fact-check ads because they've been so busy fact-checking everything that comes out of Donald Trump's mouth? New York Times political editor Carolyn Ryan pointed out that no fewer than 19 of her reporters were on fact-checking duty during Wednesday night's debate. Web traffic numbers show that fact-checking pieces have become more popular than the traditional debate stories, she said. As to Evans' criticism about the press corps being asleep at the wheel during the early days of Trump's astonishing rise, Ryan countered that there was some Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf at play. "I think a lot of us were initially quite skeptical of how far this would go," she said.

Also in the room (in no particular order and with apologies to anyone we've left out): Victor Navasky, Alice Rogoff, James Bennet, Joanne Lipman, Steve Adler, Kate Kelly, Jesse Eisinger, Sheelah Kolhatkar, Jim Schachter, Rebecca Blumenstein and Will Oremus. There was wine and lasagna and biscotti for all, and a transcript of the evening's (explicitly) on-the-record dinner conversation will be posted on CJR's website.

THIRD DEBATE DREW 71.6M VIEWERS -- In other words, according to the Nielsen figures, more than the second (66.5 million), fewer than the record-breaking first (84 million), but still the third most-watched debate in history (behind Carter-Reagan's 80.6m on October 28, 1980). The broadcast breakdown went like this: ABC - 10.96m; NBC - 10.39m; CBS - 10.12m. The big three of cable news: FNC - 11.35m; CNN - 8.71m; MSNBC - 5.52m. On social media, according to Nielsen, "[activity] peaked ... when 4.6 million interactions occurred as the candidates discussed their fitness to be president, if they would accept the outcome of the election, and foreign hotspots." CNN called the debate infavour of Clinton 52 to 39% within 15 minutes of it ending.

FACEBOOK LOGS 3.3 *BILLION* VIEWS FOR DEBATE-RELATED VIDEO: Hadas Gold got some fun data from the social media site: "Donald Trump had one of the most watched debate-related videos with more than 29 million views, posted during the second of the three presidential debates. It's of the moment Trump responded to Hillary Clinton's quip that 'it's just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country' by saying 'because you'd be in jail.' One of Clinton's most watched videos in that time period was about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, posted after the first debate. That got more than 19 million views." But the biggest draw of all was a video of people punching their screens as Trump spoke during the first debate.

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