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EXEC SUMMARY: Monday is the three-year anniversary of President Trump's inauguration. Scroll down for our week ahead calendar, SAG Award winners, the NYT's double endorsement, and much more...


Calling for local ownership

Remember when the Denver Post newspaper rebelled against its hedge fund owners by publishing editorials and columns deriding the owners and calling for a shift to local ownership?

Something similar is happening again, this time in Chicago, amid deepening concerns about Alden Global Capital's plans for the Chicago Tribune and other Tribune Publishing papers. "Anxiety is picking up at TribPub papers about secretive investor who wants control of whole company -- and has record of slashing cuts," NPR's David Folkenflik tweeted Sunday.

Two of the Chicago Tribune's top reporters, David Jackson and Gary Marx, have penned a brand new op-ed warning about the pernicious influence of Alden. "Unless Alden reverses course — perhaps in repentance for the avaricious destruction it has wrought in Denver and elsewhere — we need a civic-minded local owner or group of owners. So do our Tribune Publishing colleagues," the two men wrote.

It's another call for local ownership -- but this time it's been published in The New York Times, not in the paper where the reporters work. Jackson told me that "Trib editors strongly warned against publishing" it...

So the op-ed ran on Sunday, and will appear in print in the coming days. If the Tribune becomes a shell of its former self, they wrote, "Illinois’s most vulnerable people would lose a powerful guardian, its corrupt politicians would be freer to exploit and plunder, and this prairie metropolis would lose the common forum that binds together and lifts its citizens." Read on...

 >> A similar move is afoot at Tribune's paper in Baltimore: "An effort is underway by some journalists at The Baltimore Sun to find new, local ownership for the 183-year-old newspaper," the Baltimore Business Journal reported earlier this month...

 >> The uncomfortable truth: Despite those Denver Post protests in 2018, Alden still controls the paper. Some of the paper's writers and editors left and launched a digital news outlet...

The view from Orlando 

Read this column by the Tribune-owned Orlando Sentinel's Scott Maxwell, with contributions from several colleagues. It's about the pain of buyouts – being offered $$$ to leave your newspaper home over and over – but choosing to stay because you love the community you cover.

"Those who stay do so because we believe in what we do," Maxwell wrote. "We're not martyrs. We just really like journalism. And we fear for what our community would be without a vibrant daily newspaper. So I’ve made peace with my decision. I know that most any day here could be my last. I also know it's a gift to do what you love for a living."


"May the best woman win"

The NYT editorial board's transparent process for the Dem primary was praised by some and pilloried by others. It succeeded in getting attention, that's for sure. Politics and media types turned on FX at 10pm ET for a special episode of "The Weekly" that ended with the NYT's split decision. And here it is: "In a break with convention, the editorial board has chosen to endorse two separate Democratic candidates for president."

Both Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren received the editorial board's endorsement. "May the best woman win," the editorial in Monday's paper says... 

Reality check...

Via CNN's Jeff Zeleny, a Times alum: "I can't think of a single voter out of the hundreds (and hundreds) I've talked to this year who are likely to be persuaded by a NYT endorsement. Local papers possibly -- just possibly -- but not the national editorial page of the Times...

Favreau and Hamby

These two segments on Sunday's "Reliable Sources" picked up a lot of social media attention... Which is a little bit ironic because one of the points was about how social media distorts news coverage. I talked with Jon Favreau and Peter Hamby about the "Twitter primary" problem and the importance of "low-information voters." That term is not pejorative, Hamby said, it's merely a reflection of the fact that "most people don't actually care about politics." And reporters need to remember that at all times, he said.

"What everyone spends all day on Twitter and on cable talking about in these races, in politics, just is so divorced from the realities of peoples' lives," Favreau added. "The more they see this silliness... the more disengaged they get from politics." Watch part one and part two on


 -- NOTE: No newsletter on Monday, in anticipation of a relatively quiet holiday... We will be back on Tuesday...

 -- The Chiefs and the 49ers are heading to the Super Bowl... The Chiefs are slight favorites... (ESPN)

 -- Some Super Bowl advertisers are concerned that Trump and Michael Bloomberg's big game ads "could steal their thunder," NBC's Claire Atkinson reports. The apparent solution: 'Fox has told marketers that it will put the political ads in their own commercial pods so as not to detract from other commercials..." (NBC)

 -- Craig Melvin sat down with Bloomberg over the weekend... Portions of the interview will air on Monday's "Today" show...

Week ahead calendar

Monday: Vice will stream the 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Democratic Presidential Forum...

Monday: Fox's Ed Henry starts co-anchoring "America's Newsroom" while Bill Hemmer moves to 3pm... 

Tuesday 1pm ET: The Senate impeachment trial reconvenes...

Tuesday: World Economic Forum 2020 begins in Davos... Trump will watch the trial from there...

Wednesday: Opening statements in the Weinstein trial...

Thursday: The Sundance Film Festival begins...

Saturday: NHL All-Star Weekend...

Sunday: The Grammy Awards on CBS...

What happens...

What happens when a president can't handle the truth? When he chooses to believe right-wing conspiracy theories? When he misleads the public at a rate of nine times per day? What happens is... an impeachment trial.

That's what I said at the start of Sunday's "Reliable Sources" telecast. But my main point was about what newsrooms need to provide the public now that the trial is getting underway. Journalists should get back to basics -- start from the beginning -- and tell the story in-depth for an audience that might just now be tuning in...

Trump's Fox defense team

Former prosecutor Robert Ray thanked Maria Bartiromo on Sunday, saying "if not for you, I don't know that I would have come to the president's attention." Jonathan Swan of Axios says Ray was right to credit her.

Ray is one example of Trump's Fox defense team -- taking frequent guests from the network and tapping them for the trial. Alan Dershowitz is another example, and according to CNN's reporting he was quite reluctant to get on board.

 >> On Sunday's "Reliable," Dahlia Lithwick asserted that Trump's team is "aware they're not going to win on the facts," so part of the strategy is "to take complexity and render it chaos..."

Negotiations continue...

On Sunday's show, we spotlighted how Capitol Hill reporters are protesting the expected restrictions on press access during the trial. Sarah Wire said negotiations about access rules are still ongoing. The NYT's Michael Grynbaum has a full story about the disputes here...

 --> Joe Lockhart: "This is about Mitch McConnell and Republican Senators trying to control the flow of information..."

Meet the man who tracks the Fox-Trump feedback loop

His name is Matt Gertz, and he joined me on Sunday's "Reliable." Gertz is a senior fellow at Media Matters, the anti-Fox group that bills itself as a "progressive research and information center." He has been monitoring Trump's tweets since the fall of 2017, looking for every instance of Fox programming influencing POTUS. He came out with a new study on Sunday, finding that Trump "tweeted in response to Fox News or Fox Business programs he was watching at least 657 times in 2019 -- nearly 10% of his total tweets that year..."

 >> Gertz told me he wants to show how much Fox is "impacting the President of the United States and, through him, our daily lives..."

W.H. (again) forces info on sanctioned briefing call to be attributed to unnamed sources

Oliver Darcy emails: The White House held a sanctioned briefing call over the weekend to relay info to reporters on the Trump legal team's strategy for the impeachment trial. But instead of holding it on record, deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley required reporters who wanted to use the info to attribute it to "people close to the legal team."  

The AP's Zeke Miller pushed back, asking, "Is there any way you can move this on the record, since it's awfully weird to have a call with 'people close to a legal team' when we're talking to the legal team?" Gidley responded, "The answer to that question is no." This is of course strange given that Trump has told the American people not to trust information attributed to unnamed sources... 

Grisham lashes out at 'righteous indignation'

Darcy continues: When I tweeted about this over the weekend, Grisham responded via Twitter. She wrote, in part, "I'm sorry you aren't happy w/ the way it was presented - but we were happy to give so many reported important info. today. Can we stop w the righteous indignation now?" 

I tweeted back, "Stephanie, genuine question: Why isn’t info provided by the White House on sanctioned briefing calls attributable on the record? The President has literally told Americans not to trust info cited to unnamed sources. I truly cannot understand this practice given Trump’s rhetoric." Grisham never replied. As I wrote earlier this week, I've never received an ON THE RECORD answer to this question...

Reporters should ask!

Darcy adds: It's become common for reporters to accept these bizarre ground rules without challenging them. But it's worth asking: Why aren't these sanctioned briefings on the record? As Axios' Alayna Treene tweeted, "My reporter colleagues and I also need to be better about pressing the White House, congressional staff offices, etc. about this during official briefing calls."


 -- Trump is averaging about nine false claims a day... (CNN)

 -- "A Very Stable Genius" by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig is holding steady at No. 1 on Amazon and ahead of its Tuesday release date... (Amazon)

 -- Great lead by Mary Clare Jalonick: "No cellphones. No talking. No escape. That’s the reality during the Senate's impeachment trial..." (AP)

 -- The Clinton impeachment trial, "once a fading cultural artifact in the C-SPAN archives, has suddenly received new life," Darren Samuelsohn writes... (Politico)

 -- Margaret Sullivan's newest column is about proportionality: "What truly deserves our all-out attention and outrage? What’s the small stuff? Numbed by the barrage of news, dazzled by distraction, many citizens don’t seem to know anymore..." (WaPo)

Fewer than 24 hours from story to Archives apology

Fewer than 24 hours after Joe Heim's WaPo story about the National Archives blurring images critical of Trump came out, the Archives apologized. Heim and the Post deserve a lot of credit. But what if Heim hadn't noticed the alterations?

 >> Masha Gessen's essay: "It seems that, unless the media focussed its attention on them," key staffers at the Archives "might not even have realized that they were engaging in the very opposite of what the Archives had been created to do: forge a clear and accurate historical record..."

Shot and chaser

SHOT: Trump to donors on Friday night, according to an audio recording obtained by WaPo: "Who the hell cares about the budget? We're going to have a country."

CHASER: "For most of Barack Obama's time in office, Republicans seemed to care very much about the budget," WaPo's story said. Classic understatement. As Oliver Darcy pointed out, can you even imagine how, say, Rush Limbaugh would have reacted to Obama saying "who the hell cares about the budget?"

Two months later...

Oliver Darcy emails: John Solomon's name was back in the news this weekend after House Democrats released text messages which referenced him. So it's worth noting: Saturday was the two-month anniversary of The Hill Editor-In-Chief Bob Cusack announcing that the outlet would review and "when appropriate" issue corrections to his work. That review has STILL yet to be completed... 

'MAGA Rachel Maddow' ?

Ben Jacobs' latest is about Steve Bannon, Jason Miller and Raheem Kassam's pro-Trump "War Room: Impeachment" show, with the caveat that it's hard to tell how many people are listening/streaming. "He may not have succeeded as Trump's Karl Rove, but Bannon could still end up becoming the MAGA Rachel Maddow," Jacobs wrote, "filling a niche of diving deep into pet issues for a hardcore partisan audience."

 -- Notable graf: "Bannon contrasts his program with strident Trump defenders like Sean Hannity. 'I love Sean, but it's not as hardcore as Sean is — every day with just the repeating of things,' says the former top White House aide. 'It's questioning because we think in the questioning, that’s where the power comes.'"

Monday's front pages in the UK...

Here they are, via Sky News. The Times claims there are "Royal fears over deals the Sussexes could strike." The Daily Express leads with Harry's Sunday night remarks about why "there really was no other option." Read CNN's full story about his comments...

Sarandos: "Who wouldn't be interested?"

At the Producer's Guild Awards, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos was asked about potentially working with Harry and Meghan. "Who wouldn’t be interested? Yes, sure," Sarandos responded. Sarandos wasn't divulging anything specific, but the comment caught fire over the weekend, stoking speculation about an Obama-type deal for the couple... 


 -- Read Alan Rusbridger's piece for The Guardian: "The storytellers" in the royals saga "are hardly disinterested observers..." (Guardian)

 -- The weekend's No. 1 must read about tech: Kashmir Hill's expose of Clearview AI, "the secretive company that might end privacy as we know it..." (NYT)

 -- Harvey Weinstein's defense attorneys "have filed a motion for a mistrial." At issue, they say, is that "a woman writing a novel about 'predatory' older men and their relationships with younger woman" has been seated as one of the 12 jurors... (CNN)

And the SAG winners are...

Brian Lowry writes: "Parasite" made history at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night, in a night that saw the individual winners mostly follow the script, and which was surprisingly devoid of politics except for Robert De Niro's speech as he received SAG's lifetime achievement award. Some highlights:

 -- "Parasite" became the first foreign-language movie to win SAG's coveted best ensemble prize.

 -- Joaquin Phoenix and Renee Zellweger received the top acting prizes for "Joker" and "Judy."

 -- In the movie categories, the supporting actor and actress awards also went to presumed favorites, as Laura Dern and Brad Pitt claimed awards for "Marriage Story" and "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood."

 -- Then Jennifer Aniston picked up a trophy for "The Morning Show," and the ex-couple embraced backstage, giving birth to a thousand tabloid stories and TV segments.

 -- Amazon snagged its second best comedy ensemble prize for "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" as well as actor Tony Shalhoub, and added Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the Emmy-winning "Fleabag." Netflix's history of the British Royal family, "The Crown," was crowned for the first time as best drama ensemble.

Read Lowry's full report. And here's the complete winners list...

'1917' wins big at the PGA Awards

Brian Lowry writes: The SAG Awards are televised because, well, actors, but in terms of barometers for the Oscars, the big award came Saturday night, when the Producers Guild honored "1917," which now looks like the definitive frontrunner. The PGA has the best batting average in predicting the Academy Awards among the guilds — eight times in the past 10 years, twice as many as either the WGA or SAG, and two better than the DGA — and has overlapped with the Oscars 21 out of its 30 years. (The DGA and WGA will weigh in on Jan. 25 and Feb. 1, respectively.)

A batch of Apple TV+ announcements

"Apple TV+ made its first ever appearance at the Television Critics Association's biannual press tour" on Sunday, the final day of the tour, AdWeek's Kelsey Sutton wrote.

Apple announced a March 6 premiere date for "Amazing Stories" and set dates for several other forthcoming series, per Variety's Danielle Turchiano.

There was also a panel discussion about "The Morning Show," with Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Billy Crudup, Mimi Leder, and Michael Ellenberg. Per Deadline's Peter White, "when asked how the show had performed and whether Apple had shared any ratings data, the panel were unsurprisingly tight-lipped. Witherspoon said, 'They're happy,' while Aniston added, 'Word of mouth has been lovely. We're thrilled with the response to the first season.'"

 >> Will Steve Carell be back for season two? "You'll see," Ellenberg said. "We're exploring it. There's no update yet..."

 >> Stelter's disclosure: I'm a consulting producer on "The Morning Show."

'Bad Boys For Life' wins the holiday weekend

Frank Pallotta reports: "The film will make an estimated $68.1 million over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in North America, according to Sony. That's the second biggest opening ever for both the holiday weekend and the month of January, behind only "American Sniper." Read on...

'Dolittle:' A big bust

"Universal made a big investment in 'Dolittle,' but the adventure comedy is going bust at the box office with a 4-day domestic opening weekend of $30 million and a global opening launch of $50 million," TheWrap's Jeremy Fuster wrote Sunday. "Based on a reported production budget of $175 million, multiple film finance experts tell TheWrap that they currently project a loss of $100 million for the project..."
Thank you for reading! Email me your feedback anytime...
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