The crisis in the news
Play episode · 52 min

There’s been a lot of discussion lately — including on this show — of the problems facing national news. Cries of fake news, illiberalism in the administration, fractured audiences, the cancel culture debate, shaky business models, and more. But the truest crisis in news isn’t in national news. It’s in local news. 


American newspapers cut 45 percent of newsroom staff between 2008 and 2017. From 2004 to 2015, the U.S. newspaper industry lost over 1,800 print outlets to closures and mergers. And it’s only gotten worse since then. This is truest crisis in American news media: That so many places are losing the institutions that gather the news, that bind the community together, that hold public officials accountable ands bring public concerns visibility. Vast swaths of the country are now news deserts — and it’s happening at the same time that the average news consumer feels like they’re drowning in more information than ever before.


Margaret Sullivan was the award-winning chief editor of the Buffalo News, then the public editor of the New York Times, and now the media columnist for the Washington Post. She’s also the author of Ghosting The News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of Democracy. This is a conversation about the economic, technological, and political forces that led to the devastation of local news; what happens to communities in the absence of health local news institutions; and, just as importantly, what we can do to save and revitalize local journalism.


Book recommendations:

Democracy’s Detectives by James T. Hamilton

Still Here by Alexandra Jacobs 

Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir by Joyce Johnson


Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.

New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)


Credits:

Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld

Researcher in chief - Roge Karma

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Political Gabfest
Political Gabfest
Slate Podcasts
Almost
Here are some references from this week’s show: David Wasserman for the Cook Political Report: “What One Florida County Could Tell Us About a ‘Gray Revolt’ on Election Night” Rosemary Quigley’s Slate diary The Betsy-Tacy Treasury book series by Maud Hart Lovelace Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor The Anne of Green Gables book series by L.M. Montgomery John Dickerson for Slate: “To the Teacher Who Changed My Life” Here are this week’s cocktail chatters:  Emily: Casey Newton’s newsletter, Platformer John: El País: “A Room, a Bar and a Classroom: How the Coronavirus Is Spread Through the Air”; The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead David: David asked whether there is a word for the extreme discomfort he felt watching people embarrassed in terrible ways in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm   Listener chatter from Alana @snarkoutgirl: Wikitongues: “Aydyn Speaking Tuvan” Slate Plus members get a bonus segment on the Gabfest each week, and access to special bonus episodes throughout the year. Sign up now to listen and support our show. For this week’s Slate Plus bonus segment ahead of Halloween, Emily, David, and John share memories of times they were deeply scared. You can tweet suggestions, links, and questions to @SlateGabfest. Tweet us your cocktail chatter using #cocktailchatter. (Messages may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)   The email address for the Political Gabfest is gabfest@slate.com. (Email may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.) Podcast production by Jocelyn Frank. Research and show notes by Bridgette Dunlap. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1 hr 12 min
Trump, Inc.
Trump, Inc.
WNYC Studios
Trump, Inc.
Go to New York Magazine to read our list of insiders who profited off the Trump presidency. On April 30, 2018, nine top executives from T-Mobile checked in to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., with their names on a list of VIP arrivals. They landed in Washington at a critical moment: Just the day before, T-Mobile had announced plans for a merger with Sprint. To complete the deal, the company needed approval from the Justice Department, one block away on Pennsylvania Avenue. Hanging out in the lobby in his trademark hot-pink-and-black T-Mobile hoodie, then CEO John Legere was instantly recognizable to hotel guests. His company wasn’t just patronizing the president’s hotel. It was advertising that it was doing so. That evening, in a closed-door suite just off the hotel lobby, a small group of political donors got to have dinner with the president of the United States. The guests included a steel magnate, who complained to the president about rules limiting the number of hours a trucker could be on the road, and a property developer, who suggested holding the next summit with Kim Jong-un at a site he had built near Seoul. Also in the mix were two then-obscure businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. They had secured an invite to the dinner after promising a $325,000 donation to a Trump-aligned super-PAC. Like the other guests, they came with an agenda. Parnas and Fruman wanted to build an energy business in Ukraine but felt the U.S. ambassador in Kiev, Marie Yovanovitch, stood in their way. Parnas fed the president a fabrication that was sure to get his attention: that Yovanovitch was an anti-Trumper. “She’s basically walking around telling everybody, ‘Wait, he’s going to get impeached,’ ” Parnas told the president. Trump was enraged. Parnas and Fruman and the T-Mobile executives were pulling the same lever that night. And they all got results. T-Mobile’s merger was later approved, and Ambassador Yovanovitch was abruptly removed from the U.S. Embassy in Kiev. Later, Parnas and Fruman were indicted on a -campaign-finance-violations charge (they had concealed the origins of their super-PAC donation) and were arrested with one-way tickets to Vienna in hand. (They have pleaded not guilty and face trial in 2021.) Trump claimed he did not know them. This is the Washington Trump has built these past four years, where people who patronize Trump businesses can expect preferential treatment, where a deputy secretary can oversee a bailout that benefits his family’s company, where administration officials fly in private jets paid for by the public — and where top government officials don’t bother to divest from industries whose policies they oversee. It started at the top, of course. Just nine days before his inauguration, Trump held his first news conference as president-elect. Presiding over a table with towering stacks of folders, Trump’s lawyer suggested there would be a “wall” between Trump’s business and his presidency, even though Trump himself made it quite clear that he would not be divesting. “I have a no-conflict situation because I’m president,” Trump said. “I could run the Trump Organization, great, great company, and I could run the company — the country,” he added. “I’d do a very, very good job, but I don’t want to do that.” Trump never separated himself from his company in any meaningful way. Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, also didn’t fully divest from their business interests. The couple made tens of millions of dollars from an array of limited-liability companies while also serving in the White House. Trump’s Commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, pledged to Congress that he would largely sell off his assets, then took dozens of meetings with executives to whose companies he had personal financial ties. Others did divest, but then proceeded to use their agency budgets as their personal piggy banks. Friends, donors, and hangers-on also thrived. Top GOP financier Elliott Broidy leveraged his fundraising into access, including a meeting in the Oval Office. Broidy attempted to use that access as a calling card with foreign officials from whom he sought security contracts. Like several other beneficiaries of Trump’s generosity, Broidy eventually found himself in legal trouble, pleading guilty to violating foreign-lobbying laws on behalf of Malaysian and Chinese clients. But many Trump affiliates benefited in ways that are perfectly legal. Attorney William S. Consovoy, who argued before an appeals court last fall that Trump could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and be shielded from all consequences (the judges were unpersuaded), brought in $2 million from the RNC and Trump-campaign committees. Others sought the ultimate benefit: freedom. Roger Stone, who would not turn on Trump despite the threat of jail time, was one of many Trump loyalists and allies to receive clemency from the president. To be sure, a lot of people found ways to benefit from Trump’s time in office: journalists, progressive nonprofits, high earners — Trump donors or not. But Trump profiteers went far beyond what used to count as standard-issue Washington swampiness. New York partnered with WNYC’s Trump, Inc. podcast to identify 51 such insiders, whose unprecedented ability to gain from the Trump presidency will go down in history. Their schemes became ever more brazen these past four years, even as their goals shifted. The initial grifts tended to be strictly transactional on the model of the Trump Organization itself, through which the Trump name could be had by nearly anyone for the right price. Later on, not just money but power became the president’s currency. The quids became subtler: shielding Trump from legal consequences, investigating a political opponent, providing an intellectual rationale for understanding the presidency as Trump sees it — not as a civic duty but as a business. Read our full list of 51 Trump insiders (from Sheldon Adelson to Ryan Zinke) at New York Magazine. Sign up for email updates from Trump, Inc. to get the latest on our investigations.
36 min
The New Abnormal with Molly Jong-Fast & Rick Wilson
The New Abnormal with Molly Jong-Fast & Rick Wilson
The Daily Beast
The Lincoln Project’s Secret War Plan—Revealed!
Rick Wilson and his crew of Republican refugees have been getting in Trump’s head practically since the day they got together. But over the weekend, the psychological combat hit a new peak, when Jared and Ivanka sent one of daddy’s lawyers after the Lincoln Project over a billboard they put in Times Square. And Rick, for one, was loving it. “A big part of our operations has been from the beginning to disrupt the leadership of the Trump campaign and to cause Donald Trump himself to poop his diaper and to cause these people to lose their minds. [Now we’ve] pinn[ed] down Jared and Ivanka Thursday and Friday of last week, and distract[ed] Donald Trump,” Rick explains to Molly Jong-Fast on the latest episode of The New Abnormal.  “So it's the eve of battle. And two of the generals of Trump's army have now been paralyzed. They have thought of nothing else for the last several days… You drag off resources, attention, time, focus from what they should be fighting and you make them fight the battles you want them to fight. Think of me as kind of like a redneck Sun-Tzu.” Then! Molly has an incredibly powerful interview with Dr. Rick Bright, the vaccine expert turned whistleblower. He was in charge of a massive federal effort to develop medical countermeasures to biological threats. But he couldn’t stand by while Team Trump pushed a bogus treatment for COVID-19. “I had to decide at that moment to be complicit and be part of a government that would put people's lives at risk—or to step out,” he tells Molly, choking up. “I still get emotional about it because I still remember that day of stepping out and how impactful it was on me, knowing that it was going to change my life. You just know they're gonna come after you. So you have to decide, is it worth it? And to me, it was absolutely worth it.” Plus! Will Trump’s wig come off in a toilet? Where’s the real power in American politics? (Hint: not in D.C.) Why did Team Trump want to inject Santa? And how in the name of Gotham City did Bane get on this podcast? Want more? Become a Beast Inside member to enjoy a limited-run series of bonus interviews from The New Abnormal. Guests include Cory Booker, Jim Acosta, and more. Head to newabnormal.thedailybeast.com to join now.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
59 min
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