In April 2014, the media critic Michael Wolff published a column in British GQ about the then-ongoing phone hacking trial against several journalists and editors employed by Rupert Murdoch’s shuttered tabloid News of the World. Titled “The court without the king,” the critical article is now at the center of a complaint lodged by England’s attorney general, whose office believes GQ should be held in “contempt of court” for implying, with Wolff’s column, that Murdoch was somehow culpable for the hacking charges. As reported by the Guardian, the magazine’s publisher Condé Nast is rightfully fighting this accusation. At the same time, and without any public notice, Condé appears to have taken several highly unusual steps to prevent anyone from reading what Wolff wrote.
In late January, BuzzFeed published a lengthy standards and ethics manual, with which the site intended to hold itself accountable for various missteps (such as surreptitiously deleting articles). Unlike most other news outlets that bother with ethics manuals, however, BuzzFeed decided to specify its stance toward a number of social and political issues: “We firmly believe that for a number of issues, including civil rights, anti-racism, and LGBT equality, there are not two sides.”
The last we heard from the music writer who calls himself M.T. Richards, he was harassing the female rapper then-known as Kitty Pryde via email over the July 4 weekend of 2013. Nearly two years to the day, Richard once again rose above the music-writing flotsam thanks to a weird and gross album review published by Spin.
As soon as the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage was made public on Friday, the New York Times published a strange celebration of that ruling by Frank Bruni, the paper’s only gay columnist (and second-worst one). This is a good thing for Bruni, but a bad thing for anyone looking for an enlightening perspective on the news.
On Saturday, the New York Times published an article about Charleston shooter Dylan Roof’s newly discovered manifesto and cache of selfies. It would have been a pretty straightforward news story had the Times not been fooled by a teen into reporting that Roof was a diehard fan of My Little Pony and was obsessed with 9/11 memes.
Yesterday, NBC News announced the permanent demotion of disgraced Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, who will serve as breaking news manager for MSNBC. Network executives came to this decision after an internal investigation turned up “a number of inaccurate statements” made by Williams “about his own role and experiences.” However, as Michael Calderone at The Huffington Post notes, “NBC opted against transparency and declined to make public its findings.”
We’ve learned that nobody reads or watches Fusion, but as the legend goes, Felix Salmon’s dream journal still harbors a plan to get rich by making people, via their cable companies, pay for its television network. It sounds like a fine enough scheme as any in our current media wasteland, but they better get moving on it before television watchers are able to reject the channel outright.
Yesterday, the New York Times published an article about a deadly balcony collapse in Berkeley that killed six college students from Ireland who had been partying on the structure. The victims had come to California on the J1 work-visa program—which, the Times noted in the second paragraph of the article, has become “a source of embarrassment for Ireland, marked by a series of high-profile episodes involving drunken partying and the wrecking of apartments in places like San Francisco and Santa Barbara.”
Today the Washington Post published a lengthy and (mostly) flattering profile of Benny Johnson, the serial plagiarist who was fired from BuzzFeed last summer and now peddles viral conservative content at Independent Journal Review. “D.C. has always been the city of second chances, now it just moves at meme speed,” reporter Ben Terris writes. “And no one can ride a meme like Benny Johnson.”
On Thursday, at about 4 p.m. Central Standard Time, several news outlets reported that Dennis Hastert, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and Illinois congressman, was indicted for, among other offenses, lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The media entities included BuzzFeed News, the Chicago Sun-Times, and CBS Chicago, all of whom posted their stories within minutes of each other.
In January, Sasha Frere-Jones, the longtime music critic at the New Yorker, left the fabled magazine for a job at Genius (neé Rap Genius), the annotation website that sticks bad jokes next to your favorite rap lyrics. The honeymoon, though, appears to have been short: Frere-Jones recently moved from full-time to contract at the company to devote more time to other projects.
This is the day that the New York Times, National Geographic, and BuzzFeed, among others, began publishing stories directly to Facebook. The instant-publishing partnership is the newest concession to, or accommodation with, Facebook’s ever-greater dominance of how people encounter and read (or watch) material.