Reliable Sources: Bad optics for White House

A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. ...

Posted: Aug 28, 2018 7:50 PM

A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

"None of this should have been hard"

John Berman opened up "AC360" Monday night perplexed. Perplexed as to why it took the White House a storm of controversy to do what was right and offer praise for Sen. John McCain. "What took so long? And why was the president in the wrong place two full days after the senator died?" Berman asked. "What was so hard?"Berman added, "None of this should have been hard."

He's right -- none of this should have been hard. But the White House chose to begin the week with another self-inflicted PR wound, instead of doing what was right from the start. While the federal buildings in the surrounding area continued to lower their flags in honor of McCain, the White House did the opposite Monday morning. The flags were raised to full staff, igniting a whirlwind of controversy -- a controversy the White House ultimately had to quell by lowering the flags back to half staff and issuing a statement from the President. Talk about a PR blunder...

Bad optics

Throughout the day, at several different times, reporters asked Trump if he had any thoughts to share on McCain. Each of those times, Trump declined to comment. At one point he just chose to stare straight ahead as ABC's Jon Karl questioned him just a few feet away. Video of reporters asking Trump questions about McCain and the president awkwardly ignoring them played on cable news throughout the day. The optics were bad, to say the least.

Behind the scenes

NYT's Katie Rogers, Nicholas Fandos, and Maggie Haberman published new reporting Monday night about what was taking place behind the scenes at the White House. According to their reporting, Trump initially "refused repeated requests" from VP Mike Pence and John Kelly to acknowledge McCain's death with a statement...

The tipping point

Something changed later in the day, and Trump finally released a statement lauding McCain's military service and ordering the flag to be lowered until Saturday. So what happened? That part is unclear. Asked about Trump's change in heart, Sarah Sanders told CNN that Trump's decision and statement "speaks for itself."

>> Jim Acosta on Twitter: "Make no mistake. The president and his team had every opportunity to get this right. It took nearly 48 hours for WH to do what should have been done Saturday -- issue a full, respectful statement honoring McCain along with a proclamation that orders flags to fly at half-staff."

Bloomberg reassigned reporter after Wells Fargo CEO called to complain

Wells Fargo and Bloomberg News are facing some heat. Earlier today, I reported via sources that a Bloomberg News reporter who covered Wells Fargo was reassigned earlier this year after the bank's CEO phoned the news organization's editor in chief and complained about the reporter. That incident, I'm told, rocked the banking team and was a contributing factor in the departures of some of the unit's veteran reporters. You can read my full story here...

What happened

>> The Bloomberg News reporter, Shahien Nasirpour, wrote a story in March that called Wells Fargo the "preferred financier for the U.S. gun industry."

>> After his story, Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan sent an internal memo to employees reacting to the story.

>> The Wall Street Journal obtained Sloan's memo and published a story on it. Nasirpour asked Wells Fargo PR for a copy of the memo, but the bank declined his request. A heated conversation ensued between Nasirpour and a spokesperson for the bank.

>> Following the contentious convo, a member of Wells Fargo PR contacted Caroline Gage, global executive editor for finance at Bloomberg News. Gage asked Nasirpour to apologize to Wells Fargo PR. Nasirpour agreed to do so and did.

>> Later in the month, Bloomberg EIC John Micklethwait summoned Nasirpour for a convo. He told Nasirpour that Sloan had called to complain about his conduct. Then, to Nasirpour's surprise, he said he had made the decision to reassign him to cover the Trump Organization.

"We make decisions...purely on what is best for our readers"

In a statement, a Bloomberg News spokesperson told me, "Bloomberg publishes 5,000 stories a day and, like every news organization, we get push back from the companies we cover. We make decisions about how we cover those companies based purely on what is best for our readers." A Wells Fargo spokesperson declined comment.

Read more of Monday's Reliable Sources newsletter... And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox...

Warren slams Wells Fargo CEO

Reacting to the news, Sen. Elizabeth Warren issued a fiery tweet, writing that Wells Fargo customers "would be better off if CEO Tim Sloan focused more on addressing the dozens of scandals plaguing his bank, and less on getting a good journalist reassigned for doing his job (which includes reporting on those scandals)."

I'm curious...

This whole episode has me wondering: How often does Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan phone news outlets to complain about reporters/press coverage?

Huntsville
Partly Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 55°
Florence
Partly Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 56°
Fayetteville
Partly Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 56°
Decatur
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 53°
Scottsboro
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 51°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

 

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 539829

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798271529
Mobile41261809
Madison35132506
Tuscaloosa25915455
Shelby25294249
Montgomery24705593
Baldwin21392310
Lee15987172
Calhoun14569319
Morgan14422280
Etowah13918353
Marshall12275225
Houston10641282
Elmore10147206
Limestone10065151
St. Clair9946245
Cullman9761194
Lauderdale9457243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8339176
Walker7260278
Autauga7001108
Jackson6836112
Blount6771139
Colbert6320135
Coffee5578118
Dale4876113
Russell445138
Chilton4369113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394777
Chambers3590123
Dallas3568153
Clarke351461
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302698
Winston275773
Bibb264564
Geneva254078
Marengo249665
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale223978
Butler219069
Fayette212662
Henry189643
Cherokee184645
Randolph182442
Monroe178141
Washington167739
Macon161150
Clay157157
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143236
Lowndes140553
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 857055

Reported Deaths: 12312
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby964521629
Davidson89674942
Knox51116636
Hamilton44570496
Rutherford43212437
Williamson28116217
Sumner24135349
Montgomery20402227
Wilson18907236
Out of TN1822399
Sullivan16952298
Unassigned16918134
Blount15559196
Bradley15100151
Washington14691245
Maury13545172
Sevier13451175
Putnam11437175
Madison11281241
Robertson9793132
Anderson8795171
Hamblen8632173
Greene7928156
Tipton7397104
Coffee6922123
Dickson6854113
Cumberland6769133
Carter6662158
Gibson6542146
McMinn654198
Bedford6522128
Roane6318105
Jefferson6244125
Loudon616469
Hawkins6161107
Lawrence598491
Monroe587596
Warren555581
Dyer5440106
Franklin516490
Fayette511878
Cheatham457856
Obion455096
Cocke452499
Lincoln437163
Rhea435775
Marshall420658
Campbell417463
Weakley416365
Giles4010100
Henderson380776
White368170
Carroll363483
Macon363178
Hardin358968
Hardeman353764
Henry320676
Lauderdale320244
Claiborne318873
Scott315245
Marion312847
Overton302561
Wayne297034
Hickman284746
McNairy284254
DeKalb280754
Smith278539
Haywood271562
Grainger263550
Morgan251339
Trousdale250622
Fentress243047
Johnson241939
Bledsoe215811
Chester215451
Polk208725
Unicoi204549
Crockett203549
Cannon192831
Union192234
Humphreys181528
Grundy179534
Sequatchie171829
Lake170526
Benton167340
Decatur159339
Lewis158426
Meigs139125
Stewart133028
Jackson132336
Clay110330
Houston109733
Perry107228
Moore101717
Van Buren85523
Pickett75924
Hancock59312

Community Events