Welcome to Communications Breakdown, Kirtzman Strategies’ new weekly email about media and communications (note the inspired double entendre!). Our goal is to provide perspective on the biggest stories of the week, bring attention to others that may have been lost in the maelstrom, and fill you in on the comings and goings in the political and media communications worlds. Please send us your feedback, comments, criticisms – whatever strikes you about our new endeavor. Happy reading...
Media Battleground
Concrete NYPD bollards outside The New York Times . CNN anchors conducting interviews on the street because their headquarters has been evacuated. A Fox News guest saying, well, maybe Democrats sent pipe bombs to themselves in a bid to garner support. Jeff Zucker blaming the president, and his spokeswoman. Donald Trump being briefly presidential, calling for everyone to come together, before reverting to his tried-and-true blame-the-media stance. It’s quite a moment.
Rather than prompting everyone to hit the pause button, this week’s bizarre spate of pipe bomb mailings to common targets of Republican ire – from George Soros to Robert DeNiro – only served to heat up the rhetoric even more. A few got the message right, like Republican Rodney Davis of Illinois, who was shot in 2017 while practicing for the congressional baseball game: he implored the president to revert to his earlier tone. Republicans Ben Sasse and John Kasich also openly criticized their president. Fox belatedly sent words of support to CNN. But it was just a drop in the bucket. Never has there been a bigger opening for the right speech, the right words, to start stitching the growing tear in the national fabric.
Rutenberg Return
The so-called “Davos in the Desert,” the Riyadh investment conference that some execs skipped following the death of Jamal Khashoggi, was the topic of Jim Rutenberg’s first Mediator column in The New York Times since last year. This week, in his second, he wrote about travelling to the border with Mexico to report out an old thought -- how the misery continues after journalists move on to the next disaster – with a new twist: algorithms direct the media hordes to the next high-charting story. Rutenberg replaced the late David Carr as the paper’s media columnist, and it’s good to see him back on the column.
Please Don't Call It That!
Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum, which hosts actual Davos, is begging the media to stop calling the Saudi event Davos in the Desert . Sorry!
Debate Debate
The sole debate between Andrew Cuomo and Marc Molinaro in the New York governor’s race was a bit of a shout-fest, but it was still enjoyable to hear the two men discuss actual issues like tax caps and subway funding. Cuomo, well ahead in the polls, resisted having even this one faceoff, but he escaped without a major gaffe, beyond the odd comment where he seemed to invite Marcia Kramer into his shower to hear him sing. Molinaro didn’t move the needle, but he showed himself to be surprisingly pretty cool and polished under the incumbent’s onslaught. Next race, perhaps.
Here and There
Comings and Goings in Media and Political Communications  

Jim Kirk , briefly the editor of the Los Angeles Times , becomes the editor and publisher of Crain’s Chicago Business … John Schiumo , one-time reporter and host for NY1 in New York City, joins Global Strategy Group as Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs … Fred Kuebler , previously of WK Communications, is now Senior Manager, Global HR Communications at Whirlpool …  Mireya Navarro , a former reporter at The New York Times , has started as Senior Media Strategist at Brennan Center for Justice at New York University… Thomas Crampton , from Ogilvy, joins Edelman, where he’ll run the company’s global digital operation (send your Comings & Goings to the email address below!)
“I've never been a ‘pc’ kind of person” – Megyn Kelly, apologizing for defending blackface.

“I’m not calling him a racist. But the racists believe he’s a racist.” – Andrew Gillum, Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Florida, at debate against Republican Ron DeSantis.
“I don’t mind someone having a snack. A full-on subway meal or a roast chicken, leaving the bones all over the place, isn’t acceptable” – Andy Byford, president of the New York City subways, on the dining habits of subway riders.
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