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Welcome back to the second edition of Communications Breakdown, Kirtzman Strategies’ weekly email focused on media and communications. Our goal is to provide perspective on the biggest stories of the week and fill you in on the comings and goings in the political and media communications worlds. Please send us your feedback, comments and criticisms. Happy reading...
The Midterm is the Message
Rarely has there been an election so dominated by words disconnected from reality. A massive tax cut for the middle-class; dispatching armed forces to the border to confront an “invasion;” ending birthright citizenship. We’ve all heard President Trump announce these plans in recent days, and we all know they aren’t remotely possible – Congress is out of session, so no tax cut, there is no “invasion” and it would be pretty difficult to rescind the 14th Amendment. He’s gleefully pouring gas on the flames of outrage wherever he goes these days, with his message his only reality. His words are untethered to action before or after he utters them. Alternate facts have become alternate reality.
What About the Nates?
So much for words, what happened to numbers? Nate Silver and Nate Cohn of FiveThirtyEight and The Upshot , respectively, loomed large over election coverage in 2016 but endured withering criticism after Trump’s surprise victory. They’re still out there making informed predictions of which way the world will turn this coming Tuesday, but they’re no longer dictating the narrative. With editors far less willing to toss the credibility of their organizations into their laps, Moneyball-style political handicapping has lost its swagger.
Get that Reporter a Xanax!
Trump announced his vision of banning birthright citizenship to Jim VandeHei and Jonathan Swan on the new AXIOS-HBO show. Sam Biddle in The Intercept noted that Swan’s enthusiasm for Trump’s dubious announcement bordered on fandom, and others have piled on (a video snippet shows the reporter virtually jumping out of his chair and reacting with something close to glee). Many of the reporters piling on Swan have probably shown too much glee when landing an exclusive of their own once or twice. But VandeHei and Swan brought a camera into the room, and then subsequently, inexplicably, promoted the video to the press. Nothing matches the rush of landing a scoop (much less one from the president). But as a television reporter might have advised Swan, a rolling camera is as dangerous to the interviewer as to the interviewed.
Meanwhile in the Empire State...
Back here in New York, it doesn’t look good for Marcus Molinaro, the Republican candidate for governor who’s way behind in the polls. Which made it almost sadistic for the Times to wait until just a week before Election Day to give him his big Times profile – which reported (surprise!) that he has been “struggling to raise money and awareness of his candidacy.”

 Self-fulfilling prophesies aside, we think Molinaro acquitted himself well in a race he never could have won, keeping cool in the debate with Cuomo and displaying the polish of a candidate who’s been in the business since the age of 19 (he was elected mayor of the tiny Hudson Valley town of Tivoli after asking for his mom’s permission to run). Next time….
The Death of Apu, Cont'd
Watching Western actors play Asian or other non-white characters in old movies is pretty cringeworthy (have you ever seen Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto , a Japanese detective?) Thankfully, Asian actors are moving front and center in movies and television. And then there’s Apu, the Indian manager of the Kwik-E-Mart convenience store in The Simpsons, long voiced by the white actor Hank Azaria. Apu remains a defiant stereotype in a changing world. The Daily Beast has covered what it terms the “racism storm” over his continued presence, his continued voicing by Azaria, and his apparent inability to get promoted despite working in the same job for 30 years. Maybe it’s time for Apu to move up in the world. Why doesn’t he buy the Kwik-E-Mart chain?
Gone as Fast as a Snapchat
What on earth happened here? As Snapchat fights myriad challenges, including slowing growth, Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel told colleagues that he was promoting the well-liked Kristen O’Hara to chief business officer. But two days later he changed his mind and appointed Jeremi Gorman of Amazon, leading to O’Hara’s departure. Something bad obviously happened behind the scenes – we’re waiting to read that scoop – but this kind of whiplash, whatever the reason, is a new one when it comes to P.R. disasters. Someone needs to get in front of this one and explain what went on behind the scenes, and in Spiegel’s head.
Here and There
Comings and Goings in Media and Communications  
 
Dareh Gregorian, formerly of The Daily News, joins the web news operation at NBC …
Diana Littman leaves Marina Maher Communications to become CEO of MSL U.S., replacing Ron Guirguis Matthew Walsh joins Connelly McLaughlin & Woloz after leaving the NYC DOT …

(Please send your comings and goings to the email address below.)
Quoteable
“I’ve been used” – Kanye West, calling it quits as a political figure.

“I’m kind of a big deal too” – Vice President Mike Pence, up against Oprah and Will Ferrell in the race between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp in Georgia.

“Freddy hated rats . Freddy hated guys who abused women. Whitey was a rat who killed women. It's probably that simple" -- Ted McDonough, a private investigator familiar with Freddy Geas, a suspect in the beating death of Boston mobster Whitey Bulger.
Have a career announcement for Here and There? A Quote-able quote?
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