Donald Trump, and the Gay Donors who Love Him
Sarah Maslin Nir in The New York Times has one of the most intriguing beats at the paper – Donald Trump’s relationship with New York City.

Her story this week was about a pair of political parasites who jumped out of the arms of their fellow liberals and into the lap of Donald Trump after his election. According to Nir, Bill White and his husband, Bryan Eure, were once Hillary Clinton donors but now brag about the millions they raise for the president.

Why did former liberals – a gay married couple, no less – swing so far to the right? Turns out they wanted to be where the party was.

On Election night in 2016, White explained, they were at Hillary’s funereal gathering at the Javits Center. Smelling defeat, they drove over to Trump’s far livelier victory party. “I didn’t want to be part of that misery pie; I’m not a wallower in self-pity,” he told Nir. They were already brooding that the Clintons had been ignoring them - Chelsea Clinton had recently snubbed them at the Polo Bar.

Things are so much better now. They visit Mar-a-Lago all the time. They sport Eric and Don Jr.’s cell numbers. They have the ear of the president. Unfortunately, thanks to the Times, the whole city is laughing at them.

Reporter Nir was a Pulitzer finalist in 2016 for an investigation into the treatment of female workers in nail salons. She’s written about Paul Manafort’s 1890’s brownstone row house in Brooklyn, and how Trump’s name may be hurting his hometown interests . We look forward to future Nir stories that make us laugh and cry.
Far from the Maddening Crowd
Communications Breakdown ventures today to the Indian Ocean, to remote North Sentinel Island, where members of an ancient tribe who’ve lived in seclusion for thousands of years killed a self-styled Christian missionary by bow-and-arrow. The death of John Allen Chau, 26, began as a small inside story, or a quick web hit, across the media landscape during the Thanksgiving holiday week, but grabbed enough reader/viewer interest that it was running on at least one network newscast. How could it not be? In these days of lightning communication and access, where everything is shared instantaneously, here was mystery and tropical terror of the unseen. What a fascinating realization – known to others, perhaps, but frankly not to us – that such isolated island peoples still exist. Seriously -- death by bow-and-arrow? Here also was a break from heavily messaged stories about political strife closer to home.

But then bloggers, columnists and heavy social media users took it further, divining from Chau’s death lessons to be applied to the wider world. Some saw him as the epitome of Western arrogance as he kayaked ashore, dodging arrows, Bible in hand, to spread the gospel to people who just wanted to be left alone. Others questioned why someone whose ancestry was partially Korean -- a country that has historically had outside culture foisted upon it -- would try and impose his beliefs on the North Sentinelese. And at least one Australian politician saw it as a dark warning about the perils of immigration (not sure we got that).

In any event, here’s a reminder that a great story is a great story, even a tragic one, and you never know where it’s going to come from.
Miami Heat
More and more frequently, big investigative stories that move the needle only come from a few major news organizations. So it was thrilling – albeit infuriating and nauseating – to read The Miami Herald’s deeply reported investigation into how President Trump’s secretary of labor, Alexander Acosta, helped serial sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein get a light sentence (13 months for abusing, literally, dozens of women, many underage girls) back when Acosta was Miami’s top prosecutor. Epstein, a deranged predator pal of Bill Clinton’s and others whose criminal sleaziness has been well documented, could easily have gotten life.

Herald reporter Julie K. Brown had the goods – she was able to identify 80 possible victims, tracked down 60, and got eight to talk – four on the record. She was given months to dig – a real commitment in a newsroom that like so many others puts out a daily report with hugely diminished resources.

Acosta, 49, currently oversees the agency that not only provides oversight over the country’s labor laws, including – ready for this?– human trafficking, but was also considered a possible replacement for Jeff Sessions. Even for the president, with his vast tolerance for the morally compromised, these charges might be too much to stomach. Some theorize that not only will Acosta never be AG now, he might not even keep his current job.

We need more like Julie Brown, and more editors to set reporters like her loose.
Thanksgiving Leftover
Communications Breakdown had Thanksgiving week off, but we just had to share a bit of holiday dissonance in the Times. 

The November 17th front page featured a chilling story by Jan Hoffman describing how easily teens get hooked vaping on Juuls, profiling a teenage boy’s descent into misery (“So began a toxic relationship with an e-cigarette that would, over the next two years, develop into a painful nicotine addiction that drained his savings, left him feeling winded… and culminated in a shouting, tearful confrontation with his parents.”)
 The damning coverage didn’t ruin the fun over at the Style  Section, which the next day heralded an 18-karat handcrafted gold Juul case selling for $5,000 (“smokers are customizing their trendy vape pens with purple glitter, fake designer labels and even 18-karat gold.”).

The A book (as the paper’s front section is called), where the addicted-teen story appeared, was on regular newsprint and nearly bereft of ads; the Style section, a world away from the buzz-killing news story, was on lovely white paper.
Some Good News for Media in the Never-Ending Political Season
Remember when politics dominated the news before an election, but then faded? No more. From CNN to Politico to everything in-between, it’s all politics all the time (with the occasional exception of North Sentinel islanders killing missionaries with bow and arrows). It might be exhausting to non-political junkies, but it turns out that this new paradigm is helping the bottom line of media companies. Tribune Media (no longer tronc, thank the Lord), saw a 90 percent increase in political spending from the last midterm elections. Company CEO Peter Kern said recently that the increase might be here to stay. “We may be seeing a fundamental shift in spending patterns in this category,” he told Wall Street analysts. “We may be seeing the start of an ‘always on’ political cycle.”

Count us in, as long as there are more attack ads featuring brothers and sisters sabotaging each other's campaigns.
Here and There
Comings and Goings in Media and Communications

Former Burson-Marsteller U.S. CEO Mike Fernandez  joins Llorente & Cuenca in the same role… Elena Schneider, Laura Barrón-López and Holly Otterbein are named to Politico’s 2020 election team… Andrew Cohen writes his 1,000th “Opening Statement” morning newsletter for The Marshall Project…
(Please send your Comings and Goings to the email address below.)
“If Bobbie talks, I’m finished” – Former head of CBS Les Moonves on his fears that a former actress who accused him of abuse will speak to the press. She did.

“He was just a run-of-the-mill calf that’s turned into a giant” --  Geoff Pearson, an Australian rancher whose prize steer, Knickers, grew so large he could not be slaughtered, and is now an international celebrity.
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