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?

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 609387

Reported Deaths: 7743
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1262491796
Ramsey52997910
Dakota47216475
Anoka43200465
Washington27664296
Stearns22659227
St. Louis18245319
Scott17686139
Wright16518153
Olmsted13503103
Sherburne1212396
Carver1073749
Clay829692
Rice8249111
Blue Earth769944
Crow Wing687999
Kandiyohi669885
Chisago626954
Otter Tail590087
Benton585198
Goodhue485574
Douglas477781
Mower477533
Winona463552
Itasca462768
Isanti445566
McLeod434261
Morrison427762
Beltrami410163
Nobles409850
Steele400719
Polk390772
Becker389157
Lyon365054
Carlton356958
Freeborn350734
Pine337323
Nicollet334045
Mille Lacs314856
Brown308640
Le Sueur299527
Cass288133
Todd288133
Meeker265444
Waseca240723
Martin236933
Roseau212221
Wabasha20833
Hubbard197741
Dodge18943
Renville183146
Redwood178141
Houston175416
Cottonwood168124
Wadena165023
Fillmore158910
Faribault156920
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec147828
Sibley147310
Aitkin139237
Watonwan13619
Rock129019
Jackson123112
Pipestone117126
Yellow Medicine115320
Pope11396
Murray107310
Swift107318
Koochiching96819
Stevens92611
Clearwater89217
Marshall88817
Lake84320
Wilkin83813
Lac qui Parle76122
Big Stone6094
Grant5958
Lincoln5863
Mahnomen5669
Norman5509
Kittson49122
Unassigned48193
Red Lake4037
Traverse3815
Lake of the Woods3474
Cook1740

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 374664

Reported Deaths: 6109
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58891646
Linn21448342
Scott20426250
Black Hawk16680319
Woodbury15319230
Johnson1473686
Dubuque13595213
Dallas1144099
Pottawattamie11307177
Story1082848
Warren592092
Clinton564393
Cerro Gordo562297
Webster538996
Sioux519174
Muscatine4920106
Marshall491479
Des Moines478275
Jasper452073
Wapello4366123
Buena Vista431040
Plymouth404982
Lee392658
Marion369177
Jones301257
Henry301037
Bremer292763
Carroll286252
Boone271234
Crawford270841
Benton262755
Washington259851
Dickinson250745
Mahaska232551
Jackson225842
Kossuth219166
Clay217327
Tama213372
Delaware211743
Winneshiek200636
Buchanan196734
Page195422
Cedar192923
Hardin191144
Wright189140
Fayette188243
Hamilton186851
Harrison181973
Clayton173057
Butler167835
Madison167719
Floyd164642
Mills163824
Cherokee161538
Lyon160941
Poweshiek159036
Allamakee155552
Hancock153134
Iowa148324
Winnebago145731
Calhoun143113
Cass140855
Grundy139333
Emmet136741
Jefferson134535
Sac132620
Shelby131838
Louisa130249
Union129535
Appanoose128049
Franklin127823
Mitchell127243
Chickasaw125717
Guthrie124532
Humboldt124526
Palo Alto114924
Montgomery106738
Howard105322
Clarke102424
Monroe100633
Keokuk99932
Ida92735
Adair89632
Davis86825
Pocahontas86822
Monona85931
Greene79111
Osceola79017
Lucas77423
Worth7568
Taylor67112
Decatur6629
Fremont64810
Ringgold56824
Van Buren56718
Wayne56323
Audubon52913
Adams3494
Unassigned90
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