Reliable Sources: Bad optics for White House

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

Posted: Aug 28, 2018 8:50 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?

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 613228

Reported Deaths: 9728
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion846851338
Lake45676687
Allen32980552
Hamilton29649315
St. Joseph27531382
Elkhart24478345
Vanderburgh19610250
Tippecanoe18108141
Johnson15191295
Porter14944169
Hendricks14485250
Madison11044222
Clark10811144
Vigo10795181
Monroe9458113
Delaware9170134
LaPorte9145164
Howard8292144
Kosciusko810183
Warrick680299
Hancock6782104
Bartholomew6640100
Floyd6507110
Wayne6177162
Grant6027116
Dubois558680
Boone556468
Morgan548695
Henry511464
Marshall506984
Cass486964
Dearborn486545
Noble475659
Jackson427747
Shelby420781
Lawrence393780
Clinton375044
Gibson374459
Harrison353045
DeKalb349864
Montgomery347654
Knox336239
Miami324544
Steuben315046
Whitley311126
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Adams302836
Ripley300546
Putnam298950
Huntington294860
Jasper291734
White275143
Daviess271774
Jefferson266238
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Fayette248648
Greene242262
Posey241028
Wells236951
LaGrange230062
Scott226839
Clay224332
Randolph215248
Jennings200636
Sullivan193533
Spencer193022
Washington188023
Fountain184927
Starke176444
Jay168623
Owen167637
Fulton164830
Orange160935
Carroll159715
Rush156318
Perry155929
Vermillion149734
Franklin149333
Tipton133133
Parke13088
Pike118526
Blackford111822
Pulaski97837
Newton92021
Brown88335
Benton87110
Crawford8099
Martin74913
Warren6857
Switzerland6695
Union6297
Ohio4977
Unassigned0376

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 868656

Reported Deaths: 10768
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin102154707
Cuyahoga865201153
Hamilton64744448
Montgomery43516419
Summit35250762
Lucas31663631
Butler31268232
Stark26096443
Warren19830142
Lorain19296229
Mahoning17471339
Lake16250154
Clermont16128112
Delaware1453680
Licking13326137
Fairfield1294981
Trumbull12920317
Greene12174141
Medina11732168
Clark11058265
Wood10457158
Allen9988127
Portage9454111
Miami924473
Richland9236118
Marion7486113
Tuscarawas7440183
Columbiana7409124
Pickaway732150
Wayne7111172
Muskingum710342
Erie6221130
Ross5558100
Hancock555292
Scioto542764
Geauga515955
Darke473492
Lawrence460658
Union456928
Ashtabula456473
Sandusky439562
Mercer435089
Seneca433866
Huron432841
Auglaize424164
Shelby422522
Jefferson422469
Belmont421145
Washington394240
Athens38389
Putnam378075
Madison358129
Knox356122
Ashland349038
Fulton340443
Defiance334486
Crawford325774
Preble322737
Brown315821
Logan312132
Ottawa296543
Clinton291543
Williams280367
Highland279018
Jackson265845
Guernsey257126
Champaign253428
Fayette239530
Morrow23464
Perry233718
Holmes226774
Henry221953
Hardin215533
Coshocton206922
Van Wert203445
Gallia199826
Wyandot196751
Pike178017
Adams177715
Hocking173224
Carroll157616
Paulding145321
Noble121040
Meigs109724
Monroe102232
Harrison89921
Morgan83931
Vinton71314
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