Donald Trump Gets Mt. McKinley Wrong (Big Surprise)

From our To Know Trump desk

Donald Trump, who is his own political reality show, has proven to be the most unreliable source since Charles Kinbote in Vladimir Nabokov’s Rubik’s novel Pale Fire.

Exhibit Umpteen: This 1990 Vanity Fair profile by Marie Brenner (tip o’ the pixel to Longform).

And Umpteen + One: Trump’s current take on Barack Obama’s renaming Alaska’s Mt. McKinley Mt. Denali.

From @realDonaldTrump:


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Except . . .

It was named Mt. McKinley in 1917, which is less than 100 years ago.

Not to get technical about it.

Which many media outlets haven’t. This Fortune piece, for example, lets Trump and House Speaker John Boehner get the math wrong.

But that’s par for the course with the news media’s Trump Chump submission.

Another case in point is this Politico piece about yesterday’s Trump/Bush video rumpus. It ends with these three tweets from Trump:

Yet another weak hit by a candidate with a failing campaign. Will Jeb sink as low in the polls as the others who have gone after me?

Jeb is spending millions of dollars on “hit” ads funded by lobbyists & special interests. Bad system.

While millions are being spent against me in attack ads, they are paid for by the “bosses” and “owners” of candidates. I am self funding.

Politico totally lets Trump get away with the “millions in attack ads” when, in fact, there are none. Ditto for today’s edition of MSNBC’s First Read.

Not that everyone is letting Trump get away with pushing his parallel reality. Check out Stephen Loiaconi’s WJLA (ABC’s Washington D.C. affiliate) web piece yesterday. (Shameless self-promotion alert: The chinstroking staff is quoted in the piece.)

So, to recap: Is letting Trump fudge a couple of years on Mt. McKinley a big deal? Not really. But it’s symptomatic of a press performance that’s all too often as unreality-based as Trump’s.

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Quote o’ the Day (R.I.P. Ritchie Valens Edition)

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal featured this House Call piece with Dion DiMucci (of Dion and the Belmonts) in its Mansion section.

‘The Wanderer’ Finds His Voice

A teen hit-maker remembers his Bronx home and its connection to a fatal 1959 plane crash

My father, Pasquale, was like Tarzan, except we lived in the BN-JZ266_0827di_FR_20150824160528Bronx. He never had a real job, but he could walk a block on his hands and climb trees effortlessly. When he and my mom weren’t fighting over the $36 rent, he taught me to dive off the City Island Bridge and took me to museums.

Back in the 1940s, the Belmont section was like a city commune of Italians. We lived at 749 E. 183rd St., and I had dozens of relatives sprinkled around the nearby tenements.

But this is the killer part:

I went out on the Winter Dance Party tour [in the winter of 1959] with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson, known as the Big Bopper. It was minus 30.

On Feb. 2, after our show at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, the four of us were in the dressing room when Buddy said he had chartered a four-seater plane to Fargo, N.D., near our next stop. Flying would be much faster than freezing in the yellow school bus that we were using.

We flipped a coin a few times and the Big Bopper and I won. When I asked Buddy how much it was going to cost me to fly, he said $36. I froze. It was the same amount as the rent my parents had fought over when I was a kid. I felt guilty about spending that much, so I gave my seat to Ritchie. That night, the plane crashed just after taking off, killing everyone. It was heartbreaking.

Years later, my mom, who is now 102, apologized for fighting so much with my father. I said, “Don’t ever feel bad, Ma. Those arguments saved my life.”


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Carly to NYT: Drop Dead

It all started when the New York Times’s Mr. Dealbook, Andrew Ross Sorkin, wrote this knee-buckling takedown last week of Carly Fiorina’s tenure at Hewlett-Packard.

Representative sample:

[I]t is curious to those of us who have reported on her business career that there has not been a greater focus in recent days on her “track records and accomplishments,” as she suggested she should be measured by.

Even more striking, Mrs. Fiorina, the only former female chief executive among the candidates, continues to promote her business experience on the trail, yet she was fired by Hewlett-Packard after the company’s stock dropped by half in 2005. She has long blamed her failings at running the technology giant on the bursting of the dot-com bubble and the deepening recession in Silicon Valley after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Sorkin’s torch job only got worse from there.

So Fiorina hit back – via her Super PAC, Carly for America – with this full-page ad in yesterday’s Times Business section.


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The ad is an open letter from Tom Perkins, founder of the California venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and an ardent Carliac.

Sorkin is nuts graf:

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Campaign Outsider Official To Be Fair Sidebar®

To be fair, Fiorina’s PAC man never actually said drop dead to the Times, just as Gerald Ford never said drop dead to New York City in 1975, despite the iconic Daily News headline.

Via the – yes – New York Times.

Infamous ‘Drop Dead’ Was Never Said by Ford


Gerald R. Ford and Marie Antoinette did not have much in common, but being misquoted cost both of them their jobs.

In Hollywood’s latest biography of the French queen, she denies having callously suggested that breadless peasants eat cake instead. “I never said that,” the actress Kirsten Dunst pouts. “I wonder why people keep saying I did.”

Mr. Ford, on Oct. 29, 1975, gave a speech denying federal assistance to spare New York from bankruptcy. The front page of The Daily News the next day read: “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.”

Mr. Ford never explicitly said “drop dead.”

Not to get technical about it.

But the Fiorinistas aren’t just ticked off at the Times – they’re also railing against CNN.

From yesterday’s New Hampshire Union Leader (tip o’ the pixel to Politico Playbook):

GOP candidate Carly Fiorina blasts CNN debate process


Carly Fiorina is surging. Her supporters are elated. Her team, however, is out-and-out exasperated that CNN might keep her out of its main presidential debate.

The former Hewlett-Packard CEO’s campaign is also pointing fingers at the Republican National Committee. The RNC is putting its “thumb on the scale,” says Sarah Isgur Flores, Fiorina’s deputy campaign manager.

The CNN entry criteria for the Sept. 16 debate splits the field into two groups: the top 10 based on national polls and then those who register with at least 1 percent.

“Despite being solidly in the top 10 by every measure, the political establishment is still rigging the game to keep Carly off the main debate stage next month,” Flores contends in a Medium post.

The problem: CNN is using an average of national polls dating back to July 16, well before Fiorina’s surge in the wake of her happy-hour performance in the first GOP debate. Fiorina says that will give three times greater weight to polls taken before the Aug. 6 bakeoff.

Memo to Carly: Live by the numbers, die by the numbers, eh?

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Is Forest Whitaker Twice As Good As Al Pacino?

The hardworking staff noted with interest this item in yesterday’s New York Times Arts, Briefly column.

Forest Whitaker Will Make Broadway Debut

Forest Whitaker, the Academy Award winning film star, will 24ARTS1-master180make his Broadway debut next spring in a revival of “Hughie,” a short play by Eugene O’Neill. Mr. Whitaker, who won an Oscar for playing Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland,” will play Erie Smith, a hustler who confides in a hotel night clerk. The play, set in Manhattan in 1928, was written in the 1940s but was not staged on Broadway until 1964, when Jason Robards played Erie Smith; a 1975 revival starred Ben Gazzara and a 1996 revival starred Al Pacino.

The Missus and I happened to see that 1996 revival of Hughie with Al Pacino, which ran 50 minutes and cost $50.

Not surprisingly, we had never seen a play that cost a dollar a minute, and we vowed we never would again.

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, Pacino was mesmerizing and Paul Benedict as Charlie was terrific, as this Los Angeles Times review noted.

But still: The new production will cost at least two dollars a minute.


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Presidential Candidates: Want Free Ads? It’s a Snap(chat)!

The news media love to label things, and presidential elections are no exception.

So 2000 was the Hanging Chad Election, 2004 was the Internet Election, 2008 was the Facebook Election, and 2012 was the Twitter Election (with this dissent).

But the jury’s still out on whether the 2016 campaign will be the Snapchat Election.

Pro (via re/code):

The Snapchat Elections Begin With Bernie, Hillary and Jeb


In 2008, it was the Google election. 2012 was Twitter’s turn as the campaign centerpiece. Facebook populism rang in the 2014 midterms.

And now, as 2016 approaches, prepare for the presidential politics of Snapchat.

Enter Bernie Sanders, the lefty, 73-year-old Democratic contender chasing Hillary Clinton in the polls. On Friday, the honorable Independent senator from Vermont made his debut on the mobile app (though judging from his expression, he doesn’t look entirely comfortable with the medium yet).

Con (via Wired):

Sorry Snapchat, But You’re Not Winning This Election


EVERY ELECTION SEASON has its shiny new toy, and this year, Snapchat is most definitely it. We’ve already seen Rand Paul take a chainsaw to the tax code on Snapchat. Jeb Bush announced his campaign on the platform. And, most recently, Hillary Clinton cheekily gushed to Iowans about how much she loves Snapchat because “those messages disappear all by themselves.”

On the surface, having a presence on Snapchat makes these candidates appear forward-thinking and committed to connecting with millennials, Snapchat’s core demographic. And yet, even as candidates and their young teams play with the platform, behind the scenes, many of the digital teams on presidential campaigns say it’s far too early to dub 2016 the Snapchat election, as many in the media have already breathlessly claimed. Compared to other advertising platforms like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and most importantly, TV, they say, the ephemeral messaging app has a long way to go toward proving its worth.

The problem: “The fact is, Snapchat’s entire business model is built around keeping user data private, a fact one Republican digital strategist called ‘antithetical to advertising.'”

Especially political advertising, which is obsessed with data mining.

Regardless . . .

Here’s a sampling of the Snapchat ads so far in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Rand Paul’s shady arrival at the first GOP debate:



Paul’s America’s Liberty PAC flat tax ad:



John Kasich’s New Day for America PAC:



Hillary Clinton’s cringeworthy Just Chillin’ ad:



A couple of Scott Walker down (at) home ads:




Donald Trump, always the contrarian, seems to prefer Instagram to Snapchat.




More Trumpet blasts here.

Another fun fact to know and tell: Hillary Clinton has a Pinterest page.

Finally, here’s a helpful Newsweek chart of who’s where:




More, most assuredly, to come.

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The New ‘New Republic’ Has No Advertising

In the wake of the revolution/evolution at The New Republic last year, the hardworking staff has noted the Potemkin quality of the magazine, which is to say no advertising.

But in its current issue, the new New Republic has hit rock bottom.

It features exactly zero ads within its pages.

(To be fair graf goes here.)

To be fair, there is this sort-of ad on the inside front cover.

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And this actual ad (bleached-out screenshot – awkward!) on the back cover.

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But nothing in between.

Then again, given this table of contents, would you pony up for an ad?

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We’re placing the New Republic on the endangered species list as of . . . yesterday.

Boy publisher Chris Hughes: You’ve been warned.

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Claire McCaskill’s Fabulous Scott Brownout

New York magazine’s Marin Cogan has a corker of a piece in The Cut today (tip o’ the pixel to Politico’s Morning Score).

Drinking Beer and Watching Baseball With Senator Claire McCaskill — the Most Candid Woman in the U.S. Senate



Senator Claire McCaskill is shouting to no one in particular, though she is not alone: It’s the middle of July in St. Louis’s Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals are taking on the New York Mets. It’s hotter outside than the inside of a dog’s mouth. This has not deterred Missouri senator McCaskill, her husband, and her sister from coming out to support their beloved hometown team. The first batter up for the Mets has just sent a ball sailing out of the stadium — a home run. “That is not good,” McCaskill’s sister Anne, a silver-haired woman wearing electric-blue frames, interjects from our seats just behind home plate. The next batter lofts another ball high into the air. “Oh JESUS!” McCaskill shouts, then relaxes when a Cardinals outfielder catches the deep fly. Spying a waitress waiting to take orders at the end of the row, she leans over and calls for a Bud Select.

It’s a swell read – McCaskill seems to have no halfway house between her brain and her mouth – and never more so than here:

I’m about to ask her what she thinks of Scott Walker, but McCaskill has a question of her own. “What’s Scott Brown up to these days?” I tell her that the last I heard he was appearing as a guest on a celebrity cruise and pushing diet pills.

“No! Who goes on a celebrity cruise ship to see Scott Brown?” she scoffs. “Do people even know who he is? Wow. He will do anything to show his body.”

Not sure how we missed Brown’s participation in Crystal Cruise’s Crystal Visions Enrichment Program when it first surfaced last month, but thanks to Sen. McCaskill for the reminder.

And for, well, the cut.

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Evaluating E-Cigarettes Is a Drag

Splendid readers! The hardlysmoking staff could use your help in sorting this headscratcher out.

Over the past several days we’ve encountered two radically different reports on the relative merits/hazards of electronic cigarettes, and we can’t quite figure out which one is right.

Or if both are.

Start with this piece in The Guardian (tip o’ the pixel to the Daily Beast).

Vaping: e-cigarettes safer than smoking, says Public Health England

Government body says vaping can make ‘significant contribution to endgame of tobacco’ and raises concerns about length of licensing process

Vaping is safer than smoking and could lead to the demise of the traditional cigarette, Public Health England (PHE) has said in the first official recognition that e-cigarettes are less damaging to health than smoking tobacco.

The health body concluded that, on “the best estimate so far”, e-cigarettes are about 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and could one day be dispensed as a licensed medicine in an alternative to anti-smoking products such as patches.

Helpful chart:

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 12.04.23 AM

As far as e-cigs being a gateway to cigarette smoking, the PHE study says that kind of thinking is, well, vapid.

The review found that almost all of the 2.6 million adults in the UK now thought to be using e-cigarettes are current or former conventional smokers, most using them to help them quit tobacco or to prevent them going back to smoking.

There was no suggestion that the products were a gateway into tobacco smoking, with less than 1% of adults or young people who had never smoked becoming regular cigarette users.

But . . .

The same day, this report appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

Teens Who Use E-Cigs Found Likelier to Smoke

Ninth-graders who used electronic cigarettes were more likely to smoke cigarettes, cigars or hookahs than peers who never tried the battery-powered devices, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found.

The research is some of the first to address fear among health officials that e-cigarettes could become a gateway to traditional cigarettes. The results come as the largely unregulated $3.5 billion e-cigarette industry faces mounting criticism from health groups and lawmakers concerned about teens using the devices, which heat liquid nicotine into vapor.

The study focused on ninth-graders at 10 public schools in Los Angeles who had tried e-cigarettes before the fall of 2013. Researchers surveyed those students in the spring of 2014 and fall of 2014, and discovered that they were about 2½ times as likely as their peers to have smoked traditional cigarettes, five times as likely to have smoked cigars, and three times as likely to have smoked hookahs.

Helpful chart:

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 12.15.58 AM

So . . . what?

Teens are four times more likely to use real cigarettes? Or barely likely to move from vaping to flaming?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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Starbucks Is Not Just a Coffee Shop

You think the Seattle-based coffee chain is just a place to plant yourself, open your MacBook Air, and drink some overpriced Charbucks Latte?


Starbucks is not just another outpost in Laptopistan.

Starbucks is . . . a lifestyle brand.

A . . . culture broker.

Starbucks wants to be a player in the art world (see the ill-fated Starbucks Salon). In the film industry (Akeelah and the Bee, anyone?). In music with the Opus Collection (which one critic pointed out is actually the Collection Collection). In politics with Starbucks founder Howard Schultz’s goo-goo ads.

And in the book business.

From Tuesday’s New York Times (and Wall Street Journal):


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Nut graf:


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Everyone – Facebook, Google, you name it – wants to own popular culture.

Starbucks is getting its share.

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First White House Transgender Hire Is From Brookline

The nation’s much-heralded transgender moment has finally ascended to America’s Big House.

From the Washington Blaze:

In first, White House hires openly trans staffer


The White House for the first time has hired an openly transgender person as a member of its staff, LGBT advocates and the Obama administration announced Tuesday. Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who formerly served in trans advocacy as policy adviser for the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Racial & Economic Justice Initiative, has been appointed to a senior position in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. She’s set to begin her new role as an outreach and recruitment director in the Presidential Personnel Office on Tuesday.

But here’s the best part, via the Daily Beast: “Freedman-Gurspan was adopted from Honduras and raised in Brookline, Massachusetts.”

Can we get an Amen?

Okay, how about a mazel tov.

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