Ideas Festival: Trump’s continued attacks on media are ‘crisis’ |

Ideas Festival: Trump’s continued attacks on media are ‘crisis’

Staff reports
Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post, Susan Page of USA Today, Brian Stelter of CNN, David Folkenflik of NPR, 1A radio host Joshua Johnson and Andrea Mitchell of NBC News speak at an Aspen Ideas Festival session titled, "Howe We Survive Attacks on Journalism" on Wednesday.
Carolyn Sackariason/The Aspen Times

A panel of veteran journalists agreed on Wednesday night that the attacks from the president and his administration on their profession is unprecedented and unwarranted.

Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today, said she has covered six presidencies and Trump is different than anything she’s seen before.

Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent and host on NBC News, said the media now has to treat Trump’s tweets as presidential statements. She added that there are consequences to his spontaneity and loose use of the facts.

“I’m not sure if it’s a psychological impediment or if it’s deliberate,” Mitchell said with a laugh. “Facts don’t seem to matter and that is why we are in this crisis of journalism.”

Mitchell and Page were part of a session at the Aspen Ideas Festival titled, “How We Survive Attacks on Journalism.”

This was before Thursday’s attack on a newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland. At a session Thursday night on women in journalism, Page opened with the tragedy. She noted that even with the deaths in the newsroom “and yet they are going ahead and publishing tomorrow. Our thoughts are with them.”

Other panelists included Brian Stelter of CNN; Jonathan Capehart, an opinion writer for the Washington Post; 1A host Joshua Johnson that airs on NPR and David Folkenflik, a correspondent for NPR.

Stelter said Trump is poisoning the American people by describing the press as the “enemy of the people.”

“The president is trying to destroy our news organizations,” he said, describing it as a crisis. “How are we going to get people back?”

Page acknowledged that the press has fallen victim to following the “bright, shiny object” with Trump’s daily antics instead of investigating policy changes at the EPA, for example.

“I think we need to be smarter about how we use our resources,” she said. “Watch the pea, not the shell.”

– Carolyn Sackariason

Facebook is for more friends, less news

The message that rang loud and clear from Facebook employees speaking at Aspen Ideas Festival on Thursday was that “friends and family come first” when it comes to what content users are seeing in their newsfeed.

If you’re an avid Facebook user, you might have noticed a shift in what’s showing up in your newsfeed since the start of 2018 and that the posts you’re seeing are skewed more toward your friend’s pictures of their new puppy over a news article. That’s because Facebook decided to get back to what Campbell Brown, the head of news partnerships at Facebook, said is “the essence of Facebook,” which is connecting people to their family and friends across the globe.

However, that doesn’t mean that Facebook is pushing news off the platform, instead they are investigating new ways to form better partnerships with news organizations and get people quality news that matters most to them.

“News is a little less than 5 percent of what’s on Facebook, but it’s still an important 5 percent,” Brown said at a panel session titled “Is the Future of Journalism Online and Will it be Supported by Tech Platforms?”

The panel was moderated by Joshua Johnson, the host of NPR’s 1A, and included Dylan Byers, a senior reporter at CNN, and Adrienne LaFrance, editor of

While the panel never quite came to a decision on where the future of journalism is headed, they all were firm in their belief that news is fundamentally important and necessary, but the media needs to continue to adapt (not just to Facebook’s algorithm whims) and figure out the best platform and way to give people the news they want when they want it.

“You have to find a way to sustain news,” Byers said.

– Rose Laudicina

Wal-Mart going bananas

It’s a safe bet to assume those taking in the Aspen Ideas Festival aren’t frequent fliers at Wal-Mart, which might explain why the company’s CEO elicited a few audible gasps when he revealed the Arkansas-based retail giant’s top selling item.

Toilet paper? No. Pepsi? Negative. Shotguns? Wrong. Moon pies? Try again.

The big-item at Wal-Mart actually is quite healthy and noted for its richness in potassium.

“We sold over $1 billion in bananas last year,” CEO Doug McMillon told interviewer David Rubenstein, the co-founder and co-executive chairman of The Carlyle Group.

Groceries and cleaning supplies make up Wal-Mart’s biggest sales, while 20 percent of its customers pay cash, McMillon told the packed audience Thursday at Paepcke Auditorium.

– Rick Carroll


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