The Sam Nunberg Show — Pitaro to lead ESPN — Ex-WSJ reporter’s ordeal — New NYT politics editor- POLITICO Media

 In Politics

SAM NUNBERG WANTED EVERYONE TO KNOW on Monday afternoon that he wouldn’t comply with a special counsel subpoena in the Russia probe. After Nunberg spoke to the Washington Post, MSNBC’s Katy Tur invited the former Trump campaign aide on air and he ended up staying for 17 freewheeling minutes. “The only thing I was thinking was what I wanted to ask him next,” Tur told me after.

— Nunberg would go on to dominate cable news over the next several hours in a half-dozen interviews that at times resembled interventions. Nunberg asked anchors live on television for legal advice and was questioned about his current mental state and stress level as well as whether he’s been drinking. He made bold claims — for example, that Robert Mueller knows Trump “did something” wrong during the 2016 election — and alleged without evidence that former Trump aide Carter Page colluded with the Russians.

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— And Nunberg got personal, calling Trump an “idiot” and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders a “fat slob.” He suggested he’d fight ex-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in a dark alley. He all but dared to be held in contempt of court.

— “They’re not going to send me to jail,” Nunberg told MSNBC host Ari Melber during an appearance stretching more than a half hour. “You know what, Mr. Mueller, if he wants to send me to jail, he can send me to jail and then I’ll laugh about it and I will make a bigger spectacle than I am on your TV show right now.” Melber said after he had “never been involved in an interview like this, on or off air.”

Good morning and welcome to Morning Media. After a dizzying series of interviews, Nunberg seemed to be walking things back a bit by Monday night. So we’ll see where he ends up. You can reach me at [email protected] or @mlcalderone. Cristiano Lima (@viaCristiano) and Daniel Lippman (@dlippman) contributed to the newsletter. Archives. Subscribe.

ONE OF THE STRANGEST media stories last year was the downfall of Jay Solomon, who was abruptly fired after nearly two decades at the Wall Street Journal amid reports that he was involved in a spy plane deal with a source who had also been a CIA-linked arms dealer. A mild-mannered journalist had apparently morphed into a James Bond character.

— Solomon writes in a candid, first-person account for the Columbia Journalism Review that he never tried to go into business with Iranian-American aviation magnate Farhad Azima. But he does admit making mistakes along the way, such as enjoying a free stay aboard Azima’s yacht in the south of France, not being clear with editors about his dealings with the source, and allowing for the perception among Azima and others that he might enter into a business relationship. The latter was suggested in hacked emails that triggered Solomon’s ouster.

— “In an age when every communication you have with a source, every conversation, and every text can be hacked, scrutinized, and used to discredit you and your work, it is more important than ever not just to be ethical, but to make sure that you take steps to ensure that you will appear to be even when your messages are stolen and misused by hostile powers,” Solomon writes. “It’s not just the end product of your journalism that has to be coated in Teflon, but every stage of your reporting. Process, as much as content, has to be beyond repute. If you err, as I did, it can cost you both your reputation and your career.”

** Morning media is a key resource for the nation’s communicators. Sponsor this newsletter and reach these stakeholders daily. Contact [email protected] to learn more **

DISNEY TAPS PITARO AS NEW ESPN PREZ: Jimmy Pitaro, a longtime executive for ESPN’s parent company Disney, was named as the sports empire’s new president Monday. Pitaro was widely seen as a favorite to land the gig after former chief John Skipper resigned in December after a battle with substance abuse, POLITICO’s Cristiano Lima reports. The eight-year Disney vet and former Yahoo Sports chief becomes ESPN’s eighth president, despite never having served directly for the network.

RYAN LIZZA WRITING FOR ROLLING STONE: Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo reports that the Penske-led Rolling Stone has approached Ryan Lizza, who lost his job at the New Yorker over what the magazine “believe[d] was improper sexual conduct.” Lizza has denied the allegation, and CNN, which investigated the matter, has allowed him back on air. During a staff meeting, “concerns were raised about how it would be perceived if Lizza were to work at Rolling Stone, and whether Lizza was ultimately a good fit,” Pompeo reported. Though Lizza wasn’t offered a full-time job, he is currently working on two freelance assignments for the magazine.


“I’m prepared to bet Special Counsel Mueller’s team already has Sam Nunberg’s emails.” [Preet Bahara]

“I only caught the very tail end of that… Nunberg interview, but that was bonkers even by today’s standards. And if you didn’t smell Roger Stone all over that prank, I can’t help you.” [Rick Wilson]

“Nunberg’s friends are legitimately worried about his mental state and he’s doing incalculable harm to himself on TV. At some point it’s unethical to keep the cameras rolling on him like this, whether he’s asking for it or not.” [Jonathan Easley]

“Nunberg TV is guaranteed to do two things – aggravate Mueller and infuriate Trump.” [Maggie Haberman]

AL JAZEERA UNDER PRESSURE TO REGISTER AS FOREIGN AGENT: The Qatar-based broadcaster is facing calls from several U.S. lawmakers to register under the sparsely-used Foreign Agents Registration Act, POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein reports. Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Lee Zeldin accused the media outlet of providing “favorable coverage of U.S. State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” State-funded Russian news agencies RT and Sputnik were similarly pushed to file for the designation last year.

PENTAGON SAYS MEDIA ‘COMPLICIT’ IF POSTING ISIS VIDEO: “The Pentagon is warning media outlets not to publish a video released by the Islamic State over the weekend purportedly showing a deadly ambush of American troops last fall in the African nation of Niger,” reports POLITICO’s Wesley Morgan. Col. Rob Manning told reporters Monday that news organizations would be “complicit in amplifying ISIS propaganda.”

WATCH: HBO’s John Oliver looks past NRATV’s news programming, which is “essentially just Fox News on a much lower budget,” to explore the gun-obsessed channel’s unusual cultural and lifestyle programming.

LISTEN: Recode’s Kara Swisher talks to new Washington City Paper owner Mark Ein.

SUBSCRIBE: CNN’s Dylan Byers has a new daily newsletter, Pacific, that focuses on innovation in the West Coast power centers of Silicon Valley, Hollywood and Seattle.

THE ATHLETIC STAFFING UP: The subscription-based sports site says it has raised $20 million and expects to more than double its staffing, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Ben Mullin. “By the end of 2018, the Athletic plans to have between 200 and 350 employees, up from its current staff of 120,” Mullin writes. “The company currently has a foothold in 23 markets across the U.S. and Canada, and plans to expand to roughly 45 markets by the end of the year.”

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