I wasn’t a failed DJ. I was pre-successful: this week on Fresh Powder

The lede

Donald Trump has tipped the scale with which we grade our politicians in that everything they do gets compared to him. He also makes these assessments himself. By commuting the prison sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, he’s measuring what he’s gotten away with against what Blago did and doesn’t see a problem. Anderson Cooper invited Blagojevich onto his show Friday night but as soon as Rod tried using the appearance to jockey for some political favor, Anderson was ready for it and put him in a prison of his past. “What’s sad is that you hadn’t actually learned that when you mattered, when you actually were the governor. You talk about working for criminal justice reform. There are a lot of people in Chicago, a lot of people in Illinois, who actually like spit up when you say that because when you were actually in power and actually governor, you could’ve helped thousands of people with clemency cases and you blew it off. The governor after you inherited a huge backlog, nearly 3,000 clemency petitions, that you failed to review; in fact, you were sued as governor by Cabrini Green Legal Aid to try to pressure you to actually pay attention to clemency cases instead of extorting people for money and campaign contributions. So it’s a little ironic and frankly a little sad and pathetic and hypocritical you talking about getting a commutation of a sentence, which is within the president’s right, but you ignored a whole hell of a lot of people who were hoping you might give them clemency when you actually mattered. I’d be happy to work with people on criminal justice reform, but I wouldn’t work with you.”

. . . Chicago Tribune: “With Democrats caught up in corruption probe, Illinois GOP appeared to have a ready-made campaign message. Then Trump freed Blagojevich.”


“Twenty years is a lot, and there have been hard times in my career as a photojournalist. But there are no words to describe the last two years. You give and you give, and the traumas add up, and eventually, I wondered if I owed this business any more of myself.” Joshua McKerrow: I reported through a mass shooting at my own newspaper. Now I’m taking a buyout.


Bernie Sanders, to have positioned himself as the leading candidate for the Democratic nominee for president so far, is doing something right, for sure. But not all of his winning tactics are idyllic. For instance, when was the last time you heard of Sanders, one of his campaign aids or one of his supporters attacking the media? Vanity Fair: “Sanders has long contended that the agenda of ‘corporate media’ doesn’t necessarily reflect the people’s needs, and his 2020 campaign has doubled as a rolling media criticism shop. On Twitter, Sanders’s speechwriter David Sirota, a veteran reporter, has become a one-man rapid-response machine; last week, he chided a New York Times reporter for downplaying Sanders’s victory in the New Hampshire primary. Several key campaign figures hail from the media’s left flank: deputy campaign manager Ari Rabin-Havt (Media Matters), national press secretary Briahna Joy Gray (The Intercept), and Shakir (ThinkProgress). Sanders himself has suggested that the Washington Post “doesn’t write particularly good articles about” him because of his efforts to raise the minimum wage at Amazon, the company founded by the newspaper’s owner, Jeff Bezos. He’s also railed against networks taking Big Pharma ads while on the debate stage.”


New Jersey’s largest online news source, NJ.com, is shutting down comments on its site permanently starting today, a shocking move that both eliminates the functionality going forward and removes all comments from existing articles. Kevin Whitmer: “It was never our intent, but we ultimately gave a small number of people a license to say things they would never say in their workplace or at their dinner table without the cloak of anonymity.” (I can only assume it has been very bad for a long time. It’s not a unique problem to NJ.com. Truly shocking.)

. . . On Twitter, replies to NJ.com’s announcement were, surprisingly, mixed.


There is no better sporting event than the Olympic Games: my column. For as long as I’ve had those two weeks this summer circled in my calendar, the idea now that they could be canceled is unfathomable. But, according to a senior member of the International Olympic Committee, there’s a real possibility the games in Tokyo could be called off, rather than moved or delayed, if the Coronavirus is not yet considered under control. “There is a three-month window — perhaps a two-month one — to decide the fate of the Tokyo Olympics.” (AP)

This also happened last week: Finally, a personal pronunciation victory to transport me from the “verboh” Vrbo hate train: Jif peanut butter is teaming up with Giphy to make it abundantly clear that Jif is not how you pronounce GIF. (I can’t do this. Be VRBO or be nothing.)