David Folkenflik

Geraldo Rivera of the Fox News Channel once described David Folkenflik as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, gave him a "laurel" for his reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.

Folkenflik is NPR's media correspondent based in New York City. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines and shows, including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Talk of the Nation. His reports offer insight into the operation of the media amid techtonic shifts in the industry and cast light on figures who help shape the way the news business works. NPR's listeners were first to learn how the corporate owners of the glossy magazine GQ sought to smother distribution of its provocative story about Russian Premier Vladimir Putin. They also found out, amid the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church, how a small, liberal Catholic weekly based in Kansas City had been documenting allegations of abuse by priests for a generation. Folkenflik provides media criticism on the air and at NPR.org on coverage of a broad array of issues — from the war in Afghanistan, to the financial crisis, to the saga of the "Balloon Boy."

Before joining NPR in 2004, Folkenflik spent more than a decade at the Baltimore Sun, where he covered higher education, Congress, and the media. He started his career at the Durham (N.C.) Herald-Sun. In 1991, Folkenflik graduted with a bachelor's degree in history from Cornell University, where he served as editor-in-chief of The Cornell Daily Sun.

A three-time winner of the Arthur Rowse Awards for Press Criticism from the National Press Club, Folkenflik won the inaugural 2002 Mongerson Award for Investigative Reporting on the News, presented by the Center for Media and Public Affairs and the University of Virginia's Center for Governmental Studies. Folkenflik's work has also been recognized with top honors from the National Headliners Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. He was the first Irik Sevin Visiting Fellow at Cornell and speaks frequently at colleges across the country. He has served as a media analyst on such television programs as CNN's Reliable Sources, ABC News' Nightline, Fox News' O'Reilly Factor, and MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

The news that sexual harassment allegations have cost Roger Ailes his job threatens to obscure Ailes' singular career and his almost unrivaled influence in the public sphere.

But no contemporary figure has done more to shape the intersection of American media and politics than Ailes, who, until Thursday, had been the Fox News chief since its very first day on the air in 1996.

In his long career, Ailes advised a succession of Republican presidents on how to gain power and maintain it — both on their payrolls and off the books.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The past few days may mark the moment at which the interests of Fox News and its charismatic chairman, Roger Ailes, diverge from those of its parent company, 21st Century Fox, and the Murdoch family that controls it.

Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes has been sued for sexual harassment by a longtime Fox News host and anchor who alleges her career suffered at the network because she refused his sexual advances.

Gretchen Carlson's contract at the network expired late last month after a long stint as the co-host of the morning show Fox & Friends and nearly three years hosting her own show in the afternoon.

The accusations are not subtle.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Media magnate Sumner Redstone quietly celebrated his 93rd birthday late last month. He subsequently marked the occasion by seeking to toss his protege off the board of the trust that will run Redstone's holdings after his death, including Viacom, one of the world's largest media conglomerates.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

So here we are. Noisily embraced by the plurality of Republican voters, not-so-quietly reviled by most Republican leaders, Donald Trump is all but assured that party's presidential nomination.

Journalists astonished at the result — and believe me, most are stunned by what has unfolded — find themselves confronted by some form of this question: Are the media to blame for Donald Trump?

A prominent columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the largest news organization in Nevada, resigned after being told he could no longer write about two of the state's biggest players, including his newspaper's new owner, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

"If I can't do my job, if I can't hold the heavyweights in the community to account, then I'm just treading water," the columnist, John L. Smith, told NPR in an interview. "It wasn't an easy decision to make, but there was no other decision to make — at least in my mind."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

For more than a generation, politicians have been on notice that political opponents would hold them accountable through deep dives into their records — a practice called oppo research.

This election cycle, candidates for the White House also have found themselves trying to dodge a buzz saw: BuzzFeed.

NPR is acting to clarify the role of longtime analyst and commentator Cokie Roberts after she co-wrote a syndicated newspaper column calling for "the rational wing" of the Republican Party to stop Donald Trump's march toward its presidential nomination.

Soon after its launch in 1986, the satirical magazine Spy picked Donald Trump as the brash embodiment of a crass age. Founded by Graydon Carter and Kurt Andersen, the magazine chronicled New York's obsessions with wealth and social status, zeroing in on Trump's questionable business dealings (of which there were many) and his outlandish personal traits (of which there were perhaps even more).

Last year, The Huffington Post assigned stories on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to the entertainment section, seeing him as a buffoonish diversion.

It now appears to view Trump as a threat, attaching an editor's note to the end of every article about him to inform readers he "is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, birther and bully."

I'm comfortable to talk about anything, Bob Woodruff says. I'm lucky to be alive.

In January 2006, Woodruff stood on the precipice of stardom as the new co-anchor, together with Elizabeth Vargas, of ABC's World News Tonight, the heir in many ways to the legendary globetrotting anchor Peter Jennings, who had died of cancer the previous summer.

Univision Communications Inc., the parent company to the nation's leading Spanish-language broadcast channel, has acquired a controlling stake in the satirical news site The Onion, NPR has learned.

The agreement between two seemingly disparate media outfits was described to NPR by a person with direct involvement in the negotiations. A second person who was briefed on the deal by Univision executives also confirmed its broad strokes. The amount of money involved in the deal was not disclosed. NPR has also obtained a memo from the CEO of The Onion announcing the deal to staffers.

The secretive sale late last year of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada's largest news organization, to the family of one of the wealthiest men in the country set off shock waves in that newsroom.

The vast financial and political interests of the billionaire casino magnate and major Republican donor Sheldon Adelson raise nettlesome questions about how the paper can cover him.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Donald Trump has changed the rules of engagement with the media and all on his own terms, driving his campaign through a sustained barrage of interviews on major TV shows, staging huge televised rallies and picking fights with his opponents on social media.

The media have been along for the ride, thankful for the ratings, reveling in a colorful character charting an unpredictable course atop the polls, and fearful of missing what might come next.

A story about a deadly terrorist attack briefly inspired a frenzied media scrum Friday morning in Southern California when dozens of reporters and TV news crews entered the home of the two shooters in the San Bernardino massacre.

The documentary The Hunting Ground, a searing look at the failure of American universities to grapple successfully with campus rape, has been embraced by CNN and shortlisted for next year's Oscars, while helping to sharpen the focus of college administrators.

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