That feeling you get, when you hear the president and his staff repeatedly take a hostile tone with the press? That's probably how Trump supporters feel when they see journalists responding to his rhetoric with tacit or even overt helpings of snark.
McBride often appeals to a notion of decorousness. Earlier this year, evaluating the media's coverage of Kobe Bryant's death, she wrote that she agreed with WNBA player Lisa Leslie, who said the media should be "more respectful" when writing about Kobe Bryant's death by not bringing up the fact that he was accused of rape. McBride, who effectively contended with the details of the rape allegation in her post, concluded that it was too late for media to effectively contend with the details of the rape allegation, and so journalists should move on:
There's no doubt that the president's tenor last night slightly reduced the sense of alarm raised by many of his critics.
Despite, or perhaps because of, this focus on courtesy, McBride is—like Poynter—vaguely esteemed among working journalists who know who she is. Sullivan described McBride as a "principled and positive voice" who is "rooted in what has served journalism over many decades." Lowery said he couldn't speak to McBride's body of work, but that he "appreciated" her recent NPR column on the hidden assumptions behind the phrase "unarmed black man," a rare instance in which McBride challenged the status quo. Former BuzzFeed editor in chief Ben Smith—currently the Times' media columnist—said, for his part, that he could "never quite figure out what her deal is."
Lisa Leslie is right. Those who celebrated Bryant's genius had 16 years between his public apology and his tragic death to tell a fuller story. The only option now is try and do better with other athletes.
Wiczyk and Satchu also hired executive Deanna Brown, who, Los Angeles reported, "clashed with Belloni over critical coverage." One point of conflict was a story about Jennifer Lopez, who has a business relationship with Valence Media:
When Satchu heard from sources close to Mnuchin about the story, he contacted Belloni in an effort to kill it, Belloni claimed on the conference call. The editor said Satchu asked him how far along the piece was. Belloni told him it was already printed. Despite Satchu's efforts, the story ran as planned, reporting on numerous allegations of questionable commingling of assets by Linton and Mnuchin, who financed films in Hollywood before joining the Trump administration.
McBride, who was hired to consult for the parent company in 2018 after Billboard suppressed a story about sexual assault, told the magazine, "I have advised MRC that it is ethical to influence editorial strategy. It is not OK to advocate for MRC's other business interests."
Brown also took exception to a January news article about Jennifer Lopez, who had recently returned as the face of Guess Jeans. The story referenced sexual harassment allegations made against Guess's cofounder Paul Marciano. Citing Valence's various business dealings with Lopez, Brown emailed Belloni: "We had an agreement that you would alert me to anything controversial—and this registers…as in the multiple touch points to JLO in the company.
Kelly McBride has helped to create policies that are rooted in core journalistic values and encourage everyone in the organization to embrace a process of critically thinking about issues and working through them in a collaborative fashion. She has helped assess and sharpen the tools we use to better understand our audiences and she's weighed in on specific stories, encouraging more thorough reporting. She has been an excellent teacher and advocate for best practices. She is unafraid to challenge the status quo in the executive suite or the editorial group.