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Welcome to the “Articles of the Week.”  Here are the articles that caught our attention and may drive further conversation in the days ahead. These articles have relevance in the communications battle space and cover a variety of topics - PR advice/tricks of the trade, sports, national security, politics and plain old fun content.


Week of 17 Feb- 21 Feb


1 - National newspapers thrive while local outlets struggle to survive


By Sara Fisher, Axios


The inequity between giants like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and their local counterparts represents a growing problem in America as local communities no longer have the power to set the agenda for the news that most affects them.

2 - Beijing’s Great Leap Backward

Expelling Wall Street Journal reporters returns China to a darker age.


By Bret Stephens, New York Times


Several years ago, in an overheated room in Beijing, I was forced to endure a stern lecture from a Chinese foreign ministry official. My sin: As the editor at The Wall Street Journal responsible for the paper’s overseas opinion sections, I had apparently insulted the entire Chinese people by publishing the work of a “well-known terrorist” — the courageous Uighur human-rights activist Rebiya Kadeer.


3 - John Solomon columns on Ukraine ripped in newspaper’s internal investigation for conflicts and distortions

By Paul Farhi - Washington Post

In effect, the Hill said Solomon amplified an inaccurate and one-sided narrative about the Bidens and Ukraine that was fed to him by Giuliani, “facilitated” by businessman Lev Parnas, who was working with Giuliani at the time, and reinforced by Solomon’s own attorneys, who also represented clients embroiled in U.S.-Ukraine politics.


4 - The Crookedest Team in Baseball History

The Houston Astros cheated their way to a World Series title—and mostly got away with it.

By Rick Reilly, Author of Commander in Cheat

I want to attend every Houston Astros game this season with a trash-can lid and bang it every time one of their sign-stealing cheatballs comes to bat. I want to find Commissioner Rob Manfred and pelt him with Stay Puft marshmallows for his pillowy-soft punishment of the most crooked team in baseball history. Chicago Black Sox? Please. That scandal was eight players in one series. This was the whole team, and coaches, for two full seasons.

5 -  China tests its soft power in Southeast Asia amid coronavirus outbreak

By Keith Zhai and Patpicha Tanakasempipat, Reuters

According to a draft joint statement seen by Reuters, both ASEAN and China emphasized the “growing urgency and need for cooperation” in combating the virus outbreak and agreed to strengthen “risk communication”.







1 – Massive Fleet Changes Loom As Navy Briefs SecDef Esper 


By Paul McLeary, Breaking Defense, 11 Feb 2020


“Congress can’t want a bigger and stronger fleet more than the Navy and Marine Corps want a bigger and stronger fleet,” Rep. Mike Gallagher, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said today. “There’s a lot of confusion about the budget.”


That 2021 budget request has already come under fire from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and was labeled “dead on arrival” by Rep. Joe Courtney, chair of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee.


The proposal calls for a $4 billion reduction from last year’s shipbuilding budget, and asks Congress for $3 billion less overall from 2020, part of an overall reduction of 11 ships the Navy had planned to buy by 2025.


2 – Chairman of Iowa Democratic Party resigns after caucus catastrophe


By Adam Levy, Paul LeBlanc and Jeff Zeleny, CNN, February 12, 2020


“His resignation comes more than a week after the Iowa caucuses, marred by faulty technology and arcane rules, descended into chaos.


The state's treasured first-in-the-nation contest fell into turmoil as the reporting methods for the nearly 1,700 precincts broke down, halting the emergence of a clear winner and forcing a slow rollout of partial results. It took the party days to release the full count of votes and multiple campaigns highlighted errors in those counts after they were released, prompting the state party to agree to a partial recanvass of the results.”


3 - The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President


How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election


By McKay Coppins, The Atlantic Magazine, March 2020 


“After the 2016 election, much was made of the threats posed to American democracy by foreign disinformation. Stories of Russian troll farms and Macedonian fake-news mills loomed in the national imagination. But while these shadowy outside forces preoccupied politicians and journalists, Trump and his domestic allies were beginning to adopt the same tactics of information warfare that have kept the world’s demagogues and strongmen in power.”

4 - Transparency Is Killing Congress


Every institution needs an inner life—a sanctum where its work is really done.


By Yuval Levin, The Atlantic, February 9, 2020 


Congress isn’t doing its job. That much has become painfully clear in this century. Legislation barely moves, the budget process has not functioned properly in years, members of both parties are frustrated with their leaders, and the institution has long been surrendering its power to administrative agencies, presidents, and judges. But if Congress isn’t doing its job, just what exactly is it doing? Members aren’t sitting around. Their lives are frantic and intense. But how might we describe what they are busy with?


For one hint, consider Republican Senator Ted Cruz’s decision to launch a daily podcast for the duration of the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Trump. As his co-host, the conservative commentator Michael Knowles, put it on the first day of the trial: “Each night, the senator will head straight from the Capitol to our studio to give you a behind-the-scenes look into the impeachment trial and so much more.” The show, unironically entitled “Verdict With Ted Cruz,” soon topped the political-podcast rankings.


5 – The U.S. Navy is spending millions plotting the drone-enabled fleet of 2045

By: David B. Larter, Defense News, 13 Feb 2020 


The US Navy is requesting $21.5 million to fund a continuing study on what the Navy will look like in 2045 once its fleet of Ticonderoga-class cruisers and many of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers no longer rules the waves, according to budget documents released February 10.


The bulk of the requested funding will go toward future surface combatant studies that are funded this year to the tune of $33 million.


6 - Everything you need to know about MLB's sign-stealing scandal


By Bradford Doolittle, Jeff Passan and David Schoenfield,, 12 Feb 2020


Major League Baseball's sign-stealing saga is the biggest scandal in the sport since the steroid era.


As the fallout continues from the league's investigation and subsequent punishment of the Houston Astros -- along with its ongoing investigation of the Boston Red Sox – ESPN breaks down the latest penalties and revelations, and what they mean for the game going forward.


1 – Iowa Caucus Creates Historic Crisis for Iowa Democratic Party


By Nicole Schuman, PR Newswire


“Remember the simplicity of hanging chads?

It seems like 20 minutes ago, instead of 20 years that electoral mishaps corralled themselves within the state of Florida. Iowa made its mark on political history Monday evening. The Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) failed to deliver same-day Iowa Caucus results, a benchmark for those campaigning, and the first chance to win delegates toward the presidential nomination in July.”




2- Kobe Bryant's death transcends other news


By Neal Rothschild, Sara Fischer - Axios


“The tragic death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna became one of the most talked-about news events of the social media era, according to data from NewsWhipprovided exclusively to Axios. 

Why it matters: More people have engaged with the story over the past week than nearly every other major news story combined — illustrating that what breaks through in a saturated, splintered media landscape is unexpected, emotional news.

By the numbers: In the week after the Jan. 26 helicopter accident, stories about Kobe and Gianna generated 208 million interactions on social media — more than coronavirus, impeachment, the Super Bowl, the Iowa caucuses and the Grammys combined.”


3- The Environmental Burden of Generation Z


Kids are terrified, anxious and depressed about climate change. Whose fault is that?


By Jason Plautz, Washington Post Magazine


“The teenagers pour off buses near Denver’s Union Station under a baking September sun. Giggling with excitement at skipping out on Friday classes, they join a host of others assembled near the terminal. Native American drummers and dancers rouse the crowd, and there’s a festive feeling in the air. But this is no festival. The message these young people have come to send to their city, to their state, to the nation — to the world of adults — is serious. Deadly serious. “We won’t die from old age,” reads one of the signs they hoist above their heads. “We’ll die from climate change.”


4 – Key takeaways from Trump's State of the Union address


By Zachery Basu, Axios


“An impeached President Trump struck a defiant and hyperbolic tone in his third State of the Union address on Tuesday night, a day before he's set to be acquitted by the Senate. 


Inside the room: Tension permeated the House chamber from the outset. Trump snubbed a handshakefrom Speaker Nancy Pelosi, only to be met with a retaliatory slight of his own when Pelosi failed to apply the honorific language typically used to introduce presidents at joint sessions of Congress.


As Trump concluded his speech, Pelosi ripped up the transcript of his remarks. Trump exited the chamber without shaking her hand.”



5– Chinese Media Is Selling Snake Oil to Fight the Wuhan Virus

So-called traditional Chinese medicine will do more harm than good in fighting the crisis. 

by James Palmer, Foreign Policy


“As the new coronavirus continued its march across China this weekend, Xinhua, the nation’s official news service, advised a worried public to turn to herbal medicine. Shuanghuanglian, an oral remedy, sold out in stores across the country. 


The impetus for the Xinhua article came from a study supposedly conducted by two institutions, the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, using the principles of what the state calls traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), a major part of the Chinese medical system. 


State-backed TCM doesn’t include all traditional medical practices, it’s a very specific, state-backed set of treatments, theories, and drugs, many of which were invented in the 20th century.”


1 - Pompeo Called Me a ‘Liar.” That’s Not What Bothers Me.


By Mary Louise Kelly - NPR


Ask journalists why they do the job they do, and you’ll hear a range of answers. Here’s mine: Not every day, but on the best ones, we get to put questions to powerful people and hold them to account. This is both a privilege and a responsibility.


2 - What Happens When The News Is Gone?


By Charles Bethea - New Yorker


“I don’t care what you do, there’s always going to be someone that shows up saying, ‘I didn’t know about this.’ Because people want to be spoon-fed. And I’ve also learned over the years that no matter how much you publicize, how much you print, how much you provide, most people—not all, but most—don’t read it.” One of his expressions, he told me, is “Most people don’t want to be confused with the facts.”


3 - Echo Chambers Are Getting Worse


By Sara Fischer -


The big picture: It's not just news that polarizes us — it's our culture, too. Other studies out over the past year that suggest that the trend extends beyond news and information to entertainment and leisure.

4 - ABC Suspends Reporter for Inaccurate Report on Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash: TRAINA THOUGHTS


By Jimmy Traina - Sports Illustrated


"Reporting the facts accurately is the cornerstone of our journalism,” an ABC News representative said to the L.A. Times. “As he acknowledged on Sunday, Matt Gutman’s initial reporting was not accurate and failed to meet our editorial standards.”


5 - Trump allies are handing out cash to black voters


By Ben Schreckinger


The organizers say the events are run by the book and intended to promote economic development in inner cities. But the group behind the cash giveaways is registered as a 501(c)3 charitable organization. One leading legal expert on nonprofit law said the arrangement raises questions about the group’s tax-exempt status, because it does not appear to be vetting the recipients of its money for legitimate charitable need.


1 – Engagement isn’t Viewership


By Kendall Baker, Axios


“The NBA has embraced social media as a way to drive fan engagement, and it's working. Problem is, "engagement" isn't "viewership," and what plays well on social media doesn't necessarily make fans want to tune in to the games.


Driving the news: In the two months since we were first made aware of the NBA's declining TV ratings, all kinds of theories have been posed to explain the dip.”


2 – America's hardest places to grow up

By Erica Pandey, Axios


“The big picture: In a new report, researchers at Brandeis University used several factors — such as poverty rate, employment statistics and acres of green space — to assign opportunity scores (ranging from 1 to 100) to all 72,000 neighborhoods in the country. 


  • The hardest place to grow up is Bakersfield, California, where more than half of residents under 18 live in low-opportunity neighborhoods. The best is Madison, Wisconsin.

  • Cities in the South generally have lower scores than those in the Northeast.”

3 - What does impeachment show the world? America’s stability.


By David Ignatius, Washington Post


“Since Watergate, presidents and their aides have warned that impeachment is destabilizing to foreign policy. But history suggests otherwise. Presidential scandals create uncertainty abroad, but the impeachment process itself seems to bring clarity and resolution.

Keep this lesson in mind this week as the Senate begins its trial of President Trump. The president’s advocates will argue (as he himself has already) that impeachment and trial are harmful to America’s image abroad and derail normal foreign policy. But the evidence doesn’t support that dire view.”

4 - Naming a future flattop after Doris Miller was right and just


By Capt. Lawrence Brennan (retired), Navy Times


“A future U.S. Navy aircraft carrier will be named Doris Miller, the first African American sailor to receive the Navy Cross for heroism during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.


It’s not the first warship to honor the warrior cook. On June 30, 1973, the Knox-class destroyer escort Miller was commissioned.  Two years later, the warship was reclassified as a frigate and served through the Cold War, a constant reminder to the fleet of his heroism.”


5 - This is why you should have your own personal communication style

To be an effective communicator, a leader must have good emotional intelligence—and follow these few simple steps. 


By Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company


“When it comes to most problems, you can often trace the root cause to a breakdown in communication. Something said the wrong way, or not at all, can lead to assumptions that create unnecessary challenges. So wouldn’t it be great if more of us focused on improving our personal communication style?


‘The people who are good communicators also have intellectual and emotional intelligence,’ says Jack Modzelewski, author of Talk is Chief: Leadership, Communication, and Credibility in a High-Stakes World. ‘They’re very in tune with others, whether they’re talking to one person, a small group, or an audience of many.’”


6 - Baseball’s Existential Crisis


By Doug Glanville, New York Times


“We all search for relevance.  To a baseball player, it often begins in a dream. My dream was brought to life in any game against my big brother in Wiffle ball. The bases were always loaded, there were always two outs and the big game was forever on the line. It was about more than just being the hero. It was about reaching the pinnacle of the sport.


In baseball, that pinnacle is the World Series. And it is not just a matter of getting there. You need to win it.  What are you willing to do to be relevant?”



1 - New Mets manager Beltrán out amid sign-stealing scandal

By Mike Fitzpatrick - AP


Beltrán told the New York Post in a text message he was “not aware of that camera.” He told The Athletic the Astros “took a lot of pride” in studying pitchers via computer before games but insisted “that is the only technology that I use.” He said he didn’t consider his actions cheating.

2 - Trump’s trial begins, senators vowing ‘impartial justice’

By Lisa Mascaro - AP

Eventual acquittal is expected in the Republican-controlled Senate. However, new revelations are mounting about Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.

The Government Accountability Office said Thursday that the White House violated federal law in withholding the security assistance to Ukraine, which shares a border with hostile Russia.


3 - DHS has requested Pentagon assistance to build 270 miles of border wall

By Ryan Browne and Geneva Sands - CNN

In order to pay for hundreds of miles of additional border wall, the Defense Department will likely have to divert funds from other military accounts in order to provide adequate funding, something it did previously to pay for $2.5 billion of wall that was authorized via the counter drug account. There is a relatively small amount of money in the Pentagon's counter-drug account.

4 - U.S. chief justice faces unfamiliar glare of spotlight at Trump trial

By Lawrence Hurley - Reuters

His hand shaking slightly as he held a sheet of paper, Roberts then swore in the senators as jurors. The senators raised their right hands and swore to “do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.”

5 - New Orleans police issue arrest warrant for Browns' Odell Beckham Jr.

By Jake Trotter, ESPN

"We are aware of the situation regarding Odell Beckham Jr. interacting with LSU student-athletes and others unaffiliated with the team following the championship game Monday night," the LSU statement said. "Initial information suggested bills that were exchanged were novelty bills. Information and footage reviewed since shows apparent cash may have also been given to LSU student-athletes.

Good Reads...

1 - Black Britons Know Why Meghan Markle Wants Out


It’s the racism.


By Afua Hirsch – New York Times


“The British press has succeeded in its apparent project of hounding Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, out of Britain. The part it perhaps didn’t bargain for, however, is the loss of Prince Harry — a much loved royal and a key part of the family’s global brand — along with her.


In a statement released this week, the couple said they want to ‘carve out a progressive new role’ within the royal family and will ‘step back as senior members, and work to become financially independent.’”

2 - 2020 could be a defining year for the cannabis industry

By Alicia Wallace, CNN Business

 “2019 was a momentous year for the cannabis industry: Hemp-derived CBD had a heyday, Illinois made history, California got sticky, vapes were flung into flux, and North American cannabis companies received some harsh wake-up calls.

2020 is gearing up to be an even more critical year.”



3 - For a Larger Fleet: An Open Letter to the President 


By Bryan McGrath 

CDR Salamander – Blog


“A larger fleet will not build itself - especially a reach through the headwinds of the next decade to 355. To do so will not just take words, it will take vision, leadership, and substantial investment.  Nothing will happen without strong consistent Presidential leadership, supporting senior personnel, and emphasis that this is a priority.”


4 - Trump Has Made Us All Stupid


The decline of discourse in the anti-Trump echo chamber.


By David Brooks – New York Times


“Donald Trump is impulse-driven, ignorant, narcissistic and intellectually dishonest. So you’d think that those of us in the anti-Trump camp would go out of our way to show we’re not like him — that we are judicious, informed, mature and reasonable.

But the events of the past week have shown that the anti-Trump echo chamber is becoming a mirror image of Trump himself — overwrought, uncalibrated and incapable of having an intelligent conversation about any complex policy problem.”


5 - 'Captain Marvel' Effect? Air Force Academy Sees Most Female Applicants in 5 Years


By Oriana Pawlyk –


“When the Brie Larsen blockbuster "Captain Marvel" rolled out earlier this year, the Air Force launched an all-out recruiting effort, hoping to capitalize on the story of female fighter pilot-turned superhero Carol Danvers.

The Air Force placed pre-show ads in more than 3,600 theaters nationwide, bought space at geek hubs such as, and hosted its own press events with Larsen, as well as a red-carpet screening in Washington, D.C.

From at least one perspective, the Air Force effort to hitch its wagon to Captain Marvel's star was an unreserved success.”