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 tectonic 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.

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NPR Story
4:12 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

New York Times Plans To Sell 'Boston Globe'

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 5:11 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

The Grey Lady is shedding more of its assets. This afternoon, The New York Times Company announced that it intends to sell The Boston Globe and other properties it owns in New England.

For more on this, NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik joins me from our bureau in New York. And, David, what can you tell us? Why this sale, and why now?

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Media
4:30 am
Fri January 18, 2013

Media Circus: The Football Star And The Will To Believe

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o speaks Nov. 29 after he received a sportsmanship award from the Awards and Recognition Association in South Bend, Ind.
Joe Raymond AP

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 9:05 am

One of the top collegiate football players in the country, Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, was lionized by the media amid stories of his perseverance on the field after both his grandmother and his girlfriend died.

Thanks to an expose by Deadspin, the girlfriend's very existence is now believed to be a hoax, throwing the Heisman runner-up and his university on the defensive.

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Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
3:26 am
Tue December 18, 2012

Coverage Rapid, And Often Wrong, In Tragedy's Early Hours

Flowers, candles and stuffed animals make up a makeshift memorial in Newtown, Conn., on Monday. Much of the initial news coverage of Friday's events was later found to be inaccurate.
Eric Thayer Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 1:09 pm

Nearly everyone reported so many things wrong in the first 24 hours after the Sandy Hook shootings that it's hard to single out any one news organization or reporter for criticism.

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Media
5:17 pm
Mon November 12, 2012

Conservative Media Caught in the Blame Game

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 6:08 am

In the wake of last Tuesday's elections, a lively debate has erupted into the open over whether conservatives and the Republican Party were well-served by their favorite media outlets.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney was reported to have been so certain of a victory on Tuesday night that he cast aside tradition and did not draft a concession speech. But conservatives now say his misplaced confidence — and theirs — were bolstered by the predictions of many like-minded pundits, which were broadcast and posted online around the clock by sympathetic news outlets.

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Election 2012
4:10 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Media Circus: Fox Struggles With Obama's Win

Click here to watch the interview." href="/post/media-circus-fox-struggles-obamas-win" class="noexit lightbox">
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly walked down the hallway to ask the Fox decision team to explain the reasoning behind its Ohio call, which contradicted Rove's analysis. Click here to watch the interview.
Fox News

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 2:10 pm

Imagine a ballot Tuesday that confronted you not with a choice between candidates named OBAMA and ROMNEY, but that looked more like this:

How much do you support the REPUBLICAN?

Pick only one.

Utterly _____

More than that ____

For much of Election Day, that was what viewers encountered in watching Fox News' coverage. President Obama was, in the words of Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy at the outset of the day, a guy who "promised hope and change — a lot of stuff — and he didn't deliver."

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Media
10:18 am
Sat October 27, 2012

Sexual Abuse Scandal Rocks U.K.'s BBC Network

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The BBC, one of the world's most prominent broadcasters, is in an uproar over allegations that one of its most famous TV personalities was a pedophile who preyed upon youths who appeared on his shows. As NPR's David Folkenflik reports, the BBC is both investigating the actions of the late Jimmy Savile and fielding sharp questions about why it killed a documentary exploring such accusations late last year.

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Media
4:53 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Newspaper Endorsements: Prized, But Often Ignored

The power of newspaper endorsements has faded, but candidates still compete for them.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 8:02 pm

This weekend, a slew of newspapers in key swing states including Ohio are expected to release their endorsements for the presidency and other elected positions.

Such external validation is highly prized by candidates, but it's no longer entirely clear why.

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It's All Politics
11:44 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

Media Circus: Tone Trumps Content In Final Debate

President Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney walk away after they greet each other at the end of the third presidential debate in Boca Raton, Fla., on Monday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 11:55 pm

For most American viewers, including this one, much of Monday night's presidential debate on foreign policy was conducted as though it were in a foreign language.

References to Mali, to former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, missile shields in Poland, "status of forces" agreements — could only have befuddled the voting public.

It's not that the candidates invoked unimportant issues. And it's not that the two held so elevated a conversation mere mortals could not understand. It's that they were debating almost entirely in tone rather than content.

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Media
3:59 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

After 80 Years In Print, 'Newsweek' To Go All Digital

Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of Newsweek, announced Thursday that the 80-year-old newsmagazine will publish its final print edition on Dec. 31 and shift to an all-digital format in early 2013.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 7:00 pm

Newsweek editor Tina Brown announced Thursday she would embrace a fully digital future as she revealed that the magazine's final print edition would be published at the end of the year.

Her announcement was a bow to gravity, as her unique blend of buzz and brio proved incapable of counteracting Newsweek's plummeting circulation and advertising amid an accelerating news cycle. Brown said there would be an unspecified number of layoffs as well.

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It's All Politics
11:56 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Media Circus: Candidates Brawl, Pundits Reverse Course Yet Again

CNN's Candy Crowley moderates the second presidential debate between Mitt Romney and President Obama at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Tuesday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 1:57 pm

Pundits fretted that the town hall format for Tuesday's presidential exchange would yield tepid results: undecided voters posing questions over 90 minutes with little more than a passing touch from the moderator, CNN's Candy Crowley.

Boy, was that a misplaced fear. "So much for the analysis this would not be confrontational," Fox News anchor Bret Baier said in the moments after the debate.

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It's All Politics
12:06 am
Fri October 12, 2012

Media Circus: Who Won? The Moderator

Vice President Joe Biden speaks as Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and moderator Martha Raddatz listen during the vice presidential debate at Centre College on Thursday in Danville, Ky.
Michael Reynolds Pool/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 11:51 am

Atmospherically, the vice presidential debate pitted old versus new. Vice President Joe Biden lives in a world where no lily goes ungilded, and every 'lative is super. Rep. Paul Ryan speeds through campaigning energetically, like the heroic train in the new movie Atlas Got Cut Using the P90X Workout.

And the moderator Martha Raddatz? She came out guns blazing. No avuncular, passive Jim Lehrer she.

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Media
2:27 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Advice For Moderators: Keep Order, Out Of Spotlight

Moderator Jim Lehrer gestures before the presidential debate at the University of Denver last week. Moderators must finagle answers out of sometimes-dodgy politicians and keep control, all without seeming to get in the way.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 6:58 am

PBS' Jim Lehrer came in for widespread criticism last week for failing to control the first presidential debate. Now, moderator Martha Raddatz is confronting partisan criticism in the lead-up to Thursday night's vice presidential debate, the first and only direct confrontation between Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Joe Biden.

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It's All Politics
12:13 am
Thu October 4, 2012

Lights, Camera, Action (zzzz), Tweet!

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama shake hands at the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 11:47 am

I have spent the past few days sequestered with a crack team of political pros — actually, curled into a fetal ball, clutching a fading 1980 John Anderson poster — to gird myself for the vital first debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

So many questions lingered:

Would Romney offer to wager Obama $10,000 on who wins the race?

Would Obama tell Romney, "You're taxable enough, Mitt"?

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Election 2012
4:24 am
Tue October 2, 2012

The Politics Of Election Polls

Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 12:08 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

President Obama has held a lead over Mitt Romney in the polls for several weeks now, and that's prompted a conservative reaction. Some are charging that big media outlets are intentionally designing their polling to make it look like the president is getting the kind of voter surge he had in 2008. NPR's David Folkenflik has the story.

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Media
4:11 am
Fri September 21, 2012

Smaller Audience, Bigger Payoff For Glenn Beck

Since leaving Fox News in 2011, Glenn Beck has found his way back to TV. His Internet television network, The Blaze TV, is now available to subscribers of the Dish Network.
Kris Connor Getty Images for Dish Network

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 2:43 pm

By the time Glenn Beck left the Fox News Channel in June 2011, both sides seemed ready, even eager, to part ways. Beck announced he would move on to bigger and grander ventures with his own production company, Mercury Radio Arts, but some media critics, such as Variety's Brian Lowry, shrugged then and since.

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Media
5:44 am
Wed August 15, 2012

The Next Frontier In TV: English News For Latinos

Millions of Americans rely on Univision anchor Jorge Ramos to tell them about the news, but his children aren't among them. Like many Latinos who've grown up in the U.S., they get their news in English.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 11:15 am

This is the third in a three-part series about major American networks trying to appeal to a broader Latino audience.

Jorge Ramos has a humbling problem.

He is one of the best-known Hispanics in the U.S. and a respected news anchor for the Univision networks on which millions of Americans routinely rely.

And yet, in Ramos' telling, his 14-year-old son, Nicolas, and his 25-year-old daughter, Paola, don't watch his newscasts.

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Media
3:07 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Eyeing Latinos, NBC News Snuggles Up To Telemundo

Telemundo anchor and reporter Jose Diaz-Balart made a notable, if fleeting, appearance during NBC's Republican primary debate last summer. This past June, NBC News and Telemundo announced they would be collaborating on the rest of their 2012 election coverage.
Steve Mitchell AP

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 8:47 am

This is the second in a three-part series about major American networks trying to appeal to a broader Latino audience.

Every morning at 11:45, NBC News officials hold a conference call with their counterparts at sister networks to sort through stories of interest. Among those on the line are executives at CNBC, MSNBC and The Weather Channel; digital news editors; and executives at Telemundo, a Spanish-language broadcast network.

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Television
3:43 pm
Fri July 20, 2012

MSNBC Gets Academic: Meet Host Prof. Harris-Perry

Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC's newest host, is a Tulane professor with a Ph.D. in political science from Duke. She hosts the two-hour Melissa Harris-Perry show, which airs on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Eliot Kamenitz The Times-Picayune /Landov

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 5:56 pm

Cable news channels tend to treat intellectuals gingerly — as fragile curiosities or as targets for ridicule — when they appear at all.

Not MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry. This newly anointed cable host commutes 1,300 miles each week for her eponymous program of opinionated conversation, interviews and essays that runs live for two hours each Saturday and Sunday morning.

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Election 2012
3:30 am
Mon July 16, 2012

Romney Responds To Obama's Bain Capital Charges

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 6:04 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Until this past weekend, Romney generally ignored invitations to be interviewed, except on Fox News. Then on Friday night, he did a series of TV talks defending his work at Bain Capital.

NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik was watching.

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News
3:39 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Fake Bylines Reveal True Costs Of Local News

Newspapers acknowledged publishing dozens of items in print or online from outsourcing firm Journatic that appeared under fake bylines. The Chicago Tribune, for example, said the matter is under investigation. But the newspaper's corporate parent, the Tribune Co., is a new investor in Journatic.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

Originally published on Fri July 6, 2012 11:10 am

Major newspapers in Chicago, Houston and San Francisco are among those this week that have acknowledged they published dozens of items in print or online that appeared under fake bylines.

As was first disclosed by the public radio program This American Life, the items in question were not written by reporters on the staffs of the papers at all but by employees of what is effectively a news outsourcing firm called Journatic.

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NPR Story
3:13 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Media Get Health Care Ruling Wrong, At First

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 6:32 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. On the biggest story of the day, one of the biggest of the year, two leading television news channels got it wrong. CNN and Fox News mistakenly and repeatedly told viewers that the linchpin of the health care law had just been struck down by the Supreme Court. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik breaks down the reporting breakdown.

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Media
3:20 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

News Corp. Contrite In Wake Of Scathing Report

An influential group of British lawmakers says Rupert Murdoch, shown above with his son James (left) last July, is unfit to lead his global media empire. The scathing report also says his company misled Parliament about the scale of phone hacking at one of its tabloids.
Sang Tan AP

Originally published on Tue May 1, 2012 4:04 pm

News Corp. executives Rupert and James Murdoch can give a small sigh of relief, perhaps, that U.K. lawmakers investigating the tabloid hacking and bribery scandal did not conclude they misled Parliament in earlier testimony.

But that may be just about the only relief the Murdochs receive.

The scathing report accuses the company and several of its former top British executives of lying to Parliament and of seeking to cover up widespread phone hacking, computer hacking and bribing of government employees.

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NPR Story
3:47 am
Fri April 20, 2012

Murdoch's News Corp. Faces New Legal Threats

Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 5:46 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

And I'm Lynn Neary.

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Media
2:17 am
Thu April 12, 2012

Huckabee Pledges More Civil Alternative To Limbaugh

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says his new radio show will be more "conversation and less confrontation."
Gary Kline

Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 9:22 am

Mike Huckabee fell short four years ago in his quest to become the Republican presidential nominee. As of this week, the former Arkansas governor has a new job: national radio talk show host.

The Mike Huckabee Show started Monday with an anticipatory flourish.

"Welcome to the community of conversation. You've just made a right turn, and you've arrived at the corner of conservatism and common sense," he said. "In this show, we're going to be confronting the issues — not the listeners."

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Remembrances
10:56 am
Sun April 8, 2012

Veteran Newsman Mike Wallace Of '60 Minutes' Dead

60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace died on Saturday night, according to a CBS spokesman.
Peter Freed AP

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:53 am

The urbane Mike Wallace, a CBS News correspondent equally at home questioning con men, celebrities and chiefs of state, died Saturday in New Canaan, Conn. He was 93.

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Media
5:19 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

News Corp. Coverage: A Climate Change Case Study

News Limited is the Australian arm of Rupert Murdoch's newspaper empire.
Tim Winborne Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri April 6, 2012 6:27 pm

Part 4 of four

Some weeks ago, I paid a visit to an eggshell-blue house in Newtown, a neighborhood on the west side of Sydney, to Wendy Bacon and her husband, Chris Nash.

As we sat on the porch of their book-lined home, they pointed with pride to the Australasian trees and blooms defining their interior courtyard.

And then Bacon delved into her own harvest: the results of a case study about how the country's newspapers handled a pressing and contentious issue.

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Media
3:04 am
Fri April 6, 2012

Murdoch's 'Australian': A Powerful Player

A jogger runs past a banner for The Australian, part of Rupert Murdoch's newspaper empire, in Sydney last year.
Tim Wimborne Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri April 6, 2012 2:14 pm

Part three of four

Robert Manne, one of Australia's top public intellectuals and journalists, tells me the first thing to know about The Australian.

"It is by far the most detailed paper in regard to national politics," he says. "And it's also at a higher level of analysis, in general, than the other papers."

Second, he says, the paper is "smarter, sharper" than the others — with more resources and fewer profit demands to boot. Manne explains why:

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Media
3:31 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

Murdoch's Unrivaled Hold On The Australian Press

Between 6 and 7 of every 10 copies of national and metro papers sold in Australia are owned by News Ltd., News Corp.'s Australian newspaper arm. The company owns The Australian and The Daily Telegraph; while The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald are owned by rival Fairfax Media.
Rick Rycroft AP

Step up to any newsstand in Australia, like the one in Melbourne's Central Business District, and ask who Rupert Murdoch is, and you might get an appraisal like this one from Tom Baxter, an officer with a local disability foundation: "Long time in newspapers, ruthless; dedicated to their craft; a global citizen."

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Media
2:49 am
Thu April 5, 2012

The Roots Of An Empire: Rupert Murdoch's Australia

Rupert Murdoch takes over the Daily Mirror, a Sydney tabloid, in May 1960. Sometimes soft-spoken, but invariably hard-driving, Murdoch acquired major papers in every Australian state. He bought TV stations and established the first truly national daily.
Keystone Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 6:44 am

First of four parts

Ultimately, all roads lead home for Rupert Murdoch.

"The story of our company is the stuff of legend: from a small newspaper in Adelaide to a global corporation based in New York, with a market capitalization of about $44 billion," he said last October, when he addressed a News Corp. shareholders meeting in Los Angeles.

Australians view the company's history differently.

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The Two-Way
2:03 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

A Scoop, Really? BuzzFeed, Breitbart.com Spar For Credit On Obama Video

A still frame from a video shot in 1990.
Frontline

Last night a bewildering debate broke out on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight over video posted online yesterday of a young Barack Obama speaking at a student protest at Harvard Law School more than two decades ago.

The debate focused on whether the new BuzzFeed website or Breitbart.com deserved credit for the scoop.

My bewilderment stemmed from the question of why anyone would consider this video to be a scoop at all.

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