David Folkenflik

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Donald Trump's election early Wednesday as president — utterly unprecedented, utterly unexpected — caught the media flat-footed. The distance between the nation's political press corps and its people has never seemed so stark. The pundits swung and missed. The polls failed. The predictive surveys of polls, the Upshots and FiveThirtyEights, et al. with their percentage certainties, jerked violently in the precise opposite direction of their predictions as election night progressed.

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From pretty much the very start of this election season, Donald Trump grabbed the media by the press pass. He didn't even wait. As Trump, a former reality show host, once said in a slightly different context, "When you're a star, they let you do it."

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Boy, that escalated quickly.

Tuesday night's intense eight-minute exchange between Fox News host Megyn Kelly and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich demonstrated the current state of the election — and especially why Donald Trump appears to be shedding many voters, especially women.

The subtext proved if anything more striking.

AT&T's proposed $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner has cast renewed attention on the financial performance and journalistic independence of one of the media conglomerate's best-known possessions, CNN.

"You have to allow the organization to run independently," AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson tells NPR. "It's not an altruistic thing either. I mean, I personally think it's a smart business thing to do. If the customer ever believes that the news is being tainted by the opinion of myself or somebody else within AT&T, that's brand damaging."

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The whirling dervish that is Donald J. Trump spun ever-faster on Thursday, shredding almost everything in his range of vision — Hillary Clinton, his fellow Republicans who fail to support him unequivocally, the growing chorus of women accusing him of sexual misconduct, and especially the press.

It is one of the most recognizable shows on television — a mainstay for nearly a half-century, with a theme song promising, "Sunny day, sweepin' the clouds away."

Yet dark financial clouds have hovered over Sesame Street's parent company in recent years.

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Early last month, New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet told a crowd at Harvard University that he would happily face time in jail to publish Donald Trump's long-withheld tax forms.

Theoretically, Baquet just might have his chance. But almost certainly, only theoretically.

For all the changes wrought by the sexual harassment scandal that brought down former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, the Murdoch family that controls the network has held one goal paramount: to maintain continuity.

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Monday night's debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be the first time the two square off directly during this general election campaign. At such moments, the stakes are invariably characterized as high for the candidates, their presidential prospects on the brink of success or ruin.

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It appears that as far as the news media is concerned, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump sees Democrats everywhere. Even when they're not.

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