Trump v. Tillerson; Kimmel v. Moore; today in leaks; Lauer update; Vice fires three staffers; Simmons out; "Reputation" is streaming

By Brian Stelter and the CNN Media team -- view this email in your browser!
Happy first day of December! (Can you believe it's December?!)

Vice fires three employees

SCOOP: Vice Media fired three employees on Thursday amid a probe into sexual harassment and improper workplace conduct. "The conduct of these employees ranged from verbal and sexual harassment to other behavior that is inconsistent with our policies, our values, and the way in which we believe colleagues should work together," according to an internal memo from Susan Tohyama, who joined Vice as the company's first global human resources officer four weeks ago. Vice did not name the employees. Here's my full story...

Looming NYT investigation

The Daily Beast recently published a detailed story about what it called Vice's "sexual-harassment culture." And the NYT has been working on an in-depth investigation into the company, as Tom Kludt recently reported... Tohyama's memo described a "zero tolerance" policy and outlined exactly how staffers can come forward with complaints... Here's the memo...
Keep scrolling for much more on this national TIPPING POINT, including the latest on Matt Lauer and Russell Simmons... But first...

Kimmel v. Moore

Frank Pallotta emails: Jimmy Kimmel is ready to take on Roy Moore. The comedian got into a Twitter spat with the Alabama Republican early on Thursday -- here's how it started -- and he responded to Moore on his show overnight.

Frank will have a brand new story on overnight...

"No minds will be changed..."

Brian Lowry emails: A quick word about the Kimmel-Moore dustup: It's fair to say that as entertaining as the back and forth might be, no minds will be changed, and the Alabama Republican can't really go wrong running against a late-night host who has become a darling of liberals...

On Trump and his fitness...

"How long are we going to ignore the signs?"

I'm noticing a new theme in the anti-Trump arguments on TV and on the web. Prominent commentators are saying: "We must talk about President Trump's stability now -- before it's too late."

Joe Scarborough on "Morning Joe" Thursday A.M.: "When are we supposed to say this? After the first nuclear missile goes? Is that when it's proper to bring this up in polite society? Tell me. General Mattis, when is it polite to bring this up in polite society? Rex Tillerson, when is this the right time to talk about a mentally unstable president in the White House and a nuclear showdown with another unstable madman in North Korea? Is it after the first nuclear missiles fly? When exactly is the right time, Steve Mnuchin?"

Eugene Robinson's latest column for the Post: "How long are we going to pretend that President Trump is fully rational? How long are we going to ignore the signs that he is dangerously out of control?"

Ezra Klein's latest piece for Vox is also about this. He tweeted on Thursday: "Sometimes I imagine this era going catastrophically wrong — a nuclear exchange with North Korea, perhaps — and historians writing about it in the future. You knew, they'll say. You knew everything you needed to know to stop this."

Tapper's take

Jake Tapper led his Thursday program with CNN's reporting that "officials at the U.S. State Department were so concerned about the anti-Muslim videos that President Trump retweeted yesterday, they told the White House they were actually worried that the president's actions might spark a reprise of violent protests at U.S. embassies in the Middle East."

In his intro, he quoted Trump's tweet to British Prime Minister Theresa May that "we are doing just fine."

"We are doing just fine," Tapper said. "That is, of course, unless you're in a U.S. Embassy bracing for violence because of the president's impulse control issues, I suppose, or if you're the parent of a Muslim American child and you're worried that the president's retweets of that bigotry might have some horrific action and response on your kid. Or if you're an American just worried about fundamental basic loss of decency by the president of the United States. Except for that, we're just fine..."

Today in scoops

 -- NYT: Over the summer, Trump pressed top Republicans to end the Senate's Russia probe...

 -- WashPost: "Trump tells confidants that a government shutdown might be good for him..."

 -- CNN: "No known evidence of assault in Border Patrol agent death, despite official statements..."

First came this NYT headline...

"White House Plans Tillerson Ouster From State Dept., to Be Replaced by Pompeo"

...And then came this

Ari Fleischer reacted with this tweet: "This is a disastrous leak. Whoever did it is not loyal to the President and it's harmful to the State Dept. This lack of discipline is a mess."
But then there were suggestions that the leak came from inside the White House. CNN's Michelle Kosinski scooped: "Reports that the W.H. has a tentative plan to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that emerged Thursday were an effort to express President Donald Trump's deep displeasure and publicly shame his secretary of state, a source with direct knowledge of the White House's thinking said Thursday. The hope from the White House, the source said, is to push out the plan to replace Tillerson and then 'wait for him to punch out...'" 

 -- The kicker: Trump is scheduled to have lunch with Tillerson and Mattis on Friday...
For the record, part one
 -- Charlie Warzel's latest: "YouTube Is Disabling Predatory Comments -- But Leaving Up The Predators' Accounts" (BuzzFeed)

 -- Congrats, Chris Ruddy: Newsmax has inked a distribution deal with Dish Network, so Newsmax TV now reaches 50 million homes...

 -- Time Inc. is selling Sunset magazine to Regent, a California private equity firm... (NYT)

 -- Colin Kaepernick is receiving Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, Ahiza Garcia reports... (CNNMoney)

Matt Lauer -- the day after

With regards to Matt Lauer and NBC, we're in between news cycles right now. Lauer released a remorseful statement at 7am Thursday -- timed to the start of the "Today" show, because he wanted to reach his former viewers -- and his apology drove most of the day's coverage. There were no new accusations leveled against Lauer on Thursday, at least none that I've seen...

Unresolved Q's

 -- Are there more stories in the works?

 -- Lauer's statement said "some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized." Which claims are untrue? His P.R. person declined to elaborate when I asked...

 -- There's no indication that NBC ever made settlement payments to Lauer accusers. Did Lauer ever pay any $$$ out of his own pocket?

 -- What about the $$$ he's owed according to his contract? Page Six says his lawyers are trying to land him a "$30 million golden sexual parachute." Is that true?

 -- Uhh, what about his farm in New Zealand?

"Not even a whisper"

Oliver Darcy emails: Jeff Zucker reacted on Thursday morning to allegations of sexual harassment against Matt Lauer. Speaking at BI's Ignition conference, the CNN chief said he finds the revelations "incredibly disturbing" and described the reported behavior as "deviant and predatory." Zucker said the behavior attributed to Lauer was "not something I was ever aware of" while executive producer of "Today" or president of NBC -- "not even a whisper of it."

How "Today" show viewers are feeling

This part of the story shouldn't be overlooked. Millions of viewers start their day with "Today," and there's a lot of disappointment and discomfort about his sudden ouster. My wife, my one-woman focus group about all things morning TV, brought this up on NY1 on Thursday. "I don't want to mourn his loss but... I do a little bit," she said, almost whispering. "He is a big part of peoples' lives." 

 -- Related: Tom Kludt and Jon Sarlin interviewed "Today" show fans on the plaza on Thursday morning... Read/watch here...

Social media shut-down

Donie O'Sullivan emails: Lauer, who was never an active user of social media, has shut down his Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. It's also possible these were controlled by NBC and the network decided to shut them...

"What will NBC do?"

Quoting Bill Carter's latest piece for CNN: "For the moment, the intense focus will be on what this means for NBC and the rain-maker of its news division. What will NBC do to try to preserve the lucrative -- and iconic -- 'Today' franchise? With the fantasy of a quintessentially American morning family sharing its breakfast with the nation now in tatters, maybe one answer is to go all in on one of the kinds of modern families: leave Dad as central figure out of the portrait, at least for a while. Maybe a group of smart, professional women can carry the load on the air. They do it plenty in real families."

Here's the full column from Carter...

"Seth Meyers Goes All In on Matt Lauer"

Here's a recap of Thursday's "Late Night," courtesy The Daily Beast's Matt Wilstein...

Simmons out

Chloe Melas emails: Russell Simmons said Thursday that he's stepping down from running his various companies. His announcement came shortly after screenwriter Jenny Lumet alleged in a column for THR that Simmons forced her to have sex with him in 1991.

Simmons released a lengthy statement apologizing but claimed her "memory of that evening is very different from mine..."

 -- Related: A few hours later, HBO announced that it is removing Simmons from the upcoming "All Def Comedy" stand-up special...

 -- Meanwhile, Simmons is still denying an accusation of harassment and sexual assault made against him by a model in the LATimes earlier this month...

Gold's take: A big difference between politicians and media A-listers

Hadas Gold emails: A question being asked a lot today is around why politicians accused of harassment aren't experiencing a swift downfall like the actors, journalists and people in the business world. Jim Rutenberg addressed this in his NYT column, saying "Politicians will not get the hook from the public stage if their core supporters will stick with them, provided that enough of them step into the voting booth," while "Journalists and news executives, on the other hand, must answer to their audiences -- which overwhelmingly comprise women for the morning shows hosted by Mr. Lauer and Mr. Rose. They must also take into account their shareholders, their advertisers, their staff members and their peers, who are the ones who have been aggressively digging into these stories."
I have something else to add -- politicians usually only have to face their job security on Election Day (save a forced resignation or more). Actors, reporters, and companies face their job security every day based on how the audience and the consumer responds. Maybe if politicians had to really answer to voters on a more regular basis beyond those approval polls, we'd see a different outcome?

Rape investigation of Harvey Weinstein stalled, accuser's attorney says

Here's the latest Weinstein scoop from Brynn Gingras: New York prosecutors looking into Paz de la Huerta's rape allegation against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein appear to have hit a wall despite receiving ample evidence to bring before a grand jury. The actress's attorney Carrie Goldberg says the case has failed to move forward even though police investigators believe there is sufficient evidence to present to a grand jury and prosecutors have met with her client twice and subpoenaed hundreds of financial, phone and therapy records. Read the full story...

Thursday's other developments

 -- NYT's latest: "Nine women accuse Israel Horovitz, playwright and mentor, of sexual misconduct." Notably, Horovitz's son, Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys, issued a statement saying "I believe the allegations against my father are true, and I stand behind the women that made them..."

 -- Also in the NYT, Bari Weiss questions the desire to "erase" the output of artists accused of sexual misconduct, suggesting that "scrubbing the culture of work produced by the complicated or compromised or conniving or criminal or contemptible is a practice with a chilling legacy..."

 -- Megan Thomas emails: In this piece, David Graham asks who survives a sexual harassment allegation within the realm of politics and looks at the disparate trajectories of Al Franken, John Conyers and Roy Moore...

 -- 🔌: I'll be on CNN's "New Day" with Bill Carter Friday around 6:40am...
For the record, part two
By Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman:

 -- Erik Wemple v. Tucker Carlson continues... (WashPost

 -- Head this way for inspiring stories of newsrooms and T-shirts, and gift ideas for the journalism nerd in your life... (Poynter, Poynter)

 -- NiemanLab writes about Cafébabel, a website that wants to bring together readers from all over Europe by publishing in six languages, with the help of community members who volunteer to translate and produce content in different countries... (NiemanLab)

 -- Pete Vernon rounds up the best advice on reporting on extremism from people who do it so well... (CJR)

Baquet responds

Oliver Darcy emails: Dean Baquet responded to criticism The New York Times received over the weekend for its profile of a Nazi sympathizer in America's heartland. Speaking on a panel with Marty Baron at the Ignition conference, Baquet said the condemnation The Times received "was the most ridiculous overreaction to a story." Baquet conceded the story could have "more clearly" stated it's purpose -- to show that neo-Nazis don't necessarily fall into traditional stereotypes -- but said that some of the attacks leveled against The Times came from people who "never have actually done much journalism." Baquet said such criticism was "too strong" and that the story was "not a mortal sin." Watch Baquet's entire response here...

The L.A. Weekly asks "Who Owns L.A. Weekly?"

Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman emails: The publication was recently acquired by Semanal Media, a private company created to purchase it, whose backers were never revealed. Semanal gutted the publication by laying off 9 out of 13 editorial staffers. This happens as media in the City of Angels is rocked by traumatic changes: LAist shut down and the LA Times just named a new EIC...

W.H. Christmas party for the press on Friday...

Oliver Darcy emails: On Wednesday, Trump attacked executives at NBC News, seemingly calling for the firings of Andy Lack and Phil Griffin, before peddling a baseless conspiracy theory about the 2001 death of an intern in Joe Scarborough' congressional office. I asked a spokesperson for NBC News whether the organization would still attend Friday's W.H. Christmas party in light of the attacks. (CNN is choosing to skip the annual event.)

NBC News said on Wednesday there would be no comment that day on the matter. So I followed up again. As of Thursday afternoon, NBC was still declining to comment...

 -- Darcy adds this question: How can journalists at NBC News mingle with the president after he called for top management at their network to be fired for supposed "fake news" and peddled a conspiracy theory about Joe Scarborough? Seems, uh, awkward?
For the record, part three
By Julia Waldow:

-- The owner of a parody fake news site apologized after publishing a false story that labeled Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the American soldiers killed in Niger, as a deserter, and said he plans to donate revenue from the article to a fund for Gold Star families. As Poynter's Daniel Funke sums up, "In short: A supposedly satirical fake news site apologized for making one of its stories too real. And that's pretty rare..." (Poynter)

-- Meredith is reportedly looking to "combine facilities" with Time Inc., but the latter's current lease isn't up until 2032... (THR)

-- Is HQ Trivia really the "future of TV?" Digiday explains why the live quiz app is so popular, and how it's bringing ad agencies together... (Digiday)

"You want Hillary news, you know where to go."

Oliver Darcy emails: Tucker Carlson said at the Ignition conference that he takes viral screen grabs showing him talking about obscure topics when other networks are discussing breaking news as a "badge of honor." Carlson added that he finds it "hilarious" that Twitter users believe they "should be my assignment editor." During the on-stage interview, Carlson also said he only finds Trump "moderately interesting" and joked about Fox News' obsession with Hillary Clinton: "You want Hillary news, you know where to go..."
The entertainment desk

Time for "Reputation" to stream

"Taylor Swift's latest streaming boycott lasted three weeks," the NYT's Ben Sisario reports. "Her new album, 'Reputation,' which had a blockbuster release three weeks ago, is expected to come to all major streaming services on Friday, according to four people with knowledge of the plans for the record who were not authorized to speak publicly about it. Withholding the album from streaming services was seen as a strategy for Ms. Swift to maximize sales in a rapidly declining market. If so, that strategy worked..."

Lowry reviews "The Shape of Water"

Brian Lowry emails: Guillermo del Toro pours his love of old creature features into "The Shape of Water," an intriguing love story between a mute woman and an aquatic stranger. The director has an avid following, but it will be interesting to see how many warm up to this slightly strange concept...

Jim Nabors, 1930-2017

Sandra Gonzalez writes: Jim Nabors, a singer and actor best known for his role as Gomer Pyle on "The Andy Griffith Show," has died, according to family friend and CNN affiliate KHNL-KGMB producer Phil Arnone. He was 87. Nabors died in Honolulu early Thursday "after battling health issues for some time," Arnone told KHNL-KGMB. Nabors' husband, Stan Cadwallader, was by his side...
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