Mueller's questions; WHCA dinner debate; who's the "idiot;" Enquirer intrigue; AT&T closing arguments; Judd suing Weinstein; Tony noms on Tuesday

By Brian Stelter and CNN's media team
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Exec summary: Scroll down for 34 (!!) of Monday's media stories... Plus a preview of Tuesday's news...

There's a big headline from the NYT, an interview with the incoming prez of the WHCA, an Apple News "exclusive," and closing arguments in the AT&T trial. But this is what's most important:

The deadliest day for journalists in three years

This was a terrible day, the deadliest day for journalists anywhere in the world since the attack at the Charlie Hebdo office in 2015. Nine journalists were killed in suicide bombings in Kabul, Afghanistan. "A bomber disguised as a TV cameraman detonated a second bomb at the site of an earlier explosion," CNN reports. "Both attacks were claimed by Islamic State." The death toll in Kabul was 30.

Separately on Monday, BBC Afghan service reporter Ahmad Shah was "shot dead by unknown gunmen in Khost province." Here is the BBC's full report.

A total of ten journalists -- all slain in Afghanistan on a single day.

"An attack on the global media"

"Today's suicide bombing was not just an attack on the Afghan media. It was an attack on the global media," CPJ executive director Joel Simon told me Monday night. "Five of the journalists killed worked for international media outlets. These are the journalists who keep the world informed. This is true in Afghanistan, but it's true in conflict zones around the world. It's a terrible loss for the people of Afghanistan, but it's a loss for everyone around the globe who cares about the news."

"There's a clash coming"

That's Carl Bernstein's reaction to Monday night's remarkable leak. The NYT's Michael Schmidt procured a list of four dozen questions Robert Mueller wants to ask President Trump. Here's the list...

 --> "These questions are jaw-dropping because everything is on the table," Juliette Kayyem said on "CNN Tonight..."

Hannity doesn't believe it

CNN and MSNBC immediately pivoted to the breaking news around 9pm ET. Sean Hannity reluctantly covered the breaking news too. "I am told by my sources tonight that the NYT is full of crap," he said. "That a lot of those questions are NOT the questions that the special counsel is asking." Then he bemoaned anonymous sources, while citing his own sources. Really.

Guest Sara Carter called it a "disinformation campaign." Then came this strange comment by Joe Concha: "We keep hearing that Mueller is running a straight-forward, clean investigation. Then how did that get in the pages of the NYT exactly? I'd love to know."

C'mon! The answer is right there in the text of the story: The Q's were "read by the special counsel investigators to the president's lawyers, who compiled them into a list. That document was provided to The Times by a person outside Mr. Trump's legal team..."

Who leaked and why?

The conventional wisdom -- everywhere BUT Fox -- is that the leak came from Trumpworld, not Mueller's camp. Seconding what Sam Stein tweeted: "Leaks about the Mueller team's interactions with the Trump legal team seem to have picked up since Rudy joined the crew..."

DOJ vs. AT&T

The six-week-long trial is over

Hadas Gold emails from DC: The courtroom (and overflow room) were packed for closing arguments on Monday. All the top execs were there -- Randall Stephenson, Jeff Bewkes, John Stankey, Coleman Breland, etc. AT&T and Time Warner lead attorney Dan Petrocelli's wife even flew in to watch. But DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim was absent -- he was in California giving a speech. 

What were the closing arguments? Read Gold and Jessica Schneider's full story here...

Mark June 12 on your calendar

Gold adds: The biggest news on Monday came after the closing arguments, when Judge Richard Leon announced that he will issue a ruling on the case on June 12, though he left open the possibility he could rule before then. Remember, the merger deadline is June 21, when either Time Warner or AT&T can walk away from the deal...

 --> The next Q is whether whoever loses will appeal...
📅 Plan ahead! 
 -- This year's Tony Award nominations will be announced at 8:30am Tuesday...

 -- Amanda Carpenter's book "Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies To Us" comes out Tuesday... It's at the top of my to-read list...

 -- Speaking of books, Apple News published the first excerpt from John McCain's book "The Restless Wave," out May 22... This is the first time Apple has launched an "exclusive" piece of content...

 -- Speaking of Apple, earnings come out after the bell on Tuesday...

Ashley Judd is suing Weinstein

"Ashley Judd sued Harvey Weinstein on Monday, opening a new legal battlefront for the disgraced film producer by claiming that her career withered because he spread lies about her in Hollywood after she rejected his sexual requests," the NYT's Brooks Barnes scooped on Monday.

He notes that "it is rare for people to recover damages for smear campaigns," but Judd has A-list director Peter Jackson and lawyer Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. on her side. The suit was filed in L.A. Superior Court...

Weinstein Co. bankruptcy update

Deadline's Mike Fleming Jr. reports: The bidding for the distressed assets of The Weinstein Company is over, sources said. Lantern Capital's $435 million stalking horse bid will win the day..."

NYT metro editor resigns after "investigation"

In an email to NYT staffers on Monday, Dean Baquet and Joe Kahn announced that Metro editor Wendell Jamieson has resigned following "an investigation." Of what? The paper isn't saying. The memo said "Susan Chira is stepping in as interim metro editor effective immediately."

Some staffers were stunned. Jamieson, the Metro chief for the past five years, said "I regret and apologize for my mistakes and leaving under these circumstances." He added, "I'm especially proud of all the talent I've helped bring to The Times."
Baquet and Kahn's memo said they "do not intend to comment further" to "protect the privacy of those involved." This "lack of transparency is also striking given the Times has aggressively covered workplace matters," Politico's Michael Calderone notes...

Remembering Steve Komarow

The CQ Roll Call newsroom is mourning the death of Steve Komarow, its executive editor and SVP. Komarow died Sunday at age 61 "after a recent accident and long illness."

"Across a varied and accomplished career of four decades, his calmly confident news judgment and patiently clear-eyed managerial style produced nearly universal respect and virtually no lasting enmity," David Hawkings writes...
For the record, part one
 -- Congrats, Margaret Brennan! The "Face the Nation" host and her husband Yado Yakub are expecting their first child in September... (People

-- David Goldman's latest: "T-Mobile-Sprint deal will be a tough sell to antitrust regulators..." (CNNMoney)

 -- "NBC's Megyn Kelly on Monday warned the throng of her female colleagues who are defending veteran TV anchor Tom Brokaw against sexual harassment allegations that 'you don't know what you don't know...'" (Page Six)

 -- "For 12 days, the media has obsessed over a controversy" about MSNBC's Joy Reid "out of all proportion to the story's importance," Conor Friedersdorf argues... (The Atlantic)


How should the dinner change?

48 hours since Michelle Wolf's controversial stand-up act at the correspondents dinner, and lots of people have lots of ideas about the future of the dinner.

Here's my view: The president says he's at "WAR" with the media. Journalists mostly say, to borrow Marty Baron's line, "we're not at war, we're at work." But his "war" talk changes the press-president dynamic. It changes the dinner, too. The president is usually the center of gravity at the dinner, and the comedian serves as the counter-balance. But with Trump absent, the dinner is off-balance.

"To put it mildly, Saturday's performance was not helpful," the publisher of Politico says. The dinner "has lost its way," the publisher of USA Today says.

So something is likely to change. But what? Faced with a "walkout threat by news organizations," the association "is considering cutting the comic," the WashPost's Paul Farhi reports. But will that make the WHCA look any better?

My interview with Olivier Knox

Look, this debate pre-dates Wolf and Trump. Aspects of the dinner have been controversial for decades. But now it's getting a lot more attention. Olivier Knox's turn as association prez starts in July... Here's what he told me on Monday:

 -- "As somebody who has said for a very long time that the dinner should be 'boring,' that is to say focused on journalists and the work of good reporters, I am very open to suggestions about how to change it..."

 -- "There's a fairly vigorous constituency inside the WHCA for not having an entertainer..."

 -- "Obviously we're getting a lot of feedback from a lot of different sources..."

 -- Keep in mind: "The dinner is what makes it possible for us to be financially independent..."

Wolf has no regrets

"I wouldn't change a single word that I said. I'm very happy with what I said, and I'm glad I stuck to my guns," Wolf told Terry Gross on Monday. The interview will be on Tuesday's "Fresh Air."

Wolf said "I didn't want to cater to the room." And: Sarah Sanders "wasn't there to celebrate the media." Here's my full story with her comments...

Wolf has tripled her Twitter following since Saturday

Brian Lowry emails: I suspect Netflix -- which has a show from Wolf scheduled to drop May 27 -- is doing cartwheels over an entire weekend of national promotion for its new star...

 --> Since the dinner, Wolf's Twitter following has more than tripled. Her performance has 6 million YouTube views and counting...

Some of Monday's reactions

 -- Kellyanne Conway to The Daily Caller: "Both events on Saturday," the dinner and the rally, "were great for the President..."

 -- The Economist's view: "In the age of Trump, calls for civility are calls for servility..."

 -- Brian Beutler says the WHCA "capitulated" even "before conservatives had specified their complaint..."

 -- 😂 A must-read by Alexandra Petri: "Approved" jokes for next year... 😂

Lowry's take

Brian Lowry emails: At a time when the White House is under fire for its vetting procedures, the WHCA can't really hide behind a suggestion that they didn't know what they were getting by having Wolf appear. Once you've invited her to be the entertainment, you have to shoulder responsibility for that, at least for the evening, which only makes the attempt to distance itself from her look squirrelly.

There have been a lot of jokes on Twitter about the association returning to Rich Little (the safe choice after Stephen Colbert) or booking a juggling act... Between the initial backlash and the backlash TO the backlash, the organization has the worst of all worlds, drawing flak from all sides...


GQ's headline: "While Journalists Were Mad at Michelle Wolf, the Justice Department Was Found Quietly Deleting References to Press Freedom." This is a reference to BuzzFeed's scoop...
For the record, part two
 -- Oliver Darcy emails: Taylor Lorenz will join The Atlantic next month as a staff writer covering technology and how it collides with culture. Lauren N. Williams will join as a senior editor in June and help shape coverage of the culture and entertainment verticals...

 -- L.A.-based correspondent Will Carr is jumping from Fox News to ABC News... (TVNewser)
-- CNN vet Deirdre Walsh is joining NPR as its new Congress Editor... (NPR)
Today in Trump

About this Enquirer cover...

This just in from CNN's Jim Acosta: "A National Enquirer cover story targeting Michael Cohen could be a strong sign President Trump is upset with his personal lawyer and turning against the man known for years as his 'fixer,' a source close to Trump said. According to the source, Enquirer publisher David Pecker, who is a longtime friend of Trump's, would not have allowed the publication of the story" without the President's blessing...

 --> Cohen, when asked whether he thought a message was being sent by the story's publication, told Acosta: "What do you think."

 --> The Enquirer rejects suggestions that outsiders are involved in its editorial decisions...

When you have to deny you called someone an "idiot..."

NBC's scoop: W.H. chief of staff John Kelly "thinks he's saving U.S. from disaster, calls Trump 'idiot,' say White House staffers."

The story was published at 4:14pm. By 5pm, Kelly was calling the story "total BS." That wasn't the only story about Trump and Kelly on Monday...


At 6pm, CNN reported that Kelly recently told senior national security officials -- in what appeared to be a "moment of frustration" -- that Trump was "becoming unhinged." The word "unhinged" was repeated several times on "The Situation Room."

At 6:49pm, Trump tweeted: "The Fake News is going crazy making up false stories and using only unnamed sources (who don't exist). They are totally unhinged..."

Do you think his use of the word "unhinged" was a coincidence?

"The Problem With Calling Trump a 'Reality-TV President'"

Megan Thomas emails: On a topic that seems like it's had a longer run than the Kardashian franchise, The Atlantic's Lucas Mann raises some new points on the dangers of calling Trump a "reality TV president" -- mainly, he hasn't earned the title: "The very specific path Trump took to reality stardom required of him little of the accessibility that is demanded of other celebrities in the genre..."
For the record, part three
 -- Via Eric Levenson: The most damning line from the dinner was "Flint still doesn't have clean water..."

-- Great point, Eugene Scott: "Trump went to Michigan and didn't talk about Flint..."

 -- More than a year has passed since Trump "held the only solo news conference of his administration," and "there are no signs the White House press shop is interested in a second go-round," Jill Colvin writes...

What the NYT is pitching to NewFront advertisers

The Digital Content NewFronts began with an NYT presentation on Monday morning. Some of the news:

 -- Via Bloomberg: The Times is "looking to create a TV show similar to 'The Daily...'"

 -- "The Sunday Styles column 'Modern Love,' a cooking column by Sam Sifton and the Times crossword puzzle could all become TV shows..."

 -- Via AdAge: Later this year the NYT "will rename its business section to better reflect how technology has changed the world and work life..."

 -- "It will also redesign its Sunday Business section later this year to have a more magazine feel and will introduce a weekly business newsletter that looks back at the week..."

Twitter's newest deals

More NewFront News: Twitter "announced 30-some content deals..."
Quote of the day
"Eventually, they're going to drive us to the point where there's nothing left to cut."

--Kieran Nicholson, a staff writer and union leader at The Denver Post, talking with CNNMoney's Jill Disis about the paper's fight with its hedge fund owner...

Time's Up takes aim at R. Kelly

Lisa Respers France emails: R. Kelly's name began trending on social media after Bill Cosby was found guilty last week, with some theorizing the R&B singer could be the next celebrity to be held accountable for alleged sexual misconduct. Now the Women of Color (WOC) group within the Time's Up movement is calling on the entertainment industry to cut ties with Kelly, who has long been the subject of allegations of sexual abuse and the mistreatment of women and underaged girls. I talked with the parents of one of those women and they said they are hopeful that Kelly is heading for a day of reckoning...
The entertainment desk

A spoiler-y discussion about "Avengers"

Brian Lowry emails: Now that the first salvo of viewers have had a chance to see "Avengers: Infinity War," Frank Pallotta and I engaged in a spoiler-filled discussion regarding what we both mostly liked about the movie, and a few misgivings. Plus, Frank again uses the opportunity to publicly point out I'm old...

Happy anniversary, Tom and Rita! 

Megan Thomas emails: ICYMI, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson marked 30 years of marriage over the weekend with a bash that included Oprah and the Obamas, among other A-listers, on the guest list.

EW's headline was perfect for its story on Hollywood's most well-liked couple: "Soothe yourself with 30 years' worth of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson's love story"

TV Series Finales: the good, the bad, the...

Brian Lowry emails: May is often the month for series finales (although they're now pretty much spread throughout the year), so the Paley Center's David Bushman polled a handful of TV critics, including yours truly, about some of their favorites...
For the record, part four
By Lisa Respers France:

 -- Tristan Thomas has broken his silence on social media after his scandal with Khloe Kardashian, but he's not talking about what some fans want to hear.

 -- ICYMI: Here's a list of everyone who won over the weekend at the Daytime Emmys...

 -- And finally, to quote the famous N*Sync meme, "It's gonna be May." So here's some of what's streaming on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon...
 I C Y M I 

How to catch up on Sunday's "Reliable Sources"

Read the transcript, listen to the podcast, watch the video clips on, or watch the full show via CNNgo or VOD...
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