The future of the CBS Corporation is up in the air. With a pivotal vote on Thursday, the CBS board of directors chose sides... specifically, Leslie Moonves' side. But Shari Redstone still has voting control. So now this battle will play out in the courts.
I'm not ruling out a surprise or two from Redstone's camp... but things seem to be settling down at the moment. This dispute is likely to take weeks... or months... to resolve. Here's the latest:
Thursday's two big developments
THURSDAY MORNING: A judge in Delaware sided with Redstone by rejecting the CBS motion for a temporary restraining order. CBS said it would go forward with its board meeting anyway.
THURSDAY AFTERNOON: "The CBS board meeting began at 5pm on the 35th floor of the CBS Building, known as Black Rock, in Midtown Manhattan," the NYT reports. "A few of the 14 participants dialed in by phone. Ms. Redstone and Mr. Moonves were both present. The mood was tense."
Moonves and 10 other board members supported the proposal to dilute Redstone's 80% stake. Redstone and two of her allies from National Amusements voted against the dividend. It was 11 to 3, just as expected. The board agreed to postpone Friday's scheduled annual meeting... Here's my full story...
Hey, perfect timing for this book...
Keach Hagey has been working on a book about Sumner Redstone for more than two years. And it's coming out next month. Hat tip to Hagey and HarperCollins for the timing! "The King of Content" will be out June 26... The marketing campaign began on social media on Thursday...
The new CEO of Fox News
I heard echoes of the Roger Ailes scandal when this news broke...
For the first time, there is a female executive in charge of Fox News... Suzanne Scott's new title is CEO, effective immediately, per Thursday's big announcement.
Scott will report to Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch. For the past year, she's been the prez of programming (opinion shows) while Jay Wallace has been the prez of news... Now Wallace will be "president of Fox News and executive editor," and he will report to her...
--> Scott will also be CEO of Fox Business...
--> And: Fox News co-prez Jack Abernethy is moving to L.A. to run the Fox Television Stations Group...
"She has now made history..."
In Thursday's press release, Lachlan thanked Abernethy for being a "steadying force at Fox News during the last 21 months," i.e. the time since Ailes was removed. Abernethy really did help turn Fox News around. So did Scott. "She has now made history as its first female CEO," Lachlan said. At the moment she is the only woman in charge of a major TV news organization...Here's my full story...
Michael and the Mooch? Not so fast. The NYT's Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt reported Thursday that UTA agent Jay Sures has been pitching a "Crossfire" type show for Michael Avenatti and Anthony Scaramucci... The pair have definite chemistry, as anyone who saw them together at UTA's recent DC party can tell you, but the idea also prompted tons of eye-rolling from the twitterati.
So what's going on? As best as I can tell, this idea IS on the stove, but it's on the back burner. It has to be, because Avenatti is actively representing Stormy Daniels right now. "I have no interest in television right now... I enjoy practicing law and look forward to prevailing on behalf of my client Stormy Daniels," he tweeted in response. "That's where my focus is." But he's not ruling it out in the future...
--> Re: the recent pitches: MSNBC and CNN declined to comment...
For the record, part one
-- "Robin," Dave Itzkoff's biography of Robin Williams, came out on Tuesday... Itzkoff talked with Peter Kafka on the latest Recode Media pod... (Recode)
-- John Carreyrou will launch his book about Theranos, "Bad Blood," via an interview with Norah O'Donnell on this Sunday's "60 Minutes..." (Twitter)
-- Pew is out with new data about attitudes toward the news media in eight western European countries. There are big differences in trust levels from country to country... But overall, "those who hold populist views value and trust the news media less..." (Pew)
A year of Mueller time
The one-year anniversary of Robert Mueller's probe was an opportunity for news outlets to look at how much has been exposed about Russian interference... And how much still needs to be determined.
--> NYT's Maggie Haberman tweeted: "This morning, the president tweeted for the one-year Mueller anniversary that it's all a witch hunt. Tonight, his campaign chairman's ex-son-in-law was reported to have pleaded guilty in connection with the probe..."
"This is an all-out propaganda war"
Thursday's "AC360" highlighted the derail/discredit/divert campaign against Mueller's effort. "This is an all-out propaganda war," David Gergen said, calling it "hand-to-hand conflict conducted by one side."
He said the White House and the president's allies "are doing everything they can to discredit the investigation, to discredit the institutions of the FBI and the Justice Department, in order to drive public opinion in the president's direction. And the other side has kept silent, because that is the professionalism that Mueller is displaying..."
Leak control: "The White House is considering shrinking its communications team in the coming weeks," CNN's Kaitlan Collins reported Thursday, citing "two officials with knowledge of the expected changes."
Collins' report came a few hours after the NYT broke the news that the W.H. has limited attendance at its daily comms meeting to reduce leaks. CNN's Sarah Westwood reported that "the large daily meeting had been suspended indefinitely and was not likely to return to the schedule. Instead, various groups of comms or press aides have met separately in smaller numbers this week..."
Putting Trump's "animals" quote in context
"These aren't people. They are animals."
Oliver Darcy emails: Several news organizations took Trump's Wednesday afternoon remarks out of context to suggest he was referring to undocumented immigrants at large as "animals," when it appears the president was likely referring to members of a violent gang.
CNN issued a clarification to its tweet about the quote, and the AP deleted its original tweet, saying "it wasn't made clear that [Trump] was speaking after a comment about gang members." But other outlets seemed to stand by their reporting -- not responding to requests for comment and/or not updating their stories/tweets. Read more...
It's about the lies...
David Klein flagged David Leonhardt's daily NYT Opinion newsletter connecting four of the week's big stories. What do all the stories have in common? Lies. "The president is going to keep lying, and his allies are going to keep covering for him. The rest of us need to remember that a lie is still a lie, even when it's coming from the president," Leonhardt says...
For the record, part two
By Julia Waldow:
-- The Royal Wedding "offers media companies something rare -- an epic news event they can actually plan for," Shirin Gaffary writes... (Recode)
-- Facebook Stories, now at 150 million daily active users, has started testing ads in the U.S., Mexico, and Brazil... (TechCrunch)
-- Gizmodo Media Group is launching a commerce site called The Inventory, Max Willens reports... (Digiday)
Baier's POV about Hannity and Trump
Bret Baier, speaking on "The View" while promoting his new book on Thursday, was asked about Sean Hannity's frequent phone calls with POTUS. Baier's answer:
"The network overall is not a mouthpiece" for Trump. "There may be opinion shows that have a direct relationship with the president, and Sean is not calling me and giving me a download of the call. I was on his show the other night, and he said to me, 'How much problem do I cause the news division? Scale of one to 10.' And I said, you know, 'A solid six.' But it depends on the day..."
For the record, part three
By Daniella Emanuel:
-- "Google is breaking up its premium YouTube Red service into two new offerings: a YouTube Music streaming service, available either for free with ads or for $9.99 per month, and a YouTube Premium for original video content, costing $11.99 per month..." (The Verge)
-- Check out the responses to Caroline Kitchener's article earlier this month about why women don't write letters to the editor as much as men. Some of the respondents weren't too happy with the suggestion that it's due to a confidence gap... (The Atlantic)
-- Natalie Jarvey interviewed Vox Media chief Jim Bankoff... (THR)
Here are Lowry's takeaways
Brian Lowry emails: Broadcast networks didn't give the impression they were running scared during their upfront presentations, downplaying behind-the-scenes drama (the Fox/Disney deal; the CBS/Viacom war) and industry changes that are upending their traditional advertising model. But a relative shortage of new series and reliance on reboots suggests a play-it-safe approach, one that favors stability and the familiar.Full recap here...
Headlines from the CW's presentation
More from Brian Lowry: Arguably no network has exhibited a better feel for its audience than the CW the past few seasons, and its week-closing presentation reinforced that. Expanding to a sixth night, the CBS-Warner Bros.-owned network's new shows include a "Charmed" remake, with the drama-heavy lineup seemingly positioned in the longterm to capitalize on Fox's directional shift toward more news and sports once the Disney acquisition goes through...
For the record, part four
-- Correction: In last night's letter I attributed an item to the WashPost's Ed O'Keefe... but Ed is now at CBS... My mind was stuck in the past, my fault!
-- A scoop on MSNBC's "All In With Chris Hayes" Thursday night: Footage of Bill Gates recalling "his first encounters with the president." Among the newsy quotes: Gates said "both times he wanted to know if there was a difference between HIV and HPV..." (BuzzFeed)
"Amazon Studios is getting into business with 'Get Out' writer/director Jordan Peele. Peele is set to executive produce a new series for the streaming network called 'The Hunt,' a 1977-set show about a group of diverse Nazi hunters living in New York City. Known as The Hunters, the group sets out on a bloody quest to bring high-ranking Nazi officials to justice after learning hundreds are living in the U.S..."
MTV suspends "Catfish" production
"MTV has put production of its reality series 'Catfish' on hold as host and executive producer Nev Schulman faces allegations of sexual harassment," Sandra Gonzalez reports. "The investigation comes days after a former guest on the reality show posted videos on YouTube, alleging she was the recipient of sexually charged language and that she was repeatedly asked about her sexual orientation." Schulman told Page Six that "the behavior described in this video did not happen..."
"SNL Struggles to Find Its Identity in the Era of Trump Fatigue"