Hannity and Trump; why leakers leak; upfronts up next; Trevor Noah interview; Eurovision winner; another "Avengers" record; week ahead calendar

By Brian Stelter and CNN's media team
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Exec summary: Happy Mother's Day! Hope you had a great day. Here's a preview of the week ahead...

Sean Hannity calling

NYMag just published Olivia Nuzzi's "on the phone with President Trump and Sean Hannity" story. Check it out here... Nuzzi says Hannity and Trump "alternate between the 'witch hunt!' and gabbing like old girlfriends about media gossip and whose show sucks and who's getting killed in the ratings and who's winning (Hannity, and therefore Trump) and sports and Kanye West." This story supports the notion that Hannity is both an adviser to Trump's W.H. and Trump is a producer of Hannity's show...

 --> Hannity friend John Gomez: "One reason they click is because of being celebrities. In broadcasting, you live and die by the ratings. I think they have that in common, and they're competitors, you know? They're competitive."

I recommend this graf

"Hannity has never been about the news; he's a specific form of entertainment, a high-energy delivery device for a simplistic far-right worldview that is less about ideology and policy outcomes and more about winning," Nuzzi writes...

Network TV's pitch

Broadcast TV is losing share and attention. Ad budgets are getting tighter. Netflix, Amazon, etc. are looming larger than ever. But there's still an old-fashioned thrill associated with upfront week. Yes, it's completely anachronistic... a vestige of broadcast's heyday... yet the TV industry plays along. We're going to hear pitches for dozens of new TV shows in the next few days... And somewhere in the pile, there must be a few hits. There must be!

 --> More: Check out the NYT's list of lessons from the broadcast TV season... and Brian Steinberg's Variety preview of the haggling that's about to begin...

NBC is up first

Brian Lowry emails: NBC announced its lineup on Sunday in advance of the network's Monday morning presentation at Radio City. While network chief Bob Greenblatt stressed the year-round nature of the TV business on a press conference call, the general lack of sizzle in the fall lineup -- three new shows, renewals on several border-line ones, and an entire Wednesday consisting of the network's "Chicago" dramas -- is indicative of the play-it-safe approach that broadcasters have adopted in the face of the changes besetting their business.

Notably, both of NBC's new hours will follow hits -- "The Voice" on Monday, and "This is Us" on Tuesday -- with the lone new comedy scheduled after "Will & Grace." And for all the hoopla surrounding NBC's Friday night pickup of Fox's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," that was left as a midseason backup, with Greenblatt citing international and syndication sales -- which have little to do with its primetime ratings -- as factors in its resurrection. "There's a lot of business reasons for the show to continue," he said...

 --> More: Joe Adalian explains why the "Brooklyn" deal makes $$$ sense...

Fox presents on Monday afternoon

Fox will follow NBC on Monday with its traditional Beacon Theatre show. "Lethal Weapon" will indeed return (with a controversial recasting) and "Gotham" will be back for its fifth and final season...

Later in the week:

This schedule hasn't changed in... I can't remember how long! ABC and sister ESPN will present on Tuesday. Turner and CBS are up on Wednesday... and the CW will wrap up the week on Thursday...

Week ahead calendar

 -- Tuesday: Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on digital music royalties...

 -- Tuesday and Wednesday: MoffettNathanson's Media & Communications Summit...

 -- Thursday night: "Deadpool 2" arrives in theaters...

 -- Saturday morning: The royal wedding! Wall to wall coverage in all the expected places...

 -- Saturday: "Fahrenheit 451" debuts on HBO...

 -- Sometime this week: Dems may try to force a vote to reinstitute "net neutrality" rules...

Mueller was appointed one year ago this week

Do you remember where you were when Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel? For some strange reason I do remember... I was at home with Jamie watching "The Situation Room..." When a few reporters posted mysterious tweets about a big announcement at 6pm. Sure enough, at 6 on the dot, the embargo was lifted and the appointment was announced. News anchors and producers immediately understood why it was such a big deal. The broadcast networks broke into programming with special reports. I think it took a little while for the viewing public to grasp what the appointment really meant...

Anyway, Thursday will mark one year since Mueller was named special counsel...

 --> In Monday's paper, the WashPost has a five-byline story about the status of Mueller's probe, citing "22" sources...

 --> POTUS has meetings with at least one head of state this week... will he hold a joint presser?
For the record, part one
 -- If you're like me, Jack Shafer's latest will fill you with rage: "For a preview of the newspaper industry's coming death, turn your gaze to Colorado, where the withering and emaciated Denver Post finds itself rolling in profits..." (Politico)

 -- Sunday's headline via Jake Tapper: "WH aide told Meghan McCain she would apologize publicly for morbid joke, but hasn't..." (CNN)

 -- Of note: John McCain's book "The Restless Wave" is not out until May 22, but it's been in the top ten on Amazon's best selling books list for several days now... (Amazon)

Margaret Sullivan's column about NBC

A succession of controversies at NBC News and MSNBC point "to a leadership problem," Margaret Sullivan writes in Monday's WashPost. "Something is wrong at NBC, and by the traditional standard that the person at the top sets the tone and bears ultimate responsibility, it's hard to absolve NBC Chairman Andy Lack."

NBC's response: "Lack returned to a hurting NBC News in 2015 and under his leadership all four flagship news programs are now number one, MSNBC is having its best year ever, and he's built an investigative team that in 18 months has broken hundreds of exclusive stories on politics, national security, technology and more..."
For the record, part two
 -- Sunday was the Catholic Church's World Communications Day... Pope Francis discouraged "fake" news... And he tweeted, "I invite communications professionals to promote a journalism of peace at the service of all people, especially those without a voice.."

 -- Speaking of the Pope: "60 Minutes" aired excerpts from a new documentary by Wim Wenders. The papal interviews were "unprecedented in length and scope." "60" contributor Jon Wertheim interviewed Wenders about it... (CBS)

 -- "When Spies Hack Journalism" -- Scott Shane's Sunday Review piece -- is well worth a read. He reflects on 2016, when "the Kremlin hacked American journalism," and what it means for the press going forward... (NYT)

Leaks about leaks about leaks

In the wake of Saturday's leaks from the W.H. press shop, there's tons of buzz about Jonathan Swan's latest story -- and for good reason. He asked W.H. leakers WHY they leak. One of the answers from a "current W.H. official:" It "probably falls into a couple of categories. The first is personal vendettas. And two is to make sure there's an accurate record of what's really going on in the White House."

That same source also told Swan: "To cover my tracks, I usually pay attention to other staffers' idioms and use that in my background quotes. That throws the scent off me..."

Rudy walked back his AT&T remark...

If your weekend was Rudy-free, lemme catch you up on what happened. Rudy Giuliani's Friday interview with HuffPost, where he claimed "the president denied the merger" between AT&T and Time Warner, was a big story on Saturday morning. Since his suggestion of Trump's personal involvement contradicted MONTHS of White House and DOJ statements, the W.H. straight-up said Rudy was wrong. "The Department of Justice denied the deal," Sarah Sanders told CNN's Abby Phillip.

A little while later, Rudy back-tracked via an interview with CNN's Dana Bash. The key quote: Trump "told me directly he didn't interfere."

But this back-and-forth did two things: It reignited a simmering controversy over possible political interference. And it got people talking again about Giuliani's habit of making things more complicated for his client. Here's my full story...

Jessica Schneider said it best:

She tweeted, "The implications of Giuliani's comment that Trump 'denied the merger' has hung over the merger since DOJ sued to stop it. I was in court for most of the trial, and the govt seemed to be grasping at straws. Now the questions of possible Trump influence are greater than ever..."
For the record, part three
 -- David Leonhardt's latest has applications all across the news media: "I'm Not Quoting Enough Women" (NYT)

-- Michael Calderone interviewed Liz Garbus about her forthcoming Showtime docu-series about the NYT... (Politico)

 -- At Cannes, THR saw "five signs of a festival in decline..." (THR)

 -- "Israeli singer Netta Barzilai has won the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, the annual international singing competition, on a night disrupted by protest..." (CNN)

Bloomberg's speech about "dishonesty"

Michael Bloomberg's commencement speech at Rice University mentioned "dishonesty" no fewer than twelve times. He said America is suffering from an epidemic of "dishonesty." He said it's a greater threat than terrorism:

"The greatest threat to American democracy isn't communism, jihadism or any other external force or foreign power. It's our own willingness to tolerate dishonesty in service of party, and in pursuit of power." He didn't mention Trump's name, and he told an AP interviewer that "it's bigger than any one party," but everyone got the message...
"Reliable Sources" highlights
 -- "One of the great things" about the Trump administration is "how it has caused a huge rise in necessary activism," Christiane Amanpour said in our "A block..."

 -- Amanpour, April Ryan and Frank Sesno reacted to Trump's "credentials" threat... Video here...

-- The Post's Jason Rezaian told me he's concerned that the Americans currently being held in Iran are being forgotten...

Kristof's "intervention"

The NYT's Nick Kristof, who recently wrote a whole column about the media's "addiction to Trump," discussed it with me on Sunday's show. We both admitted that we're "addicts." Kristof: "My wife and I, we find ourselves, our pillow talk is sometimes about Trump!" 

But, he said, "we complain that President Trump is, you know, parochial, isn't paying attention to important things around the world, and we're absolutely right. But that can also be said about us." Here's the segment...

Trevor Noah's take on Michael Cohen

When I interviewed "The Daily Show" host Trevor Noah the other day, I asked him to react to the revelations about Michael Cohen's corporate contracts. 

"I said from the very beginning that Donald Trump reminds me of an African dictator," Noah said, calling back to one of his famous segments from the show. "If you know anything about African dictators, the first thing you have to do is follow the money. And you follow the money with the people closest to them, family members, business associates... I would have been disappointed had we not found out or had Michael Cohen not done this. I'm like, 'Yes, this is following the script.' This is what you were meant to be doing as the person who rolls with Donald Trump. You are always going to be finding a way to swindle cash. And now the question really that remains is, did Trump know? And did these companies really not get anything?"

The "5:30 curse"

Noah also described what he called the "5:30 curse" -- a tendency for Trump-related breaking news to hit around dinnnertime. Journalists and late-night hosts can definitely relate to this. Noah: "We wait for the moment when Wolf Blitzer goes 'Breaking news.' We're waiting for that moment, because it happens almost every single day. It's the 5:30 curse, we call it." Jackie Wattles has a recap of the interview here...

 --> Want more? We've posted my ENTIRE 18-minute interview with Noah as a podcast... 👂

Here's how to catch up on the show

Read the transcript here, listen to the podcast via Apple Podcasts or other apps, and/or watch the video clips on CNN.com...
The entertainment desk


The WSJ's Erich Schwartzel says the box office receipts for "Avengers: Infinity War" were "gargantuan" in its opening weekend in China. The film brought in "an estimated $200 million in the world's second-largest box-office market."

CNN's Frank Pallotta notes that China "was the last market where 'Avengers: Infinity War' opened..." It is now "the fifth biggest film in history, globally." The global haul so far: $1.61 billion.

More from Frank: "Back in the states, the film took the top spot at the box office once again, nabbing an estimated $61.8 million. 'Infinity War' has now made $548 million in North America, which makes it the eighth biggest domestic release of all time."

In case you missed "SNL:"

Frank Pallotta has a recap here. It was a special Mother's Day edition, with cast members' moms taking over the cold open... The full clip is up on YouTube...

"Terrible, cringeworthy" cold opens?

Vice's Harry Cheadle with the "SNL" takedown that's getting a lot of attention: "To 'SNL,' I come as a friend: Your cold opens are terrible, cringeworthy pieces of self-satisfied liberal propaganda that are sometimes so bad they seem like parodies of themselves." Here's his argument. 

Let the "SNL" debates continue!
What do you think?
Email your feedback and thoughts to brian.stelter@turner.com... the feedback helps us improve this newsletter every day... Thanks!

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