Exec summary: Welcome to the weekend! Is the president unhappy with Sean Hannity? Is Shari Redstone ready to make a deal? Plus, an update from The Denver Post and a warning for publishers about pay walls...
Word of the day? Word of the week? CNN's Jim Acosta spoke with a "source familiar with the Trump legal team discussions" who said on Friday that Rudy Giuliani's recent performance was seen as a "sh*t show" inside the legal team.
Giuliani stayed off TV on Friday. Instead, he issued a statement that "only lent further confusion to an issue that has deeply undercut the administration's credibility," CNN's story noted.
President Trump undercut Rudy -- and then said this: "He'll get his facts straight... There has been a lot of misinformation. I say, You know what? Learn before you speak. It's a lot easier."
You didn't think Friday night would be slow, did you?
In the 8pm hour, the WSJ and the NYT both broke news. First, the WSJ: "U.S. Probes Cohen Over Cash He Built Up During Campaign." That's Michael Cohen. The Journal's team found that Cohen "took out lines of credit to secure access to as much as $774,000" as the race heated up.
Carl Bernstein's reaction on "AC360:" This has "all the appearances of a campaign slush fund." He also noted the significance of this story coming from a Rupert Murdoch-owned outlet.
A few minutes later, the NYT's scoop: "Two top F.B.I. aides" who worked alongside James Comey, James Baker and Lisa Page,"resigned on Friday." Then came a THIRD story...
"Trump Is Said to Know of Stormy Daniels Payment Months Before He Denied It"
Just after 9:30pm, the Times dropped this: "Trump knew" about Cohen's payment to Stormy Daniels "several months before he denied any knowledge of it to reporters aboard Air Force One in April, according to two people familiar with the arrangement."
Key graf from the NYT story: "While some White House officials had insisted that Mr. Trump was pleased with Mr. Giuliani's performance on Fox News in an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday night, two people close to the president painted a different picture. They said that Mr. Trump was displeased with how Mr. Giuliani, a former New York mayor, conducted himself, and that he was also unhappy with Mr. Hannity, a commentator whose advice the president often seeks, in terms of the language he used to describe the payments to Ms. Clifford..."
About all the lying...
Was this week a turning point? I'm hearing and seeing journalists apply the word "lie" to Trump's words more and more often...
-- Agree/disagree with this? "Most voters have become numb to each new Trump scandal because they don't believe what he says anyway," CNBC's John Harwood asserts in this new column...
Avenatti on three Sunday shows
Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti is booked on ABC, NBC, AND CBS's Sunday public affairs program... Roger Stone is also on ABC's "This Week..." Adam Schiff and Roy Blunt are on CNN's "State of the Union..."
Trump bashes CNN, then cites CNN reporting
Speakers bashed the news media all day along at the NRA's annual convention, as NRO's Jim Geraghty wrote here. Trump stayed on message in his afternoon address... But it was curious to hear him denounce CNN right before reading a CNN.com story to the audience...
Another standout moment from the speech: "Kanye West must have some power," Trump said, "because you probably saw, I doubled my African-American support numbers. I went from 11 to 22 in one week." Hmm...
Reality check about that Kanye comment
Trump was apparently citing a Reuters-Ipsos poll. It recently showed 22% support for Trump among black men (not among black men and black women). But the poll does not meet CNN's standards for reporting. CNN's Jennifer Agiesta explained why in an email: "It was conducted using a non-probability online sample, meaning that those who participated were not selected using scientific random sampling."
CNN and other big news outlets have certain standards for polls because it looks bad to pass along unreliable polling data.
So what about the polls that DO meet CNN's standards? Those polls do not show approval ratings that are as high or that suggest they "are shifting meaningfully in Trump's direction," Agiesta said. Gallup has Trump at 13% approval among African Americans...
Trump to the press corps: Cover the economy!
Trump seemed eager to talk with the press on Friday... He took Q's during a sudden gaggle at Andrews Air Force Base... When asked about Stormy Daniels, Robert Mueller, etc, he said, "This country is right now running so smooth and to be bringing up that kind of crap and to be bringing up witch hunts all the time, that's all you want to talk about..."
Earlier, he had cited the new unemployment figures, showing the U.S. at a 18-year low. So he said to the press, "What I do want you to do is look at our economy," Trump said...
How "Fox & Friends" booked Trump
Gabe Fleisher captioned this story "Donald Trump Is His Own Communications Director, Part 1000." It's a scoop by CBS's Jacqueline Alemany, who reported that Trump arranged his recent "Fox & Friends" interview himself. "Steve Doocy invited the president to appear on his show over the phone and Mr. Trump accepted." Then he "directed the press office to coordinate the logistics..."
-- Trump "intends to appoint Mehmet Oz, better known as Dr. Oz, to his council on sport, fitness and nutrition..." (CNN)
-- NBCUniversal ad sales chief Linda Yaccarino is also being named to the council... This is notable since Trump derided NBC as "fake" again on Friday...
-- Fox News legal exec Dianne Brandi, who went on "voluntary personal leave" amid multiple investigations into Fox's harassment issues, is staying on leave... Lily Fu Claffee is the new general counsel of Fox News... (B&C)
Is Shari Redstone ready to make a deal?
Shari Redstone has told Leslie Moonves she will "drop her demands for Viacom CEO Bob Bakish to be his No. 2 following a merger, as long as Bakish sits on the combined company's board," Reuters' Jessica Toonkel scooped Friday, citing sources.
The report boosted the stocks of both CBS and Viacom. But "initial indications are that it won't be enough to get the deal across the finish line," as the WSJ's Keach Hagey and Joe Flint reported. Here's why: "CBS, which forcefully rejected the idea of putting Mr. Bakish in management, also is sour on the latest offer. A person familiar with CBS's thinking said a board seat for Mr. Bakish is a nonstarter and that the two companies remain far apart on a deal..."
Here's what the Denver Post editorial page editor wanted to say
ICYMI, Denver Post editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett resigned on Thursday after management rejected his latest editorial assailing the paper's owner. Here's my full story.
After I filed, I obtained a copy of the editorial... In it, Plunkett said the hedge fund owner, Alden Global Capital, "not only didn't get the message, it is trying to silence the messengers." The editorial ended: "We renew our call for Alden to reinvest in its newsrooms, or release us to better ownership..."
Charlie Rose and CBS are being sued
"Three women are suing Charlie Rose and CBS News for sexual harassment and discrimination," Hadas Gold reports. "Their lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court on Friday, alleges that the three women were subject to 'blatant and repeated sexual harassment' by the former CBS anchor, and then suffered 'subsequent unlawful retaliation.'" The suit cites the WashPost's reporting from Thursday...
-- CBS response: "We will vigorously defend against the allegations..."
-- "The claims in the lawsuit filed today against Mr. Rose are without merit," Rose's attorney Bob Bodian said...
Rose's former show "CBS This Morning" has not shied away from the Rose scandal. Far from it. Amy Brittain, co-author of the WashPost stories, was interviewed for a Friday segment... This quote stood out to me... "We're looking at the information that is coming in and we're vetting it, and we're continuing our reporting," she said...
--> Gayle King commented after the segment: "The good news is, if you can say good news, is that the company is investigating. Hired somebody from the outside. And I really do feel, let the chips fall where they may. This investigation is continuing and we take it very very seriously."
"There needs to be a systematic change in newsroom culture"
Kyle Godfrey-Ryan, one of the co-founders of the Press Forward initiative to stamp out sexual harassment in TV newsrooms, will join me on Sunday's "Reliable Sources." Godfrey-Ryan is a former Charlie Rose assistant who alleges that Rose groped her. This is her first TV interview.
--> Press Forward said in response to the Post piece that "there needs to be a systematic change in newsroom culture..."
On Sunday's show I'll be joined by Michael Caputo... the former Trump campaign aide who was recently interviewed by special counsel investigators.
Plus: Carl Bernstein, Amanda Carpenter, Jon Meacham, David Cay Johnston, the aforementioned Kyle Godfrey-Ryan, and the NYT's man in Kabul, Mujib Mashal... Join us Sunday at 11am ET...
For the record, part two
By Daniella Emanuel:
-- Sources told Maxwell Tani that "Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group President John Amato hindered reporting of sexual-harassment allegations against his friend Charlie Walk..." (The Daily Beast)
-- Univision is launching a subscription streaming service... "Think of it as the epicenter of Spanish-language entertainment..." (Deadline)
-- The Atlantic's Karen Yuan examines why way more men write letters to the editor than women...(The Atlantic)
A warning for publishers...
"The Paywall Quandary: How many subscriptions does one really need?" is the title of Om Malik's latest.
He says "I think the paywall craze which is sweeping the media herd will be a big reality check for the news and magazine publishers. So many of them are drinking their own spiked kool-aid. They will soon realize the size of their 'real audience' and will soon realize that they don't pass the 'value for money' threshold. There are very few publications that have a feeling of must-reads and must-haves..."
Quote of the day
"What they should say on the news every night is: it's insane that the president can't stop lying and it's terrifying. And how are our allies going to believe anything that he says? How are we going to line up support for things that are very important in the world if the president is a proven, compulsive liar?"
-- Google is introducing new election ads policies, requiring "additional verification" for U.S. buyers. There will be an ads "Transparency Report" too... (Google)
-- Speaking of ads:Facebook "has been conducting market research in recent weeks to determine whether an ad-free version paid by subscriptions would spur more people to join the social network, according to people familiar with the matter," Sarah Frier reports... (Bloomberg)
-- PolitiFact is trying out a fact-checking show called "What the Fact" on Newsy... (Poynter)
Counting down to upfronts week...
Brian Lowry emails: Expect a lot of drips about series pickups next week as the major networks nail down fall primetime schedules in advance of their upfront presentations, which begin May 14. While the gamesmanship among broadcasters has lost some of its luster, it's still a pretty good snapshot of where those channels aimed at the widest possible audience think cultural trends are heading...
For the record, part four
-- This is a wild Drew Harwell story: "Facebook's failed crackdown on fake accounts..." (WashPost)
-- Have you heard Bill Hader's excellent impersonations of "Dateline" stars Keith Morrison, Josh Mankiewicz, Dennis Murphy, and Lester Holt? He shared them on "Jimmy Kimmel Live..." (YouTube)
The entertainment desk
Ten years since "Iron Man..."
Only a decade? Brian Lowry emails: The WashPost's Steven Zeitchikpointed out that Friday marked the 10-year anniversary of the release of "Iron Man," launching Marvel's high-stakes gambit of an interlocking cinematic universe. In hindsight, it's remarkable what the studio has established in that time, as well as the murderer's row that Disney has assembled with its acquisition of the company and Lucasfilm...
...And "Avengers" on the way to $1 billion
Frank Pallotta emails: Iron Man, Captain America and Thanos are about to reach the billion dollar club in record time. Disney's "Avengers: Infinity War" should cross $1 billion worldwide either late Friday night or Saturday, making it the fastest film ever to hit the milestone. Since breaking records last weekend, it has put up some astounding numbers and has already out-grossed the TOTALS of other superhero films like "Wonder Woman," "Deadpool" and "Justice League..."
Letterman's next guest: Tina Fey
Sandra Gonzalez emails with a weekend must-watch:Tina Fey's interview with David Letterman on "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction." My favorite part of the chat was when Tina confronted Letterman about the lack of women who have written for his shows. Letterman said he "didn't know" why there weren't more female writers, but insisted there was no policy against them. "I always thought, well, geez, if I was a woman I'm not sure I would want to write on my nickel-and-dime, dog-and-pony show anyway because we're on at 12:30." Fey hit back: "Yeah, we do want to write on it, though." The interview is streaming now...
MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU!
How Lowry celebrated the day
Brian Lowry emails: May the 4th has become a de facto "Star Wars" holiday, so I marked the occasion by trying out relatively new augmented and virtual-reality "Star Wars" experiences -- one available for home play, the other an immersive mall experience. While both are a bit pricey, they're not outlandish. For fans craving a higher level of engagement, these might represent the next frontier...
Tambor back for more "Arrested"
Chloe Melas emails: Jeffrey Tambor will return to Netflix's "Arrested Development" despite the accusations of misconduct at Amazon and his ousting from "Transparent." Here's my story with Sandra Gonzalez...
Lowry reviews "I'm Dying Up Here"
Brian Lowry emails: The second season of "I'm Dying Up Here" -- the Showtime drama inspired by the Comedy Store in the 1970s -- follows the death of the club's matriarch, Mitzi Shore. But it also begins to shift from focusing on comics hungry to break through to the toll that success exacts on some of stand-up's practitioners, which -- per comic Tom Dreesen -- prompted Johnny Carson to say, "Most people can handle struggle. One out of 100 can handle success."
On that note, with that quote... have a great weekend!
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