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Kavanaugh and the truth; what to expect this week; 'SNL' returns; country music's moment of silence; Katie Couric interview; 'Free Solo' success

Exec summary: Welcome to October. Here are the key Q's about Brett Kavanaugh's nomination... Plus, my interview with Katie Couric, an epic day for ESPN, and highlights from the Texas Tribune Festival...

One year later: Why?

It has been one year since the deadliest single-day mass shooting in modern US history, the concert massacre in Las Vegas. There's going to be a sunrise remembrance ceremony hosted by local officials on Monday morning, including 58 seconds of silence.

I wanted to highlight this -- amid all the SCOTUS news and everything else -- because the loss was so profound and the motive is still a mystery. "One year after Stephen Paddock killed 58 Las Vegas concertgoers, criminal psychologists and threat-assessment experts are still puzzling over why," Zusha Elinson writes in Monday's WSJ. While "several hypotheses on the Las Vegas gunman's possible psychopathy and desire for infamy have begun to emerge," the short answer is we still don't really know...

So many survivors

Hundreds were shot. Thousands were at the concert. "There are more than 20,000 survivors of the attack, and many have united in the year since, forming Facebook groups, text chains and meeting up in person," WaPo's Heather Long reports in this remarkable story about one hero of the shooting who has been diagnosed with PTSD...

Country music's moment of silence

Per Kurt Bardella in the Morning Hangover, "the country music community will observe a 58-second moment of silence" on Monday morning. Rolling Stone says radio stations and other outlets will pause just after 10 a.m. PT Monday. 

Jason Aldean, who was performing when the attack took place, was back in Vegas the other day for the iHeartRadio Festival. Last year's shooting "strained the gun culture that has long permeated country music, with some major stars taking the once-unthinkable measure of calling for stricter firearm regulations," the Nashville Tennessean says in this look at the industry's responses...

A scare on Saturday night

MSNBC was televising the Global Citizen Festival in NYC when a fence barrier collapsed, startling the crowd with a loud noise. Some people thought it was gunshots, and there was a stampede. MSNBC cut to a wide shot of the crowd, then to commercials, before coming back and explaining what had happened. Chris Hayes and co. reassured the audience that there was no shooting.

Las Vegas Review-Journal alum Steph Grimes was there... "I really did think I heard gunshots," she tweeted, "and everyone was running and yelling about shots so we ran. It really says something pathetic about our country that we immediately think 'shooting' when we hear something loud."

Media week ahead calendar

 -- Monday: The Supreme Court begins its new term...

 -- Monday night: News & Doc Emmys in NYC...

 -- Tuesday: A few notable new nonfiction titles: "Good and Mad" by Rebecca Traister, "The Fifth Risk" by Michael Lewis, "The Red and the Blue" by Steve Kornacki, and "Ship of Fools" by Tucker Carlson...

 -- Thursday: CNNMoney becomes CNN Business! Here's a preview...

 -- Friday: This year's Nobel Peace Prize laureate announcement...

 -- Friday: "'Venom' and 'A Star is Born' kick off the fall movie season, in what should be a potent one-two punch," Brian Lowry notes...

Epic day for ESPN

"For the first time in history, MLB's regular season will conclude with two different tiebreakers." So ESPN's afternoon starts with a 1 p.m. game between the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs... Then a 4 p.m. tiebreaker between the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers... Followed by "Monday Night Football" as usual...

If you're in DC...

I'll be speaking at the start of the 25th season of The Kalb Report. The session title is "Truth Be Told: Journalism in the Age of Trump." The real draw are the other speakers: Ted Koppel, Emily Rooney, David Folkenflik, and moderator Marvin Kalb. The event begins at 8 p.m. at the National Press Club... Admission info here...

The Atlantic Festival starts Tuesday

The Atlantic is still adding speakers to its DC lineup... Hillary Clinton will be the opening interview on Tuesday... But I wanted to note the number of key senators who will be there: Sens. Chris Coons, Jeff Flake, and Lindsey Graham are all scheduled to participate...

 >> JUST ANNOUNCED: Kamala Harris will be in conversation with Laurene Powell Jobs on Wednesday afternoon...


 -- CA Gov. Jerry Brown signed the nation's strictest net neutrality bill into law on Sunday... (CNNMoney)

 -- And the Trump administration immediately sued CA, "setting up a high-stakes legal showdown over the future of the Internet..." (WaPo)

 -- Michael Barbaro's Sunday night tease: "A powerful two-part episode of the Daily in the works for tomorrow..."

 -- What political reporters are sharing: Ryan Lizza's story about Devin Nunes's family farm... It's an incredible tale, with many media angles... (Esquire)



"60" snagged Flake and Coons

When CBS announced the lineup of stories for Sunday's "60 Minutes" season premiere, there was a TBA slot... And on Saturday we found out why. It looks like the newsmag was holding a spot open for something newsy... Like Scott Pelley's sit-down interview with Flake and Coons. Pelley taped it in DC on Saturday... And here was the result...

 >> Bill Whitaker's story "Inside The Epidemic," which was going to be the lead, became the second story of the evening... Sharyn Alfonsi's profile of Paul McCartney was the closer...

Was Kavanaugh telling the truth?

Over the weekend, this Boston Globe editorial channeled what progressives across the country are saying: "Kavanaugh's a liar. He lies about little things. He lies about big things. He lies under oath."

Many Kavanaugh opponents have already concluded that he lied about his yearbook entries, his drinking, etc. So this exchange from "60" is going to get a lot of play on Monday:

PELLEY: If Judge Kavanaugh is shown to have lied to the Committee, nomination's over?
FLAKE: Oh yes.
COONS: I would think so.

But on Sunday's "Reliable Sources," Trumpworld insider Matt Schlapp blunted my Q's about Kavanaugh's apparent dishonesty at the hearings. Schlapp dismissed fact-checkers and practically blamed the press for bringing this issue up. On the subject of Kavanaugh's drinking, he said "I could care less whether or not Supreme Court justices guzzled too much beer. I think we're in a ridiculous place. We should be talking about his legal jurisprudence."

This week's other big Q

Is this FBI investigation legit? All weekend, news outlets have been reporting that the probe is "narrowly focused" and limited, contradicting President Trump's claim that the FBI has "free rein." 

Sources tell CNN "that the White House is controlling the scope of the probe." Only a handful of people are expected to be interviewed.

"I think alarm bells right now ought to be going off much louder, in the press, about these apparent limitations on the background investigation," David Gergen told me on "Reliable..."

Swetnick speaks with NBC

Will any of Kavanaugh's accusers, fed up by the process, engage more with the press? Yes: NBC's Kate Snow interviewed Julie Swetnick, the woman represented by Michael Avenatti, on Sunday, two sources told me. Portions of the interview may or may not air on Monday's "Today" show. The network is "reporting it out," an NBC source told me, indicating that the newsroom is vetting her claims and deciding what to air...

 --> Up until now, Swetnick's only TV appearance was a short at-the-airport interview with John Heilemann for Showtime's "The Circus..." It aired Sunday night...

"The culture has changed..."

Quoting from John Dickerson's notebook on Sunday's "Face the Nation:" 

"At the end of this drama there will be no winners. And yet. Calls to sexual assault hotlines have increased 200% since Ford's testimony. Senators on both sides and even President Trump deemed her credible. It is now the default in America that accusers must be treated seriously and respectfully. Now, only the willfully ignorant don't know why women don't report abuse. This means my daughter will live in a better world than her mother, who like thousands of others was inspired to explain why she didn't report -- a collective act last week that transformed what had been a wound into a walking stick. There is more anguish to come from this drama, but the culture has changed: a week of public anguish will mean less private anguish in the future." 🙏

Notes and quotes

 -- On "Reliable," we analyzed the two alternative universes where Kavanaugh coverage is being consumed. It's like night and day. "Unfortunately, there's not a shared narrative about the facts," Susan Glasser said. Jeff Greenfield had some sharp words for CNN's coverage... Mediaite has the details here...

 -- Later in the hour, Jessica Valenti called for fewer "pundits" and more experts in the TV coverage mix. She said Kavanaugh embodied white male backlash to #MeToo...

 -- Jodi Kantor tweeted: "The FBI deadline falls on October 5. A year to the day after Megan Twohey and I broke the Weinstein story..."


 -- Important new story by Paul Farhi: "The White House press room is overwhelmingly white. Does that matter?" Yes! Read the rest here... (WaPo)

 -- Speaking of the W.H. press corps, Chris Wallace asked Sarah Sanders about the death of the briefing on Sunday... She said briefings will still happen, but when POTUS takes Q's directly, "that's going to take the place of a press briefing..." (Mediaite)

 -- Trump is leading a hate movement against the media, example #1,930: They "really do they stoke the fires of resentment and chaos," he told a crowd in WV on Saturday night...

My interview with Katie Couric

We talked about a lot on Sunday's "Reliable Sources..." Here are a few of the highlights...

 -- On the Kavanaugh case: "Our understanding of sexual violence against women and the trauma -- the lifelong trauma that ensues -- has not progressed, since I covered the Anita Hill hearings 27 years ago..."

 -- About her new podcast looking back at her Sarah Palin interview ten years later: "We wanted to look at how much things have changed and how her kind of anti-intellectual, red meat populism, anti-media rhetoric did pave the way for Donald Trump..."

 -- Re: the recent scandals at CBS: "The culture I found at '60 Minutes' personally was very challenging and at times quite offensive. I think obsequious and subservience was a job requirement in order to thrive there for many women in particular." Read Jackie Wattles' recap here...

One correction

Couric pointed out that CBS is "not the only network that has a male hierarchy. If you look at the news presidents at every major broadcast and cable network, they're all male. All three evening news anchors are male. The vast majority of executive producers at every network are male. And this really has to end. If we really believe that the tone at the top is paramount, then you have to have more diverse voices at the top because they have such an impact on the editorial choices that are made, who covers stories and how they're covered."

Right after our TV segment, Couric came back to me with one exception to her comment that the news presidents at all the major TV networks "are male:" While Jay Wallace is the president of Fox News, his boss Suzanne Scott is the CEO...

Catch up on the show

Watch the video clips on Catch the full show through CNNgo or VOD... Or listen to the pod via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or TuneIn...

Check out these news startups in Chicago, Memphis, Denver

ICYMI: We brought three local news pioneers together for a conversation about startup life, subscription strategies and local news opportunities... Julia Waldow recapped the discussion here... And you can hear it all on our podcast. Pull quotes:
 -- Eric Barnes: "Journalism didn't fail. The business model behind journalism on a local level is what failed..."

 -- Stephanie Lulay: "When people first meet a Block Club Chicago reporter, it's often the first time they've ever met a reporter that isn't there to cover violence..."

 -- Larry Ryckman: "I tell a story that when I was a kid, my parents owned a small business. My father was the CEO and the janitor. And that's sort of the position that I'm in at the Colorado Sun. You do what needs to be done."

Speaking of news pioneers...

Dispatch from Austin

Jamie and I flew to Austin on Friday for the Texas Tribune Festival... I moderated a panel on Saturday morning... and we ran into fellow attendees everywhere. Trib CEO Evan Smith told me that more than 7,000 people registered for the festival this year, up from 4,700 last year. He said it was a "$2 million gross revenue weekend for us, and 2/3 dropped to the bottom line — to pay for watchdog and investigative journalism." About 260 speakers were in town, including many 2020 hopefuls.

"We really are living in Woke Nation," Smith said. "The number of regular folks — civilians — who are activated, animated and agitated by serious political discussions is growing by the day. For them, this was Woodstock without the drugs, SXSW for nerds. This was an event at which Amy Klobuchar was greeted like Gal Gadot in 'Wonder Woman' — but also one at which a conversation about the future of public and higher ed in fast-growing Texas was standing room only, even though it was scheduled opposite Michael Avenatti. And speaking of Avenatti — the contest between him and Sally Yates to see who was more in demand for selfies was closer than Bush-Gore..."


 -- "A downtown Manhattan office-space James Murdoch has committed to for post-Fox — with enough room to house some small startups — seems to point to his heavily-rumored V.C. future," Joe Pompeo reports... (VF)

 -- Speaking of the Murdoch clan, here's Brooks Barnes' latest: Elisabeth Murdoch "has quietly built" Vertical Networks "into a major supplier of app-based video series for mobile devices." Here's how it works... (NYT)

 -- Big new story by Andrew Rice: "Was David Boies just doing right by Harvey Weinstein? Or did he cross an ethical line?" (NYMag)

"SNL" is back

What'd you think?

Brian Lowry emails: "SNL" gets big ratings, and thus big media traffic. But after the Kavanaugh opening sketch -- and setting aside the novelty of Kanye West's performance art -- Saturday's premiere was flat-out bad...

About the opening sketch...

Mark Harris, writing for Vulture, says the SCOTUS cold open "proves how hard it is to do politics on 'SNL' now." Here's his argument...

I think the writers and producers wanted viewers to know what they stood re: Kavanaugh, and the message came through loud and clear. "Weekend Update" was more cutting than the cold open. "I just want to remind everyone that all of this yelling and crying happened at this dude's job interview," Michael Che said. "I mean typically when you have to be asked about sexual assault and your drinking problem at a job interview, you don't get the damn job. I don't know if Kavanaugh actually has a history of assault or a drinking problem. But I know that he might. And you shouldn't be on the Supreme Court if you might. You shouldn't be on the 'Peoples Court' if you might. Sometimes might is enough. I don't want to pet your dog if he might bite me..."

And about Kanye...

The credits began to roll, but Kanye "still had plenty to say," Frank Pallotta writes. "After performing several songs on the show Saturday, the rapper went on a rant about President Trump as 'SNL' went off the air." Details here...


 -- Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Falchuk tied the knot on Saturday in the Hamptons... (Page Six)

 -- Hot off the presses by Joy Press: "Matthew Weiner in the Mirror..." (VF

 -- Happy October! Lisa Respers France has a guide to what's streaming this month... (CNN)

Weekend box office recap

"Universal topped the weekend box office for the second weekend in a row, this time with the comedy Night School starring Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish. At the same time Warner Bros.'s animated feature Smallfoot finished in the runner-up position while the studio's horror hit The Nun became the highest grossing international and worldwide release in the Conjuring universe," Box Office Mojo's Brad Brevet reports...

👀 on "Free Solo"

National Geographic's critically acclaimed documentary "Free Solo" scored "the best screen average of the year to date, $75,201," THR's Pamela McClintock reports...

 >> NatGeo exec Courtney Moore says, "In a year when audiences are recognizing the power of seeing docs on the big screen, it's so gratifying to see Free Solo embraced as the thrilling theatrical experience it is." I'm hoping to see it sometime this month...

Fox and Disney feeling good about these #'s

Brian Lowry emails: "Last Man Standing" premiered to more than 8 million viewers Friday, dominating its time slot in the key 18-49 demo. Those results seemingly validated Fox's decision to pick up the show and, in a roundabout way, could also reward Disney as the acquirer of 20th Century Fox TV after its network, ABC, cancelled the Tim Allen comedy...

Lowry reviews "Student Athlete"

Brian Lowry emails: LeBron James skipped straight to the pros, but he's become both an extremely active producer and an advocate on behalf of athletes. He puts both to use with "Student Athlete," an HBO documentary premiering Tuesday that offers a pointed indictment of the NCAA and amateurism's arcane rules, including the observation that the term in the title is an oxymoron...

That's a wrap! Hope you had a great weekend. See you tomorrow...
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