As soon as Susan Collins' lengthy speech ended on Friday, and Joe Manchin said that he, too, would vote for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, CNN.com changed its headline to say "HE HAS THE VOTES." Fox News too: "KAV HAS THE VOTES." HuffPost broke out the sirens, calling it a "🚨 DONE DEAL 🚨."
So Saturday's vote seems like a formality. Barring a last-minute surprise, Kavanaugh will be confirmed on Saturday afternoon, likely sometime in the 5 p.m. ET hour, though the vote could be moved up.
CNN's TV banner right now reads "Kavanaugh on verge of confirmation as senators Collins, Flake and Manchin say they'll vote yes."
After the final vote...
A big chunk of the country will celebrate. Another big chunk of the country will mourn. Still another big chunk of the country will shrug. And reporters will wonder: Just how much more divided are we now, as a result of these past few weeks?
"The country is gripped by a climate of division and distrust rivaled by few other moments in the recent past," Alex Burns writes in Saturday's NYT. "This time, historic grievances around race and gender are coming to a boil under the eye of a president who is dismissive of the concept of national unity... The Supreme Court, long a contested body, may now be viewed emphatically by one side as an institution under shadow..."
>> MORE: "Whatever your view of Kavanaugh," WaPo's Philip Bumpsays, it's "remarkable that a nominee who is underwater on support, put forward by a historically unpopular president who lost the popular vote, will be confirmed by a majority of senators representing about 44 percent of the country..."
Special coverage on Fox
Fox News ratings have been way up during this Supreme battle. Fox is blowing out its usual Saturday schedule to cover the final vote, bringing in Bill Hemmer and Dana Perino to co-anchor from 12 to 3 p.m. ET, then Chris Wallace and Shannon Bream from 3 til 7. Ed Henry will anchor the 7pm hour, and Judge Jeanine will be live from 8 til 10...
>> AND: Over on MSNBC, Chris Matthews will lead the coverage from 5 til 7 p.m., then Ali Velshi will anchor til 9 p.m...
Notes & quotes
-- I'm wondering: Will Christine Blasey Ford or Deborah Ramirez tape any TV interviews and/or speak out in other ways?
-- The WSJ is being harshly scrutinized for an editorial titled "Susan Collins Consents." Critics are saying it's a rape joke, others are saying it's just a reference to "advice and consent..."
-- On cable, there's a stark divide: For/against the Capitol Hill protesters. Sean Hannity declared the scene "dangerous" and said "these office areas of elected officials now need to be closed to the public..."
-- NYT's Katie Rogersgets the final word: "What a nightmarish, laborious, sad, traumatic process for something everyone knew was going to happen anyway..."
Media critic Tom Cotton?
Oliver Darcy emails: Tom Cotton or Sean Hannity? Reading some of the Republican senator's tweets might leave you confused. Cotton, in recent weeks, has morphed into a right-wing media critic, characterizing reporters as being left-wing political operatives. On Friday, he dished out that unfair treatment to CNN's Abby Phillips.
Phillips had noted in a tweet that it was "extraordinary" for a Supreme Court nominee's cloture vote to be a "squeaker." Cotton retweeted Phillips and said she had shown herself to be "part of the media wing of the Democratic party." Phillips responded, in part, "Thanks for reading Senator, but the idea that it's partisan to point out (factually) that in the modern history of the Senate, SCOTUS nominees are usually not approved w/ 51 votes is stunning..."
Bad optics for Manchin
Another item from Darcy: Moments after he released a statement indicating he'd vote to confirm Kavanaugh, Joe Manchin spoke to reporters in the Senate hallways about the decision. Also in the Senate hallways? A swath of angry protesters. As Manchin addressed reporters, the protesters drowned him out with chants of "SHAME!" The incident was carried live on all three cable news networks for all to see...
From the left and right...
On MSNBC, Chris Hayes' show had a graphic reminding viewers that the midterms are (only!) 32 days away. "It's been a terrible week," Hayes' guest Michelle Goldberg said. The faux FBI investigation was an "extra twist of the knife." Her main point: "THIS is Trump's America."
On Fox, Sean Hannity praised Collins for giving the most "powerful" Senate floor speech he'd ever heard. Fox's Laura Ingraham said this was an "amazing" week...
One of Trump's best days ever
In the morning, the government said that the unemployment rate fell in September to 3.7 percent, a 49-year low. In the afternoon, Kavanaugh's nomination was all but confirmed. So this has to rank as one of the best days of Trump's presidency. Notice how The Drudge Report led with the unemployment rate almost all day long, even well after Collins' speech. A+ use of emoji...
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE
-- I want to share a huge thank-you to "Reliable Sources" producer Lee Alexander, whose last day at CNN was Friday. I'm having a hard time imagining the program without him. But MSNBC wooed him away...
-- Speaking of that: MSNBC is "debuting a new panel show" hosted by David Gura on weekend mornings, 8 til 10 a.m., Aidan McLaughlin reports. Al Sharpton's Sunday morning show is moving to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays... (Mediaite)
-- "A reporter for an NBC affiliate in Minnesota was fired Friday, one day after he was spotted wearing a 'Make America Great Again' hat while covering a Trump rally for the local TV station." Cmon, man! Wearing campaign clothes or pins is a blatant violation in practically every newsroom... (BF)
-- Tom Llamas taped his interview with Melania Trump in Kenya on Friday... It will air next Friday as part of an ABC prime time special titled "Being Melania..." (TVNewser)
Can you believe it's been only one year?
Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey's first story about Harvey Weinstein's abuses was published one year ago Friday. Everyone knows about the ensuing #MeToo movement -- but there's a lot that people don't know about how it really happened. So I went back and reconstructed those pivotal weeks in October 2017. Here's my #longread for the newly relaunched CNN Business...
Twohey told me that she logged onto Facebook late one night, taking a break from work, and that's when she saw it. There were "countless posts from friends, family members. and former classmates documenting their own experiences with sexual harassment, abuse and rape." They were all saying "me too."
"As I scrolled through the accounts," Twohey said, "each one punctuated with the #MeToo hashtag, I started to grasp that something very significant was in motion, something that we never could have predicted." The realization moved her to tears...
What about the $20 million donation from CBS?
When Les Moonves exited nearly a month ago, CBS said $20 million -- deducted from any of his severance -- would be donated to advocacy groups within a month. But the company has decided to hit the brakes and hire a firm called Rally "to help advise on the donation process." Now CBS says "the grant recipients will be named by Dec. 14." Variety's Cynthia Littleton has details here...
#MurphyToo airing next week
Brian Lowry emails:CBS has moved up a #MeToo-themed episode of "Murphy Brown," titled #MurphyToo, to air next week. The plot has to do with the title character remembering a past incident after sitting through a sexual-harassment seminar...
FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO
-- Apple v. Bloomberg: "Multiple senior Apple executives... all denied and expressed confusion with a report earlier this week that the company's servers had been compromised by a Chinese intelligence operation..." (BF)
-- Ken Doctor's latest: "With an expanding Wirecutter, The New York Times is doubling down on diversification..." (NiemanLab)
-- Hadas Gold on the government's appeal of AT&T-Time Warner: "How liberal judges could help the DOJ's case..." (CNN Business)
-- HUGE: "Liverpool's highly anticipated match with Manchester City on Sunday will be available to view in one billion homes around the world, according to the Premier League..." (ESPN)
Tribune + McClatchy?
Tronc (about to revert back to its old Tribune Publishing name) is "inching closer to a potential merger with the McClatchy Co.," the NYPost's Keith Kelly reports.
These talks were first reported several weeks ago. Per Kelly, "one source said the parties are 'trying to fast-track it' now that billionaire LA Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong is offering to sweeten a pending deal by kicking up to $150 million in cash into the pot." More here...
NYT is re-running its Trump tax report on Sunday
NYT's Tom Jollytweeted on Friday: "If you missed the "investigative report on @realDonaldTrump's tax history, it will be available on newsstands in the Sunday newspaper, along with a 2016 report on his taxes." It'll be a special section. Times execs can't think of another time when they've reprinted a special report like this...
"Urgent" changes coming to NYT Metro section
Oliver Darcy emails: The NYT's new-ish Metro editor Cliff Levy announced voluntary buyouts as he prepares to lead the section through an "urgent, fundamental change."
Levy said in a memo that he believes Metro "has lost its footing" and that people in the department have been "seemingly clinging to the idea that longstanding practices should be enough to get by in the digital era." To that end, Levy said he will be evaluating reporters and editors based, in part, in their ability to "engage audiences."
Levy told employees he could understand that "this approach may not be for everyone" and said there would be voluntary buyouts for individuals who have been assigned to Metro for at least a year. "I want to emphasize that these buyouts are not intended to reduce the size of Metro," Levy stressed in his note. "We are not cutting slots." Read Levy's full note here...
FOR THE RECORD, PART THREE
By Julia Waldow:
-- The Tow Center's Jonathan Albright says platforms should avoid deleting content... He's advocating for more partnerships among journalists, researchers, and non-profit organizations... (Digiday)
-- Don't miss Jeremy Barr's profile of NBC's very quotable Chuck Todd... (THR)
-- YouTube TV now allows viewers to fast-forward through commercial breaks "on more major channels..." (TechCrunch)
THIS WEEK'S PODCAST
Can 'fake news' be confronted through the courts? This lawyer says yes
On this week's "Reliable Sources" podcast,Michael Gottlieb, a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner, talked with me about holding news outlets accountable for spreading smears and conspiracy theories. Gottlieb represents Aaron Rich, who just settled with the Washington Times. It's remarkable to see how the paper didn't just apologize, didn't just retract its awful editorial about Rich, but even shared the retraction all across social media. So we got into all of it on the podcast... how to use the courts to combat false info, the First Amendment implications, etc. Listen via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or TuneIn...
Sunday's guest list
On this Sunday's "Reliable Sources," I'll be joined by Susanne Craig, Olivia Nuzzi, Frank Sesno, April Ryan, and Brian Karem... Plus Karen Attiah, the Global Opinions editor for the Washington Post, who has been Jamal Khashoggi's editor for the past year.
Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist, has now been missing for more than three days. "The mystery surrounding Jamal's whereabouts comes amid a wave of crackdowns on dissent and activism in Saudi Arabia under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman," Attiah wrote the other day. We'll get an update from her on Sunday morning... Live at 11 a.m. ET on CNN...
Four media events in the next four days
-- The New Yorker Festival is underway in NYC...
-- The second annual "Meet the Press" Film Festival will hold its opening night on Sunday... and continue all day Monday in DC...
-- The VF New Establishment Summit will open Monday night in L.A... I'll be moderating a session on Tuesday...
-- The FOLIO conference for publishing insiders starts Tuesday in NYC...
Darcy's dispatch from The New Yorker Festival
Oliver Darcy emails: Malcom Gladwell kicked off The New Yorker Festival on Friday evening by delivering a pointed 45-minute lecture in favor of having conversations with individuals who hold political views diametrically opposed to that of the status quo. Gladwell was, of course, delivering a lecture in the slot vacated by the cancellation of David Remnick's conversation with Steve Bannon. He argued that conversations are unpredictable and that they can surprise people in unexpected ways, and that they should be had.
During the Q&A portion of the event, Gladwell took a number of Q's on his position regarding Bannon's cancellation. He explained that he was "annoyed" by the controversy surrounding Bannon's appearance because The New Yorker Festival is supposed to be a venue in which various ideas are shared and challenged. Gladwell noted that the audience was educated and fully capable of evaluating ideas for themselves. It was quite the way to kick off the festival... FOR THE RECORD, PART FOUR
By Oliver Darcy:
-- Steve Bannon is scheduled to speak on Wednesday with Bloomberg EIC John Micklethwait at the Bloomberg Invest Summit. I'm told some reporters inside Bloomberg are not very happy about this… (Bloomberg Live)
-- NRATV and frequent Fox News guest Dan Bongino says his "entire life is about owning the libs." When I pointed out how ridiculous it sounds for a grown adult to say that, Bongino called me a "lib snowflake." 🙄 (Mediaite)
Naomi Watts will play Gretchen Carlson
Showtime announced on Friday that Naomi Watts is set to play Gretchen Carlson in its upcoming limited series about Roger Ailes. The eight-episode series, based on Gabriel Sherman's book, will enter production next month.
But here's the thing: "The announcement comes just a few months after it was revealed" that Nicole Kidman will "also be playing Carlson in Jay Roach's upcoming feature about Fox News." And as VF's Yohana Destanotes here, Kidman and Watts are best friends!
She wonders if they'll prep for the roles together. "Thankfully, the projects are in different mediums, so Kidman and Watts won't have to face off against each other in awards races down the line..."
Lowry's weekend TV preview
Brian Lowry emails: It's a big weekend for science fiction and fantasy, albeit with a trio of very different premieres Sunday:
"Doctor Who" arrives on BBC America -- in a worldwide simulcast -- with the first female doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker.
The casting -- which needless to say has generated considerable discussion -- again raises the question of whether adding women into existing franchises is a means of avoiding the riskier bet -- namely, organically developing projects featuring them.
Elsewhere, "The Walking Dead" returns, looking considerably better, while dealing with uncertainty given the upcoming departure of original star Andrew Lincoln.
And Lucasfilm launches the next animated addition to the "Star Wars" universe, "Star Wars Resistance," on Disney Channel. Set shortly before "The Force Awakens," it's a colorful but fairly bland debut, especially compared to the last entry in the genre, "Star Wars Rebels..."
Big big weekend for "Venom"
"Sony's Venom is easily on its way to the best opening ever for October, beating the $55.7M start of Warner Bros.' 2014's Gravity, and headed for an opening that's around $65M off a Friday that's between $27M-$29M," Deadline's Anthony D'Alessandroreports. "Some see it higher, possibly crossing $70M..."