Exec summary: Scroll down for the latest on deletions at Facebook, promotions at CBS, complaints at Bloomberg, and more... plus the Washington Post's new ad campaign demanding answers about Jamal Khashoggi...
Trump on "60"
President Trump has turned down all "60 Minutes" interview requests... until now. The president taped an interview with Lesley Stahl on Thursday, according to sources with knowledge of the matter. The sit-down will air this Sunday.
Per one of the sources, crews were seen on Thursday taking gear into the White House, where aides were buzzing about the interview.
A CBS News spokesperson declined to comment. "60" types usually stay tight-lipped about pieces until they're officially announced, and so far only one piece has been announced for this Sunday, a Bill Whitaker profile of a famed nature photographer. This suggests the Trump interview will be a two-parter...
-- CONTEXT: "60" is the most-watched news program in the country, so it's a high-profile platform for POTUS. His last interview on the newsmag was with Stahl, shortly after winning the presidency, well before inauguration day...
Trump has phoned into Fox three times since Saturday
One thing is for sure: Trump has been very chatty lately. When he's not hosting rallies, he's holding press conferences, informal Q&A's, gaggles on Air Force One, etc. And he's been giving interviews too -- mostly to Fox News. He also spoke with the Washington Examiner's Salena Zito this week. And he has "60 Minutes" in the can.
His first Fox phoner this month was on Jeanine Pirro's show last Saturday. Then he called into Shannon Bream's newscast on Wednesday night. When he woke up on Thursday morning, he called in again, this time to "Fox & Friends." The chat went on for 46 minutes. "Go run the country," Steve Doocy said as he attempted to wrap it up.
-- WHAT'S GOING ON: It's pretty simple. "He goes where the praise is," a Trump confidant told me, referring to Fox talk shows like "Hannity" and "Judge Jeanine..."
What about the rallies?
In the past few days, much has been made of Fox's choice not to carry all of Trump's rallies wall to wall anymore. Why the change? Well I think it's pretty obvious: The frequency is the issue. Trump has gone from a rally every week or two, earlier this year, to three or four rallies a week due to the impending midterm. Yes, a Fox News source acknowledged, Trump may feel like he's being snubbed. But Fox is a business first and foremost, and the producers are making logical programming decisions.
After Trump's two phoners on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, a source quipped that "he had to do two interviews to make up for the rally..."
Food for thought
Col. Morris Davis, a military vet and former chief prosecutor at Guantánamo Bay who's now a staunch Trump critic, tweeted the other day, "In Russia, Putin controls the state TV network. In America, the state TV network controls Trump."
Letting Trump be Trump
Politico's Annie Karni is out with a new story about Trump's media blitz, saying it's "driven by the president's natural impulses." She observes that Trump "does not appear to be tying his interviews and media appearances to any policy he is trying to sell -- rather, the press and the spotlight appear to be the ends in and of themselves..."
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE
-- Coming Friday night: ABC's prime time special featuring Tom Llamas's interview with Melania Trump... (ABC)
-- Trump "signed the Music Modernization Act on Thursday at a White House ceremony... The bipartisan act addresses music licensing and royalty legislation, among other issues related to music rights..." (Variety)
-- Joanna Coles is joining CBS News in a part-time capacity as "creative adviser." Initially, "Joanna will be engaged with the 'CBS This Morning' team and will weigh in on other strategic opportunities," David Rhodes says... (THR)
Getting to Mexico Beach by chopper and by boat and by foot...
"Devastation in Hurricane Michael's wake was so severe that it made images of some of the hardest-hit areas in Florida trickle out Thursday as slowly as if from a distant, third-world nation," the AP's David Bauder writes. "Broadcast news organizations faced a challenge in getting reporters to Mexico Beach, 40 miles east of the more populated Panama City, where wind and storm surge left behind a moonscape of damage."
Baldwin's live aerial pictures from Mexico Beach, Florida, were astonishing. "Shortly before noon, Baldwin landed to deliver reports... With cell phone towers blown down, CNN had to use a satellite transmitter to get pictures out. It made for some blotchy pictures and malfunctions, and at one point she said she had to stand in one place to make sure the signal wasn't lost. CNN was also trying to get a reporter to Mexico Beach by boat. Another CNN reporter, Brian Todd, made it in by ground by Thursday afternoon..."
Hiking out of town
ABC's Ginger Zee was one of a handful of journalists who rode out the storm in Mexico Beach on Wednesday. From a (relatively) safe condo building, she watched a home across the street get washed off its foundation by the storm surge. Incredibly, the home owner recognized the building and reached out to ABC on Thursday.
After landfall, Zee was barely able to transmit anything... ABC couldn't get a live signal working in time for Thursday's "GMA..." But George Stephanopoulos reassured viewers that she was okay.
Zee and her crew set out on foot Thursday morning, and hiked out of town until another ABC crew could pick them up... She appeared with Davd Muir on "WNT..."
FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO
-- CBS vet Dana McClintock is now the chief comms officer for CBS Corporation, taking over for Gil Schwartz... (Deadline)
-- Laurie Rosenfield, who joined CBS earlier this year as a SVP for human resources, is now the company's chief people officer, reporting directly to Joe Ianniello. This is about "putting our people first," Ianniello says... (The Wrap)
-- Oliver Darcy emails: After three weeks, Bob Woodward's "Fear" has been unseated as No. 1 on the NYT bestseller list by Tucker Carlson. The Fox host's "Ship of Fools" scored the top spot this week... (NYT)
-- Another one from Darcy: WaPo's Greg Sargent writes about how the social media feeds of major news organizations "continue to inject [Trump's] unadulterated lies into the political bloodstream without clearly informing readers that they are just that — lies..." (WaPo)
-- Speaking of Trump's lies... Daniel Dale says "last week was Trump's second-most-dishonest week in office, with 129 false claims," just four shy of his record... (Star)
On this week's "Reliable Sources" podcast: Les Hinton
Les Hinton started out as a copyboy. He became Rupert Murdoch's right hand man. He worked with Murdoch for 52 years, including as CEO of Dow Jones & Company. And now he's out with a memoir, "An Untidy Life." So I sat down with him for a frank conversation about the Murdoch media empire, the golden age of newspapers, and the future of publishing. Listen here via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or TuneIn...
Kanye rants in the Oval
Oliver Darcy emails: It was the circus everyone knew it would be. The White House allowed cameras into the Oval Office while Kanye West proceeded to deliver a rambling, 10-minute monologue. The president watched (rather emotionless) from behind the Resolute desk. The meeting was supposed to be about serious issues like crime in Chicago, urban revitalization and workforce training. But not much of that shined through. Instead, West ranted about how "Trump is on his hero's journey" and wearing his MAGA hat makes him "feel like Superman..."
It was just plain sad.
Commentators expressed concern for Kanye's mental health and criticized Trump for exploiting him. "That was really sad," S.E. Cupp said on CNN afterward. "I think you had there a man who's clearly not okay, and a president who's willing to who's willing to exploit that."
Later, Don Lemon called it a "minstrel show." He said Kanye needs help, but Trump "is exploiting Kanye, using him to try to reach black voters."
And Anderson Cooper put up a split-screen image of Kanye ranting on the left juxtaposed with images of Michael's devastation on the right. "This isn't even really about Kanye West," Cooper said. "This is about the president sitting there, listening, nodding, laughing, calling Kanye West a 'smart cookie,' saying Kanye West can speak for him anytime, putting on this show, less than 24 hours after the worst hurricane to ever hit the Florida panhandle made landfall..."
Networks warned about the profanity
Oliver Darcy emails: Video from the West-Trump meeting was immediately carried by both CNN and MSNBC when it became available. It aired on Fox News after a few moments. The TV pool had advised networks to be cautious with it because of the profanity, and Fox host Harris Faulkner explained that the channel held the video momentarily while producers dealt with that...
"You can't analyze some of that stuff"
More from Darcy: Immediately after it aired, hosts on CNN and MSNBC seemed baffled at how to respond. "Uhh, pretty extraordinary meeting in the Oval Office over at the White House," Wolf Blitzer said when video of the encounter ended.
Over at MSNBC, Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhlewere also stunned. "That was bonkers," said Velshi who added, "You can't analyze some of that stuff. That was crazy." Ruhle chimed in, calling the whole episode an "assault on our White House."
A gut-check moment
Brian Lowry emails: The Kanye West White House photo op is one of those gut-check moments for news organizations, and the cable networks in particular. It was newsworthy. It was crazy. It mixed a well-known celebrity with politics. It also reflected the kind of shiny, substance-free object that merely distracts from other news -- and indeed, was likely trotted out specifically to serve that purpose. As MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell tweeted, the president "wants you talk about the guy in the red hat all day and night. So are you going to follow Trump's order? Or are you going to try to cover important stories that Trump doesn't want you to cover?"
>> As a footnote, it's also a pretty good Rorschach test for those who tend to dismiss celebrities weighing in on political matters, except of course when they happen to agree with them. As Variety's Ted Johnson put it: "The rule for showbiz and politics: Celebrities who support you: Love it when you speak up. Celebrities who don't: Who cares what they think? They don't know anything."
Cuomo's media critique
On CNN Thursday night, Chris Cuomolabeled the meeting a "traveshamockery," i.e. a "travesty inside a sham inside a mockery." He also called out the press: "Why give it all this hype? Why fan the flames of the foolish?... How is it OK to put Kanye on display like this?"
FOR THE RECORD, PART THREE
By Julia Waldow:
-- WaPo's Ruth Marcus is writing a book on Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation... It will be published by Simon & Schuster... (Twitter)
-- #Thisis18: To mark Thursday's International Day of the Girl, the NYT asked young women photographers around the world to document what life looks like for girls turning 18 in their own communities. The resulting interactive feature, Jessica Bennett and Anya Strzemien wrote, "is a celebration of girlhood around the world -- across 12 time zones and 15 languages, featuring 21 subjects and 22 photographers..." (NYT)
-- After rounds of layoffs and freelancer boycotts, how good are The Outline's odds of survival? Laura Hazard Owen profiles the media company... (Nieman Lab)
-- Instagram is testing a feature that lets users "tap" through posts in the same manner as Stories, Josh Constine reports... (TechCrunch)
Updates on Jamal Khashoggi
The "working assumption" of the US government is that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate in Istanbul, a US official familiar with the latest intelligence told CNN's Barbara Starr on Thursday.
"We are pretty clear eyed it is likely to have happened and it didn't end well," the official said.
Quoting from CNN.com's latest story: "Turkish authorities believe 15 Saudi men who arrived in Istanbul on October 2 were connected" to Khashoggi's disappearance, and "at least some of them appear to have high-level connections in the Saudi government..."
Common sense says that if anyone was able to provide proof of life, they would have done so by now. He's been missing for more than a week, and the murder accusations have been circulating for six days. Still, some of Khashoggi's friends and associates are trying to refer to him in the present tense, hoping for the best while expecting the worst...
Post's ad: "Demand Answers"
The Washington Post, which had been publishing Khashoggi's work for a year leading up to his disappearance, is going to start running print and digital ads to "further push for information on Jamal's case," a spokeswoman told me.
This full-page print ad will appear in Friday's paper:
Four bylines on this story in Friday's paper: "The Turkish government has told U.S. officials that it has audio and video recordings" that prove Jamal Khashoggi was killed, "according to U.S. and Turkish officials." This is obviously highly sensitive intelligence. But one of the sources said Khashoggi and the alleged killers can be heard on the tapes.
"The existence of such evidence would explain why Turkish officials were quick" to blame Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi's killing, the Post said. "But Turkish officials are wary of releasing the recordings, fearing they could divulge how the Turks spy on foreign entities in their country, the officials said..."
They keep dropping
Hadas Gold emails: The "Davos in the Desert" is happening in less than two weeks in Saudi Arabia. But several big names have dropped out of the Future Investment Initiative. Media companies are especially under scrutiny.
The NYT was the first media sponsor to bow out. CNN, CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg and the Financial Times are "monitoring" the situation.
Meanwhile some of the individual speakers and moderators, like Economist EIC Zanny Minton Beddoes, CNBC anchor and NYT columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin as well as L.A. Times owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong have all said they are no longer attending. Expect more individuals and organizations to drop out in the coming days...
FOR THE RECORD, PART FOUR
By Daniella Emanuel:
-- Adam Taylor writes about the "media war" that has ensued in the Middle East following the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi... (WaPo)
-- Brian Steinberg explores how cable news daytime lineups have gained more importance since Trump came into office... (Variety)
-- Marisa Guthrie profiles Martha MacCallum and her work at Fox News. "We have a lot of different voices," she says. "Anyone who treats it as a monolithic voice is clearly not watching..." (THR)
-- Tobias Lindholm, who directed the 2016 Oscar nominee "A War," will be writing a crimes series "based on the probe into the murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall." It's called "The Investigation..." (Deadline)
HADAS GOLD'S SCOOP:
Bloomberg staff sent letter protesting Bannon's invitation to Bloomberg Festival
Hadas Gold emails: Drama around Steve Bannon continues, this time at Bloomberg where last Friday a group of 91 employees sent a letter to EIC John Micklethwait, asking him to rescind an invitation to Bannon for an onstage interview Wednesday at a Bloomberg conference in London. The employees said by inviting Bannon, Bloomberg was amplifying his message of ethnic and economic nationalism and the "harm to our communities -- specifically targeting women, black and Muslim populations, with his tenure at Breitbart and strategies of the Trump presidential campaign."
None of the signatories were from the news division, but Micklethwait met with the organizers of the letter on Monday to hear them out. He told them Bloomberg readers would be served by his interview with Bannon since Bannon is launching an advisory group for populist candidates in Europe. Full story here...
Facebook removes more than 800 pages and accounts ahead of midterms
Americans spreading misinformation on purpose — it's a problem we all see — but it's a very hard thing to tackle. So Facebook deserves credit for trying.
On Thursday, the company said "it had identified 559 pages and 251 accounts run by Americans, many of which amplified false and misleading content in a coordinated fashion. The company said it would remove the pages and accounts," the NYT's Sheera Frenkel reported.
Here's more from Oliver Darcy: FB said the pages/accounts violated its rules "against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior." Increasingly, the company said, spam networks have started using "sensational political content -- regardless of its political slant -- to build an audience and drive traffic to their websites." A Facebook spokesperson would not specify to me how many of the 559 pages and 251 accounts removed were either political in nature or using political messaging to drive up clicks and engagement. The spokesperson stressed the company took action "against behavior violations, not content violations." More here...
Julia Waldow emails: Craig Silvermandebunked a viral story about a man posing as a competitive barefoot runner who asked his neighbors to clear acorns from the sidewalk. Turns out the man was just trolling -- he was caught in the act when having trouble answering questions about barefoot running in a phone interview with BuzzFeed News. The original story was promoted by numerous outlets, including Esquire, Mashable, Fast Company, Gizmodo, and Uproxx, and was mentioned in a column in WaPo...
FOR THE RECORD, PART FIVE
-- I'm behind on my reading! Yesterday the NYT and the LAT both dropped big profiles of Peter Rice. Both stories touched on his Murdoch ties and his future inside Disney... (NYT / LAT)
-- "Kevin Hart has signed a first-look deal with Nickelodeon..." (Variety)
-- "Artist and producer Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson has signed a new four-year overall deal with Starz." More shows on the way... (Variety)
Walmart taps MGM, startup to beef up its streaming video service
Jill Disis emails: It's not quite Amazon Prime Video, but Walmart is following its big retail rival into the streaming video wars. Walmart announced this week that it is partnering with MGM and a startup called Eko to create original content for Vudu, the streaming service Walmart bought nearly a decade ago.
Will the company's plan work? I'm hearing mixed feelings. It's worth pointing out that the streaming video market is getting more and more crowded all the time -- CNN's parent company AT&T just announced its own new service this week. Here's my write-up on the Walmart news...
Lowry reviews "First Man"
Brian Lowry emails: In hindsight, the prerelease controversy about "First Man" -- over planting the American flag on the moon -- looks all the more ridiculous, ginned up by those spoiling for a fight with Hollywood. Director Damien Chazelle has reunited with "La La Land" star Ryan Gosling on a stirring film that not only captures Neil Armstrong's stoic heroism, but which rekindles the sense of wonder and exploration surrounding space as the final frontier. Read Lowry's full review here...
"The Romanoffs" pedigree doesn't join ranks of TV royalty
Lowry emails another one: There's an old truism about avoiding creative talent's next project after a major success -- a lesson Amazon might have learned the hard way with "The Romanoffs." Matthew Weiner has parlayed his success with "Mad Men" into a self-indulgent anthology series, where the slim conceit involves different people who claim to be heirs to the ill-fated Russian royal family. Alas, the series -- or at least the three installments previewed -- doesn't live up to that pedigree. Lowry has a review here...
FOR THE RECORD, PART SIX
By Lisa Respers France:
-- Chloe Melas and I wrote about Selena Gomez having the full support of her friends and family as she seeks treatment for an undisclosed medical issue...
-- Alec Baldwin is being slammed for his "black people love me" comments. According to him black people are crazy about his "SNL" impersonation of Trump...
-- Years after he was accused of groping and humiliating women, Arnold Schwarzenegger now says he "stepped over the line" with women...
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