Montana’s decision; Megyn Kelly’s promo; Hannity’s vacation; Iger’s post-Disney future; Apple’s big hire

By Tom Kludt and the CNNMoney Media team. View this email in your browser!
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Good evening, folks. This is Tom Kludt filling in for Brian Stelter, who’s learning how to change diapers. Right now, all eyes are out west… 

Montana Special Election: What you need to know

Happy Election Day to the fine people of Montana! Voters there have been heading to the polls all day to decide who will fill the state’s congressional seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Here’s a primer before we buckle in for a late evening of returns:

Polls close at 10 p.m. ET.

CNN Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist expects “it could be a long night before we know the results.”

CNN will be live all night, providing special coverage of the results. Fox News will also provide live primetime coverage.

–Special elections like this historically draw low turnout, which would figure to benefit the Republican in the race, Greg Gianforte. The Democrat, Rob Quist, will be counting on Native American strongholds and Missoula County (another Dem bastion) to deliver a big showing. 

–There has been a dearth of credible public polling on the race, making it difficult to forecast.

–Whether he wins or loses, Gianforte will have to appear in court sometime before June 7 after being charged with misdemeanor assault. 

And that brings us to the potential X-factor in this race…

Will violence against a reporter matter? 

That’s the major question looming over today’s special election in Big Sky Country.

A day after Gianforte allegedly roughed up Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, voters in Montana went to the polls to decide between the Republican charged with assault or Quist.

As Dave Weigel flagged on Twitter earlier, those same voters woke up to front-page headlines in the state’s newspapers that could not have been worse for Gianforte. Multiple newspapers pulled their endorsement of Gianforte in the wake of the assault.

Remember: Jacobs was trying to nail down Gianforte’s position on the GOP health care bill when the candidate lashed out. Montana voters still don’t know where he stands on the issue.

But there’s ample reason to believe that many voters aren’t too bothered about what happened to Jacobs. 

CNN correspondent Kyung Lah spoke to one Republican voter in the state who told her that the audio of Gianforte taking Jacobs down “made me cheer.”

Lah encountered a similar sentiment from another Republican. “You’re lucky someone doesn’t pop one of you,” the voter told her, upon learning that she works for CNN. MSNBC’s Garrett Haake heard the same thing from a voter in Bozeman. “I think reporters have it coming,” the voter said.

If the Trump phenomenon has shown us anything, it’s that the American electorate does not have a deep well of sympathy for journalists. 

And while we’re talking about the president…

The Trump effect? 

HuffPost wasn’t the only one to draw a connection between Gianforte’s violence and President Trump’s angry rhetoric toward the press. Nancy Pelosi, for one, called Gianforte a “wannabe Trump.”

The headline over at CJR made the same point: “Montana House candidate takes ‘enemy of the people’ to its logical conclusion.”

“Trump’s rhetoric from the White House–the largest bully pulpit in the world–has implicitly condoned such behavior,” wrote CJR’s David Uberti and Pete Vernon. 

Longtime GOP operative and steadfast Trump critic Rick Wilson observed that the “Gianforte assault story is one of those moments where the cultural collapse of the GOP into the Trump troll Party is captured.” 

Some conservatives, like the Washington Examiner’s Byron York, rolled their eyes at the parallels. 

“The speed with which you blame Trump for Gianforte assault on Jacobs is probably a measure of how deeply Trump has gotten inside your head,” York said.

Jacobs taunted by conservatives 

Just as some Montana voters enjoyed hearing about a reporter getting manhandled, certain members of conservative media had a similar reaction.

Oliver Darcy emails: Some of the right’s most blusterous voices responded to reports that Ben Jacobs had been assaulted by Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate for congress, with mockery and even approval. Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham seemingly mocked Jacobs for reporting the incident to police, asking on Twitter, “Did anyone get his lunch money stolen today and then run to tell the recess monitor?” Talk radio king Rush Limbaugh repeatedly referred to Jacobs as a “pajama clad journalist” and told his audience he could “guarantee” Jacobs “is smug and arrogant.” And on the fringes, right-wing troll Charles Johnson wrote on Facebook, “I wish more politicians would beat up liberal bloggers.”

Oliver flagged this column from Business Insider’s Josh Barro, who wrote that “Republicans used to claim to favor the rule of law” but “in the Trump era tend to think not like adults, but high school boys, vaunting the sort of ideal of masculinity that might be imagined by a socially maladjusted 15-year-old.” 

Over at WaPo, Chapo Trap House co-host and Weird Twitter Mayor Felix Biederman has a righteous response to the uber-macho conservatives who thought it was wimpy of Jacobs to get the authorities involved.

A representative example came via The Daily Caller’s Derek Hunter: “What kind of a wuss files charges over broken glasses?”

Take it from here, Felix: “It’s more than understandable he felt distraught and called the cops. He was thrown and punched for asking some questions, after all. The insistence that he spit out a cool one liner and saunter off like he’s Raylan Givens, however, exposes his right-wing critics as having virgin hands. Physical fights aren’t choreographed performances; they’re painful and bizarre and usually unexpected, and anybody who’s ever genuinely thrown down could hardly blame Jacobs, a reporter, for being momentarily stunned and then heading in for medical treatment and contacting the authorities.”

Read the rest of his piece here. vs. Fox News TV

The digital arm of Fox News played a critical role last night in corroborating the account of a reporter who claimed to have been body-slammed by a congressional candidate. But on Fox’s airwaves, the bizarre story got scant attention. 

A little more than an hour after Jacobs tweeted about the altercation, CNN and MSNBC had shifted to breaking news coverage on the matter. But not Fox News.

Around the same time that MSNBC’s Chris Hayes spoke to Jacobs by phone and CNN’s Anderson Cooper informed viewers of the Gianforte’s attack, Fox News host Tucker Carlson was interviewing the filmmakers behind a documentary that ridicules political correctness on college campuses. 

Fox finally addressed the assault this morning, and the author of the outlet’s crucial web story — Alicia Acuna — made her first appearance on the network’s airwaves shortly after the 9 a.m. hour. 

Michael Calderone has the story. 

Tapper’s forceful response

Jake Tapper pushed back hard today after the National Republican Campaign Committee basically shrugged off Gianforte’s assault, saying “we all make mistakes.”

“(Mistakes) is what we’re apparently calling misdemeanor assault these days,” Tapper said.

He echoed the editorial board of the Billings Gazette, a CNN affiliate, which retracted its endorsement of Gianforte. 

“We believe that you cannot love America, love the Constitution, talk about the importance of a free press and then pummel a reporter,” the newspaper wrote.

Watch Tapper’s comments here.

A tough race to read — no matter what happens

Nate Silver says that a loss or a slim Gianforte win might be a bad break for Republicans, but it “will be hard to discern the reasons (assault v. AHCA v. Trump).

“One could even argue that a *narrow win* for Gianforte would be the worst case for the GOP because he’ll continue to be a headache,” Silver tweeted. “If Gianforte wins, resignation (or even expulsion?) are plausible consequences down the line. And GOP has to defend his awful behavior.” 

Stelter interviews Committee to Protect Journalists chief

Brian Stelter emails: Committee to Protect Journalists executive director Joel Simon says hostile anti-media rhetoric in the United States impairs press freedom all around the world. “Autocratic leaders feel emboldened,” he told me.

We talked about the committee’s work at home and abroad. This edition of the podcast was taped before Sunny Stelter arrived, but it couldn’t be more timely today… Here’s the direct link so you can listen and subscribe on iTunes…

“Sharp, strong journalism, and the power of NBC News…”

The first promo for Megyn Kelly’s forthcoming newsmagazine aired this evening during “NBC Nightly News.” 

Watch the 15 second spot here.

For the record
Via Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman

–Manafort kept advising the Trump team on Russia even after the investigation began. (Politico)

–CJR asks its readers to help them track layoffs in local newsrooms. (CJR)

–Tweet of the day #wtf. (Twitter

–Walt Mossberg’s last weekly column for The Verge and Recode — it’s the end of an era! (The Verge) 

–Digiday reports on The Atlantic’s new YouTube strategy, “focused on profitability.” (Digiday

–Good read on the Special Projects Desk at Gizmodo, keeping the Gawker spirit alive. (Nieman Lab)

Apple News makes a big hire

Oliver Darcy reports: Laura Kern will leave her role as executive editor of New York Magazine on June 2nd for the Cupertino-based company, New York Magazine Editor-in-Chief Adam Moss announced on Wednesday in a staff memo obtained by CNN…”Apple has the audience — all they needed was a superior editorial intelligence to guide it,” Moss wrote in his memo. “They recognized that that person was Lauren, and of course we know they are right.”

Read Oliver’s full report here… 

Trump’s ‘scripted’ foreign trip

We’re in “the home stretch of @realDonaldTrump’s 9-day, 5-nation foreign trip. Still no press conference,” ABC’s Jon Karl tweets. “POTUS has been entirely scripted.” 

He adds: “When was the last time a US president went on a multi-nation foreign trip and didn’t take any questions from the press? I’ve never seen one.”

More: There have also been “no briefings from senior officials for the large traveling press contingent since Riyadh,” CNN’s Sara Murray adds…

Hannity’s vacation; nothing to see here

Oliver Darcy emails: Kim Guilfoyle announced last night that Sean Hannity was going on vacation for the remainder of the week and said she would be filling in for him on his show. The news immediately prompted speculation about whether Hannity — who has lost several advertisers amid controversy over his promotion of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory — would return (remember, Bill O’Reilly went on vacation amid controversy and never found his way back). But a Fox News spokesperson said this morning that Hannity was only taking a routine Memorial Day break. “Like the rest of the country, Sean Hannity is taking a vacation for Memorial Day weekend and will be back on Tuesday,” the network spokesperson said. “Those who suggest otherwise are going to look foolish.”

Hannity took to Twitter last night to preemptively mock the rumor mill:

Iger talks Pandora, presidency 

Disney World is opening a brand new theme park this weekend, and Bob Iger says it will feature the most advanced ride yet. 

Iger talked to CNNMoney’s Christine Romans about “Pandora: The World of Avatar,” and said that Disney’s technology “can be a real friend in keeping the company relevant and reaching more people in ways that feel contemporary to them.” 

He also shrugged off the gossip that he’s mulling a White House bid in 2020.

“I haven’t made any plans post-Disney,” Iger told Romans.

He added: “I did have a discussion, actually, with President Obama at one point and Mrs. Obama about who had the more fun job. They concluded that I did.

Julia Horowitz has a recap of the interview here… 

Chloe’s latest

Chloe Melas emails the latest on Chris Cornell’s funeral, which will be held tomorrow at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in L.A: It will be a private service that begins at noon but they are allowing fans to visit the grave site later that afternoon. I spoke with Chris’ longtime friend, Eric Esrailian, who will deliver his eulogy tomorrow. He said he hopes to shed a light on what a family man Cornell was and that the man he knew would never knowingly take his own life. He believes, along with Chris’ wife, Vicky Cornell, that prescription drugs contributed to his death. The toxicology results have not yet been released. For a real tearjerker, Vicky penned this emotional open letter to her husband in which she states she will ‘fight’ to preserve his memory.

Read her story here.

Lowry’s reviews

Brian Lowry emails his latest reviews, as summer movie (officially) begins:

Although blockbusters have become a year-round affair, with a big hit (“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”) and a huge flop (“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”) this month, Memorial Day weekend still kicks off the summer movie season.

This summer opens, perhaps appropriately, with a sequel and an adaptation of a TV series. The fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” film, subtitled “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” tries to reclaim past magic, but in part feels like an ode to star Johnny Depp’s well-publicized money troubles. “Baywatch,” meanwhile, is a misguided R-rated comedy that will put the appeal of Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron to the test.

The entertainment desk
Via Lisa Respers France:

-Sarah Hyland of “Modern Family” knows she is looking very thin right now, but she’s refuting speculation she has anorexia. The actress says she’s been on bed rest and unable to work out to maintain her muscle tone due to an undisclosed illness.

–Star Val Kilmer is just as excited by the “Top Gun 2” news as you are. He’s ready to reprise his role opposite Tom Cruise.

–The new GLAAD studio study on LGBTQ representation is no hooray for Hollywood. According to the organization the seven largest studios and their subsidiaries are not doing a good job in terms of featuring LGBTQ characters in their films.

“Star Wars” debuted 40 years ago Thursday. Here’s some fun trivia to help you celebrate that.

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