New Stelter Alert!; Fox News suffers historic loss; Les Moonves re-ups at CBS; InfoWars gets White House access


By Dylan Byers and the CNNMoney Media team. View this email in your browser!
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Welcome to the world, Sunny Ray Stelter.

Brian emails from the hospital: “It’s a girl! Sunny Ray Stelter was born on an appropriately sunny day… Sunday, May 21 at 1:24pm… and both mom and baby are doing very well. Sunny is 6 pounds, 13 ounces of joy… already registered for Twitter… no doubt a future newsletter reader.”

Our heartfelt congratulations to Brian and Jamie. This is Dylan Byers filling in for the elated new father…

What’s driving prime time

Late-breaking stories dominating Monday night’s cable news chyrons:

– CNN: British police report fatalities at Ariana Grande concert: “At least 19 people are dead and at least 59 injured in a possible terrorist incident Monday at Manchester Arena in England, where pop singer Ariana Grande was performing, Greater Manchester Police said. “This is currently being treated as a terrorist incident until police know otherwise,” Manchester police said. Developing…

Washington Post: Trump asked intel chiefs to dispute FBI on Russia probe: “President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials.”

Pop quiz: Guess which of these two stories Fox News isn’t covering?

Fox digs a hole

Numbers don’t lie: Fox News is in trouble…

For the first time in 17 years, Fox spent an entire week in third place in prime time in the all-important 25-to-54 year-old demographic. The last time Fox found itself in that ditch, Bill Clinton was president of the United States, Gladiator was in theaters, and Jesse Watters was in college.

The Scoreboard (May 15 – May 19):

– MSNBC was #1 in prime time in both total viewers and the demo, thanks to ratings juggernaut Rachel Maddow. It was also the second most-watched network in all of cable behind TNT, which has NBA Playoffs.

– CNN was #1 in daytime in the demo, and shows from The Lead with Jake Tapper (at 4pm) to AC360 (at 8pm) were #1 in the demo as well.

– Fox News was #3 in prime time in the demo and #2 in daytime in the demo, but held on to first place in total viewers for daytime.

How to read it

1. It’s not a sea change. Not yet. Fox is still #1 for both total day and prime time in the month of May, beating CNN and MSNBC…. But it is cause for alarm.

2. The year from hell is taking a toll: In the last 365 days, Fox News has lost its visionary founder and leader (Roger Ailes), its #1 primetime host (Bill O’Reilly) and its rising star (Megyn Kelly)… It’s been hit by months of negative press… and it has been left to fill the void with a less-than-stellar bench.

3. Rachel Maddow is a force. We’re not having this conversation if Maddow isn’t hosting 9 p.m. at MSNBC. So long as she remains strong, MSNBC remains strong.

4. Advantage: Resistance. In cable news, it always pays to be the opposition party. Especially when the man you’re opposing represents a Category 5 threat for the choir to which you’re preaching.

5. Fox isn’t doing itself any favors. As the pro-Trump network, Fox is forcing itself to ignore or downplay major stories (see above). I’m guessing some Fox viewers are changing the channel just to find out what’s actually happening in Washington.

Hannity’s Seth Rich obsession

Fox News staffers are frustrated and embarrassed as Sean Hannity and other on-air personalities continue to peddle a conspiracy theory about the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, Oliver Darcy reports.

Oliver emails: “Staffers told me that Hannity and others were hurting the outlet’s credibility by peddling the discredited theory.” … “I’m disgusted by it,” one Fox News employee told Oliver. “It drags the rest of us down,” a senior employee said. “ARE WE STILL AIRING THAT S–T?!” one Fox News political reporter messaged The Daily Beast when informed of recent coverage.”

Backstory from Oliver: “Rich was shot to death last July… the Metropolitan Police Department continues to investigate the murder…But for months, right-wing media outlets have floated unproven theories that Rich was the person who provided Wikileaks with thousands of internal DNC emails, and suggested his death was retribution for the supposed leak. No real evidence has been provided to support such claims. “Hannity, who stresses he’s not a journalist, posted a flurry of tweets pushing the theory over the weekend. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Fox News contributor who did not respond to requests for comment, floated the theory on the network Sunday.”

Oliver adds: “It’s worth noting that Hannity has still not reached out to the Rich family, according to the family’s spokesman…”

Monica Lewinsky on Roger Ailes

Speaking of Fox’s dark side, here’s the former White House intern reflecting on what Roger wrought in an Op/Ed for the New York Times:

“Ailes… took the story of the affair and the trial that followed and made certain his anchors hammered it ceaselessly, 24 hours a day…. Their dream was my nightmare. My character, my looks and my life were picked apart mercilessly. Truth and fiction mixed at random in the service of higher ratings. “Just as television news was devolving into a modern coliseum, the internet came along and compounded this culture of shame and vitriol. … Our world — of cyberbullying and chyrons, trolls and tweets — was forged in 1998.”

Bonus: Read Michael Wolff’s dispatch from Ailes’ funeral, where loyalists celebrated in “an act of defiance.”

Tucker’s double standard

Here’s a fun one…

May 5, 2017: Tucker Carlson reacts to a Harvard Shorenstein Center report by Professor Thomas E. Patterson which found that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump received overwhelmingly negative coverage in 2016:

“These independent studies are done by political hacks posing as journalists. The Shorenstein Center? I mean, let’s be— I am a journalist. I sort of know the people who work there. And you’re going to tell me — because, again, I know them — that they are politically independent? Because they’re not.

May 19, 2017: Tucker Carlson reacts to a Harvard Shorenstein Center report by Professor Thomas E. Patterson which found that Donald Trump received overwhelmingly negative coverage in his first 100 days as President:

“Exactly how liberal and how biased is the press? For the answer to that, we have to go to social science. And now for the first time in a while, we actually have some, some real data. A new study from researchers at Harvard University looked at 10 major news outlets and found the overwhelming majority of the new administration’s first 100 days was hostile.”

Nicco Mele, the director of the Harvard Shorenstein Center, emails:

“Curiously two weeks ago Tucker Carlson trashed our early study of general election coverage as liberal bias political hackery, but this study – with the same professor, same staff, same methodology – he praised effusively.”

Fox News hit with 3 additional claims

Wigdor LLP, the law firm representing dozens of current and former Fox News employees, says it has three new clients making claims of racial or sex discrimination or harassment against the network. From Poynter’s Ben Mullin: “The latest claims, from employees at Fox News’ accounting department and Fox News Radio, allege sexual harassment and racial discrimination, asserting that employees were mocked, threatened, passed over for permanent employment and terminated without just cause. The latest lawsuits bring the total count of plaintiffs leveling sexual harassment and discrimination claims represented by Wigdor to 23.”

A Fox News spokesperson emails: “We have consistently demonstrated that the Company is committed to a diverse workplace that is free from all forms of discrimination, takes any complaint of discrimination seriously, and in these particular matters took prompt, effective and, where necessary, strong remedial action. We believe these latest claims are without legal basis and look forward to proving that Fox News at all times has acted appropriately, and lawfully, in connection with these matters.”

For the record, part one
Networks offer taste of TV’s ad future. Hint: Less is longer.

Fox News’s conservative competitors eye O’Reilly: Newsmax, OANN and Sinclair see “an opportunity to turbocharge growth.”

Billy Bush talks ‘Access Hollywood’ tape: ‘I wish I had changed the topic.’

— ‘SNL’ finale has Baldwin’s Trump singing… and ‘The Rock’ running in 2020.
 

‘When in Riyadh’…

Jake Tapper weighs in on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson‘s decision to brief the media in Saudi Arabia on Sunday without members of the American press

“As America’s top representative to the world, [Tillerson] is supposed to publicly demonstrate the importance of free speech and free press…” He is “not exactly leading by example on the virtues of freedom of the press.” Backstory, via Jackie Wattles: “Tillerson held the press conference with the Saudi foreign minister… but it appeared that only foreign reporters were present. Journalists from the United States were left scrambling to figure out what happened. “The State Department later apologized, adding that it couldn’t notify the press in time. … State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond said there was ‘not enough time to alert or make arrangements for U.S. media to participate.'”

Real talk: There “wasn’t enough time” because State didn’t give a rip about giving the media access in the first place.

Breitbart’s ‘other man in the White House’

Matt Boyle gets a Washingtonian profile

“He might seem like an amateur—sniping at competitors, stammering on his big day—but for a 29-year-old who now has the ear of the White House, life doesn’t get much better. Seven years ago, Boyle came to town a rudderless young man in search of a captain and a cause, fell under the influence of powerful figures like Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon, and became a human Molotov cocktail against the political establishment.”

“Sure, he may have spent many of his Washington years as the laughingstock of the political press corps—ridiculed for his fanatical writing, his peculiar personality, and his fawning treatment of Trump. One former colleague of Boyle’s described him as ‘Forrest Gump with a press badge.’ It didn’t matter. By the end, he was flying on Trump’s private jet and interviewing him in the Oval Office.”

InfoWars gets into the briefing room

From Business Insider: “Far-right website InfoWars was granted temporary White House press credentials on Monday… Jerome Corsi, the Washington, DC bureau chief for the site that’s known for its propagation of conspiracy theories about the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Sandy Hook shooting, tweeted a picture of himself inside the White House press briefing room.”

Les Moonves re-ups through 2021

Via Variety: “Leslie Moonves has set a two-year extension of his contract that will keep him at the helm of CBS Corp. as chairman-CEO through June 30, 2021….

“CBS Corp. said the deal calls for Moonves’ base salary of $3.5 million to remain the same during the extension. Last year, Moonves’ ranked among the highest-paid CEOs of a public company with a compensation package of $69.6 million, most of it from stock grants and a $32 million cash bonus.”

Brian Lowry emails: “Moonves joins Disney’s Bob Iger on the list of CEOs having too much fun to retire.” Lowry also notes that Moonves, like Iger, has provided his network with “enviable stability.”

Stephen Colbert talks Trump

CNN Entertainment editor Megan Thomas highlights Colbert’s interview with Frank Rich from this weekend’s Vulture Festival:

“Our politics have become a bastion of vindictiveness,” Colbert said. “People who felt they were being treated cruelly decided to respond with an act of cruelty, and Donald Trump is an act of cruelty. But there needs to be a reckoning…”

For the record, part two
from Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman:

— Facebook flooded with ‘sextortion’ and revenge porn, files reveal: Leaked documents show site struggles with with mammoth task of policing content.

Twitter’s Evan Williams says ‘the internet is broken’ … and he’s trying to fix it.

Layoffs hit the Sacramento Bee as McClatchy prunes staff across the company.

The entertainment desk

Pete Souza’s ‘House of Cards’ moment

Sandra Gonzalez emails: “Former White House photographer Pete Souza hit the fictional campaign trail today in Washington D.C. after being enlisted by Netflix to do a special photo series tied to the return of “House of Cards.” Stars Kevin Spacey and Michael Kelly toured the city in character as part of the stunt. 

Seth Myers waits on Paul Ryan

More from Sandra: “Meyers may have issued an on-air invite to House Speaker Paul Ryan, but the ‘Late Night’ host is not holding his breath waiting for the RSVP…. In a chat with CNN, he talked about why he doesn’t think Ryan will ever take him up on his invite and how his show is coping with the faster-than-ever news cycle.”

Brian Lowry reviews “Twin Peaks” 

Lowry emails: Recognizing that even the two-hour premiere of its ‘Twin Peaks’ revival leaves a lot of questions (and a certain amount of dizziness), Showtime is rather shrewdly making the first four hours available online to try and reel in viewers. Having now seen three hours, it’s still plenty confounding — as if Lynch was determined to serve notice that the concept is still crazy after all these years.”

Billboard Music Awards

In case you missed it, Lisa France has your recap, from Drake breaking records and mending fences to Cher, 71 years old and in pasties and a sheer body suit.  

…and lastly,

Check out today’s New Yorker cartoon, by Kim Warp.
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