Media use coverage of Bush funeral to criticize Trump

Many journalists used their reporting and commentary on the death of President George H.W. Bush as an opportunity to attack President Trump. Columbia Journalism Review’s daily newsletter stated: “In Bush’s case, that coverage has been dominated by favorable comparisons to President Trump.” That was an understatement. CNN turned to reliably liberal Patti Davis, President Reagan’s … Continue reading “Media use coverage of Bush funeral to criticize Trump”

Many journalists used their reporting and commentary on the death of President George H.W. Bush as an opportunity to attack President Trump. Columbia Journalism Review’s daily newsletter stated: “In Bush’s case, that coverage has been dominated by favorable comparisons to President Trump.”

That was an understatement.

CNN turned to reliably liberal Patti Davis, President Reagan’s daughter, to criticize President Trump. She predictably complained about “the loss of dignity associated with the presidency under President Trump.” CBS reported the pivotal news that “the Trumps and Clintons did not shake hands.”

Please stop the presses.

ABC decided to turn the coverage of President Bush’s death into a depraved liberal fantasy and tried to envision what Trump’s funeral would be like. "It will be the best presidential funeral ever. No one will ever have seen anything like that funeral," ABC News correspondent Terry Moran said, mocking President Trump.

NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell said it was “extraordinary” seeing President Trump “sitting with the former presidents paying tribute to a leader whose humility and decency is different from today's politics.”

Journalists all wanted in on the action. The Washington Post needled Trump for not reciting a prayer and used it as a chance to make fun of the “faith and values of Trump.” The story included a 46-word attack sentence that said “many religious conservatives embraced him, despite what critics say is his dishonesty, philandering, crudeness and policies many see as anti-Christian.”

The Post also made fun of the president for using a limousine to go a short distance to visit the Bush family, though the article later noted the Obamas did the same thing for security reasons. Still we got this gem: “President Trump traveled 250 yards to greet George W. Bush. He used a stretch limo and an eight-vehicle motorcade to make the trip.”

Neutral journalism.

After the funeral, CNN waited just six minutes and 34 seconds to return to its regularly scheduled anti-Trump barrage. And CNN Senior Political Analyst John Avlon didn’t even give Trump credit for keeping a low profile during the event. "I don't think you want to give out too many medals for not screwing up a presidential funeral. The president was on best behavior this week, but that's a fairly low bar," Avlon said.

In one notable exchange, CNN anchors Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon were debating how President Obama should have reacted when President Trump tried to shake his hand.

Lemon, ever taking the low road, told viewers: “I don't think I would shake hands with him. I don't know. I would just … nope, couldn't do it. I'm not that big a person.” Lemon even re-enacted how he would have dissed the president.

Amazingly, Cuomo shamed him, saying it was all about "Me, me, I, I." He concluded: “You're petty and small.”

It was an impressive moment.

2. They also attacked Bush 41: Many journalists didn’t react with the same class that Cuomo chose to exhibit. The media went after the late President George H.W. Bush, just as they had during his life. They also attacked former Vice President Dan Quayle, former Vice President Dick Cheney and the late President Reagan.

Slate even devoted an entire article to kicking President George H.W. Bush’s service dog, Sully. Slate staff writer and curmudgeon Ruth Graham was apparently appalled at the kind words that were tied to a photo of the dog laying in front of the president’s casket. Among the many memorably stupid things Graham said was that it was “a bit demented to project soul-wrenching grief onto a dog’s decision to lie down in front of a casket.”

“This is simply a photograph of a dog doing something dogs love to do: Lie down,” Graham wrote. And this is just what journalists do, attack anything and everything on the right. Even service dogs.

HuffPost claimed that Bush had caused “Catastrophic Harm To LGBTQ People.” Several outlets accused Bush of being “racist” for running the infamous Willie Horton ad, which was actually run by a third-party group.

MSNBC tried to get both Bush and Trump by comparing ads and talking about how the “dog whistle politics” had gotten worse under the current administration.

Former conservative turned MSNBC host Joe Scarborough complained that conservatives dared to remember how much the media hated Bush. Morning Joe himself tried to rewrite the history: “It was like Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill had a deal that they fought like hell every day. And then at 6, they put it to the side.”

Hardly. The press attacked Bush, tried to destroy Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas and did destroy Quayle … over a typo.

The only difference from then to now is that the press is far worse now.

3. Another bad week for media: The story about former CBS CEO Les Moonves continues to get more horrifying. The New York Times reported new details about the network investigation. “Investigators wrote that they had received ‘multiple reports’ about a network employee who was ‘on call’ to perform oral sex on Mr. Moonves.”

Moonves was one of the most powerful men in TV before his fall. The question now is whether the investigation will end other careers, too.

That wasn’t all of the bad news for the news media. Journalism took it on the chin this week. Mic was sold for a pittance, the right-leaning Weekly Standard appeared it may close its doors and Bloomberg might be laying off all of its political staff.

Mic, one of the popular web start-ups, collapsed from a peak valuation of $100 million to selling for just $5 million. The Weekly Standard, popular with right-leaning anti-Trump readers, was trying to stay alive despite reports of its demise.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who spends tens of millions of dollars to fund anti-gun groups, is prepping for a possible presidential run. He expressed possible interest in having his massive media enterprise “not cover politics at all.” “Quite honestly,” reported Buzzfeed, “I don’t want all the reporters I’m paying to write a bad story about me,” he said in a radio interview.

Then there was a huge error at NPR involving the First Son. The public radio network falsely reported testimony that Donald Trump Jr. gave to the Senate. The NPR correction said, in part, an “earlier version of this report mischaracterized an answer Donald Trump Jr. gave to Senate investigators in 2017.” That’s a nifty way to say the reporter screwed up big time.

Dan Gainor is the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. He writes frequently about media for Fox News Opinion. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.

Review: ‘Divide and Conquer’ examines Roger Ailes legacy

Roger Ailes was such a larger-than-life, swaggering figure that he practically overwhelms the attempt to distill his life into a single documentary. “Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes” is filled with fascinating insights about the late Fox News CEO, but in ways feels as if it only scratches the surface of his influence, and perhaps especially, the most corrosive aspects of his legacy.

Working with producer Alex Gibney, director Alexis Bloom begins at the 2016 Republican National Convention, where Ailes’ life’s work seemingly came to fruition with the nomination of Donald Trump — juxtaposed, remarkably in terms of the timing, against Ailes’ ouster from Fox amid sexual-harassment allegations.The narrative then returns to Ailes’ upbringing in Ohio, his humble beginnings in TV and his segue into conservative politics working on behalf of Richard Nixon and others, recognizing early on — as he’s shown telling Mike Wallace in an interview — that “the skillful use of television” will be vital to candidates at every level going forward.

    The documentary cites a tentative draft during that period outlining plans for a Republican TV network, one that would allow conservatives to present their message while bypassing the critical scrutiny of the mainstream press. After his experiment at NBC in launching the cable channel America’s Talking, that’s essentially what Ailes did when Rupert Murdoch turned him loose at Fox News, creating an entity that synthesized his political objectives and commercial considerations into one hugely influential force.That creation, and its massive repercussions, serves as the crux of the title “Divide and Conquer.” As more than one associate suggests, Ailes had a knack for reading a room, and understood how to prey upon people’s apprehensions — an approach illustrated by a montage of Fox fear-mongering — to win their support and loyalty, either as viewers or voters.Read MoreBeyond interviews with friends, colleagues and critics, the filmmakers provide additional insight through Ailes’ own words, as read by actor Peter Gerety.Still, Bloom devotes a significant portion of the project’s second half to Ailes’ bullying of local officials in his small town of Cold Spring, N.Y., and the alleged sexual misconduct that led to his downfall, including internal details about his strategizing to professionally survive the accusations.Those stories are obviously necessary, demonstrating how Ailes abused his position and power in revolting ways. In a sense, though, his egregious private behavior draws the focus away from the damage he inflicted on media and politics — seamlessly wedding the two, while endeavoring to discredit established outlets in a manner that benefited Fox.The effects of those efforts are summed up by journalist Sarah Ellison, who observes that it’s “unthinkable that Donald Trump as a candidate would exist” without the assiduous way in which Ailes paved the way for him.”Divide and Conquer” also recounts how Ailes stoked fear within Fox News — where rumors swirled that he was listening in on employees — and how Murdoch, happy to bask in the profits, left him alone, later downplaying the harassment allegations that eventually sunk his career.As CNN anchor and Fox alum Alisyn Camerota points out, the 2016 election should have been a “crowning moment for Roger.” Instead, he watched the final stages of the campaign from outside the network he built, before dying in 2017.Having lived with hemophilia, Ailes was well aware of his own mortality. Glenn Beck, a Fox News star before leaving the network, quotes his former boss as saying, “When I go, people are gonna say awful thing about me.”

      “Divide and Conquer” is well worth watching, underscoring the power Ailes wielded at the enterprise he ran for 20 years like a virtual kingdom. The key disclaimer would be that while presenting Ailes’ life and influence, the film devotes less time than it should to contextualizing the lingering consequences of his reign.“Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes” premieres in theaters and on iTunes and Amazon on Dec. 7.

Trump voters were ‘gullible’ in 2016 election, NBC’s Chuck Todd says

NBC News and MSNBC host Chuck Todd earlier this week blamed “gullible” voters for President Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Todd, along with NBC colleagues Andrea Mitchell and Hallie Jackson, speaking on the Recode Decode podcast, attributed Trump's win to his campaign’s “gaslighting,” or psychological manipulation, of voters and to the “unfair” media.

“I knew the gaslighting was out there. I knew it was every day,” Todd said. “But I think there was part of me in my head assumed people were discerning it out, knew the BS from the non-BS. So, I think what my sort of shock to the system was just sort of how gullible a big chunk of the country was to this and gullible because maybe they want to be gullible.”

"I think what my sort of shock to the system was just sort of how gullible a big chunk of the country was to this and gullible because maybe they want to be gullible."

— Chuck Todd, NBC News

Mitchell acknowledged that Clinton made “mistakes that were self-inflicted,” but continued to lay blame on the “unfairness of the media,” James Comey and the Russians, the Washington Times reported.

“I think [Hillary Clinton] had her opportunities and, for whatever happened externally from Comey and the Russians and a lot of other things, and the unfairness of the media, the conventional media putting so much attention on Trump and squeezing out the legitimately serious stuff she did,” Mitchell said.

Todd recently fantasized on his MSNBC show about how America would look if Hillary Clinton had defeated Trump in 2016.

“Lots of people would probably be happy today," Todd said in an “MTP Daily” segment. “Donald Trump would be happy. He could have built his Moscow tower with his bestie Vladimir Putin and no one would have cared.”

The president, meanwhile, hasn't held back from criticizing Todd, whom he referred to as "Sleepy Eyes" in a Sept. 4 tweet.

"Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd of Fake NBC News said it’s time for the Press to stop complaining and to start fighting back," the president wrote then. "Actually Chuck, they’ve been doing that from the day I announced for President. They’ve gone all out, and I WON, and now they’re going CRAZY!"

Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report.

WikiLeaks requests dismissal of DNC lawsuit, citing First Amendment rights: reports

Lawyers for WikiLeaks asked a federal judge on Friday to dismiss a Democratic National Committee lawsuit over the anti-secrecy group's publication of party data during the 2016 presidential election, citing its constitutional rights, reports said.

“WikiLeaks’s conduct — publishing truthful information of public concern as a media organization — is protected by the First Amendment,” WikiLeaks lawyer Joshua Dratel wrote in a 33-page motion filed in New York City, according to the Washington Times.

Dratel called the DNC's lawsuit an “existential threat” to the organization.

He said that if the Democrats were successful in thwarting WikiLeaks, all that would remain would be "a shell of the First Amendment," with a self-censoring media intimidated by the fear of lawsuits, according to Court House News.

Dratel said a DNC victory would have a "chilling effect" on the press' exercise of constitutionally protected speech.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY FILES SUIT ALLEGING CONSPIRACY BY TRUMP CAMPAIGN, RUSSIA, WIKILEAKS TO SWAY 2016 ELECTION

But Democrats pushed back on WikiLeak's argument on Friday.

“WikiLeaks engaged in an unlawful conspiracy with a hostile foreign power, and illegal activity isn’t protected by the First Amendment,” Adrienne Watson, the DNC's deputy communications director, told the Washington Times.

“Beyond being wrong on the law, WikiLeaks‘ attempt to make this into a defense of press freedoms is offensive. The organization has allied itself with an autocratic regime that kills journalists, and together they helped elect a U.S. president whose hostility towards the free press has no precedent in American history," she said.

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In April, the Democratic National Committee filed a civil suit against Trump campaign officials, the Russian government and WikiLeaks, alleging a widespread conspiracy to help then-candidate Donald Trump win the election.

"The conspiracy constituted an act of previously unimaginable treachery: the campaign of the presidential nominee of a major party in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the Presidency," said the suit, which was filed in federal district court in Manhattan.

The suit claims WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange “shared the defendants’ common goal of damaging the Democratic Party in advance of the election,” stating Russia, using WikiLeaks, would disseminate information stolen from the DNC “at times when it would best suit the Trump campaign."

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign argued that the DNC's claim of a conspiracy regarding the 2016 election didn't hold water as far as the campaign was concerned — noting that the DNC cites only Russia and WikiLeaks in its accusations, and not the Trump campaign.

"The DNC does not claim the campaign had any role in hacking its systems and stealing the materials — it attributes that only to Russia," the campaign's filing says, according to Bloomberg. "Nor does the DNC claim the campaign played any part in publishing the stolen materials — it attributes that only to Russia and WikiLeaks."

Fox News’ Barnini Chakraborty contributed to this report.

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.

With Kevin Hart off the Oscars, what will ABC and the Academy do now?

The Academy and its television partner, ABC, need a new host for the 2019 Oscars, stat.

And they need to explain why they didn’t see this Kevin Hart controversy coming a mile away. His old tweets and stand-up routines were in plain view all along.Hart said Thursday night that he was stepping down as host of the Oscars just two days after he took to Instagram to announce that he got getting the job. In the statement, he apologized for homophobic tweets and comments from his past.

    “I’m sorry that I hurt people,” he said in a tweet.But it was Hart’s refusal to apologize, earlier in the day, that stoked criticism and worsened the situation. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences knew it had a problem. Read MoreWhether Hart jumped or was pushed, his exit solved one problem but created another. That’s because the organization now has to line up a replacement — unless the producers decide to try holding the awards show without a host. If so, it wouldn’t be the first time.When the Academy has a problem, ABC has a problem too. The two organizations work together on each year’s Oscars show. It is typically the highest-rated non-sports telecast of the year in the US.The Academy extended its deal with ABC back in 2016. The deal now lasts through 2028, an incredibly long-term contract by the standards of the TV business.The Academy has the “final say on producers, hosts and other production decisions,” Variety reported at the time, “with ABC maintaining some input but ultimately deferring to the Academy.”ABC’s parent company Disney is famously controversy-averse. The network takes its family-friendly brand very seriously. And the network makes more than $100 million in ad revenue from each year’s telecast. So, to put it simply, it’s not surprising to see Hart parting ways with ABC and the Academy.But so far neither entity has commented on the matter. ABC’s “Good Morning America” covered Hart’s exit as an “Oscars bombshell” on Friday morning, just like other networks.Hart was named the 2019 Oscars host on Tuesday evening.”For years I have been asked if I would ever host the Oscars and my answer was always the same…I said that it would be the opportunity of a lifetime for me as a comedian and that it will happen when it’s suppose [sic] to,” he wrote on Instagram. “I am so happy to say that the day has finally come for me to host the Oscars. I am blown away simply because this has been a goal on my list for a long time.”Fellow comedians applauded the Academy’s pick. But by Thursday morning, some of Hart’s past statements and jokes were recirculating on social media. Hart, on tour in Australia, deleted some of his tweets.Industry notables like Billy Eichner and Indya Moore spoke out and said that Hart should do more. Moore tweeted at the Academy and said “please don’t let this go ignored.”Hart then posted two Instagram videos, both of which were defiant in tone. In one of the videos, he said he’d already addressed his anti-gay comments in the past, and suggested he didn’t need to revisit the issue now. He also claimed that the Academy had insisted he issue an apology, but said he didn’t want to reward internet “trolls.”His response seemed to make a bad situation worse. Come Thursday evening, the influential gay rights and media advocacy group GLAAD said it had reached out to ABC, the Academy and Hart’s management team “to discuss Kevin’s anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and record as well as opportunities for positive LGBTQ inclusion on the Oscars stage.” Hart posted his “stepping down” announcement right around midnight Eastern time.”Quite a day,” journalist and author Mark Harris, who’d been highly critical of Hart, wrote on Twitter. “When the history of this is written — tomorrow — don’t believe anything that cites trolls or ‘political correctness’ or a ‘mob.’ This was human beings, standing up for themselves and/or those they care about.”

      Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, said on CNN’s “New Day” Friday morning that she was disappointed by the outcome because “we were hoping that this was going to turn into a teachable moment.”The hope, she said, was that “Hart would still be hosting the Oscars,” and would use the powerful Oscars stage “to help build unity and awareness.”

MSNBC’s Brian Williams: ‘It was impossible’ to listen to Bush eulogies and not think of Trump’s funeral

On Thursday night, MSNBC anchor Brian Williams offered some of his takeaways from Wednesday’s funeral service for President George H.W. Bush.

Williams began by analyzing the fact that President Donald Trump wore an overcoat to the funeral and handed it to the uniformed officer, who he described as “acting as an escort.”

“What’s going on there?” Williams asked.

Bloomberg opinion executive editor Tim O’Brien expressed to Williams that he believed clothing is Trump’s “armor.”

‘It was impossible to listen to the eulogies and not take some of it as a kind of comparison to the sitting president’

— Brian Williams

“Why didn’t he just leave the coat, the overcoat in the back of the seat?” O’Brien said. “And he’s worn the same outfit since the 80s. You know, he’s almost like he’s been cryogenically frozen.”

“It’s a logo, it’s a look that he wants to project,” Williams added.

“And I think the look that he wants to project is ‘powerful, Fortune 500 CEO.’ That’s his approximation of it,” O’Brien continued. “Of course, it’s almost a cartoon, a cartoonish version of that. It ultimately gives him security and also think it enforces- it allows him to keep people at a distance. And that’s really the interesting thing about him because for all the bluster and all of the bravado and the braggadocio, he’s a deeply insecure person. And so these costumes he wears insulate him from that. And I thought it was extraordinary that at this event, in the National Cathedral with all of the pomp and circumstances involved in it, he couldn’t just strip that off and leave it be.”

Williams began by analyzing the fact that President Donald Trump wore an overcoat to the funeral. (Reuters)

Williams noted that Trump “did not participate in the service at all” when the other former presidents and first ladies read the Apostles’ Creed and “the way he carried himself,” describing Trump’s posture and how he had his hands together and how he was “rocking at one point.”

“It was impossible to listen to the eulogies and not take some of it as a kind of comparison to the sitting president,” Williams told O’Brien. “It was not intended that way, I’m certain. But people thought he looked petulant. People thought he looked angry at the content of the eulogies.”

O’Brien seemed to agree, saying that many of things that were said about George H.W. Bush are “not a description of who Donald Trump is” that he must have been “aware” of that during the service.

“So he’s sitting there and he has to know at some day in the future, whenever that occurs, he’s going to have a state funeral and it’s likely these same sort of things aren’t going to be said about him,” O’Brien said. “And so I wondered watching him where does that go, you know, in his mind as an adult man in the world right now. And my estimation where it goes is probably nowhere. Donald Trump is 72 years old. He is not somebody at this point who is going to change.”

Judges grill DOJ on claims that District Court erred in approval of AT&T-Time Warner merger

A panel of three appellate judges aggressively questioned the Justice Department Thursday over its argument to overturn District Court Judge Richard Leon’s approval of AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner.

The oral arguments took nearly a full hour longer than originally scheduled, with judges encouraging attorneys to keep talking even when they reached their time limits.At a hearing in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judges Judith W. Rogers, Robert L. Wilkins and David B. Sentelle grilled the Justice Department’s attorneys about their contention that the original decision was incorrect.

    The Justice Department has claimed in its appeal that Leon committed “fundamental errors of economic logic and reasoning” in his decision and “discarded the economics of bargaining.”Leon was “myopically focused” on the likelihood of a blackout, Justice Department attorney Michael Murray argued, saying that the judge failed to consider that the mere threat of one can inflict damage on competition. Read MoreThe appellate judges expressed skepticism of the government’s theory that AT&T and Time Warner would have increased leverage over competitors as a merged company because it could threaten to blackout its content — like CNN, TNT and TBS — and gain new customers for its own platforms, like DirecTV, as a result.Judge Rogers, a Clinton appointee, said that the “dramatic change in the last five years” of the media landscape supports the District Court’s opinion that the combined AT&T and Time Warner wouldn’t want to blackout its content on other distributors because it would want to maximize distribution, an argument AT&T made during trial.While the deal may have been motivated by a media environment that is changing rapidly, Murray said the “incentives remain the same” for a super company to threaten a “blackout,” in which it withholds content from distributors, in order to cripple rivals. Judge Wilkins, an Obama appointee, pointed out that an arbitration agreement offered by Turner that would protect distributors from blackouts helps take care of that concern. “You said the district court clearly errs because the blackout threat wouldn’t change…but yet in post-merger world there are these contracts that have been offered for arbitration that weren’t there before and the district court seemed to rely on those contracts. So how can we just ignore that and say the district court has irrationally switched positions?” Wilkins said. An attorney representing 27 antitrust scholars who have weighed in on the case as “amici,” or “friends of the court,” argued that the District Court judge showed “serious confusion” regarding an important economic bargaining theory, the Nash model, used in the decision. Leon, the attorney argued, should have been concerned with the stakes of the blackout, as in what would happen in the chance of a blackout, versus the odds of one happening, which is what the attorneys said he focused on.During the arguments by AT&T’s counsel, Peter D. Keisler, the judges asked very few questions, and those that they did ask were mainly for clarification. While Keisler spoke, Judge Sentelle, a Reagan appointee who had aggressively questioned the DOJ earlier in the hearing, often nodded in approval. Keisler devoted most of his time to attacking the DOJ’s economic model that was put forward in the trial, arguing that it was both unreliable and failed to show an adverse effect of the merger. “Economic models have to be shown that they’re valid,” he said.Judge Rogers specifically focused on the arbitration offer that would in theory take care of any blackout concerns for seven years, asking how solid it was and whether there was any “uncertainty” around it. Keisler insisted that the arbitration agreement is indeed ironclad, saying that AT&T is “absolutely committed” to it and even joking that the company did not have its fingers crossed when the deal was made.Judge Wilkins asked the most questions of AT&T’s counsel, pressing especially on whether by affirming Leon’s decision the panel would be throwing away an important antitrust legal precedent, the Copperweld case decided by the Supreme Court in 1984.An attorney representing a different group of amici, antitrust scholars, granted time by AT&T, spoke on behalf of AT&T’s case as well.The judges did not announce when a decision would be made. AT&T completed its acquisition of Time Warner in June and renamed the company WarnerMedia, which is CNN’s parent company. The three judges will now assess whether Judge Leon’s decision was indeed flawed, with most observers expecting a decision to come early next year.

      For the government, the appeal marks round two in a legal battle that began more than a year ago, when Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division revealed that it would challenge the merger. Delrahim attended Thursday’s hearing, which lacked the buzz of the trial’s opening day in March. The hearing attracted other familiar faces, including the lead trial attorneys for each side: Daniel Petrocelli for AT&T and Craig Conrath for the DOJ, who could be seen speaking congenially with one another before entering the courtroom.

NYT: CBS still paying legal settlement over allegations of sexual assault by ’60 Minutes’ legend Don Hewitt

Sexual misconduct allegations at CBS have dominated headlines in the last year, but that behavior may have a long history.

The New York Times reported Thursday that the company continues to pay a settlement to a woman who accused “60 Minutes'” founding executive producer Don Hewitt of sexually assaulting her and destroying her career.Hewitt died in 2009, but The Times reported that CBS continues to pay the unidentified woman a substantial —and growing — settlement. The settlement was reached initially in the 1990s, according to The Times, for $450,000 in exchange for her silence. That sum was amended six times, including once in 2018, bringing it to a total exceeding $5 million — “plus annual payments of $75,000 for the rest of her life.”

    The revelation appears in a draft report on workplace culture at “60 Minutes” for the CBS board, according to The Times. The Times said Thursday that the draft report says, “the physical, administrative and cultural separation between ’60 Minutes’ and the rest of CBS News permitted misconduct by some ’60 Minutes’ employees.”CNN has not reviewed a copy of the draft report.Read MoreThe man who replaced Hewitt as leader of the newsmagazine, Jeff Fager, was fired in September amid accusations of inappropriate conduct.Fager firmly denied the allegations.

      The specific reason for Fager’s dismissal, however, stemmed from a text he sent to Jericka Duncan — one of the CBS reporters who had been covering the fallout from Ronan Farrow’s investigation of Fager and former CBS CEO Les Moonves.The Times said the investigation’s report is set to be presented to the CBS board next week.

Midterm election night lasted one month. Harry Enten explains why.

Midterm election night was really just the beginning. At the end of the night’s nonstop news coverage, the picture was incomplete, with millions of votes still to be counted.

Now, one month later, the picture has been filled in, and the results are more positive for Democrats than initially believed. And that’s prompting some conversations in newsrooms about how to cover election nights differently in the future.Perhaps journalists need to be “more transparent” on election nights “and admit where we don’t necessarily know where everything’s going to end up,” Harry Enten said on this week’s “Reliable Sources” podcast.

    Enten, who runs The Forecast for CNN, did see it coming. On election night, his model-based forecast showed the Democrats with a net gain of 35, well ahead of the 23 seats the party needed to regain control of the House of Representatives.Based on his forecast’s margin of error, he said on CNN that the Democrats could see a “net gain of over 40 seats.”Read MoreOn Thursday, exactly one month after the November 6 midterms, the Democrats hit 40, when Republican David Valadao conceded to Democrat TJ Cox in California’s 21st Congressional District.The GOP, of course, held the Senate and gained two seats there. But the Democrats chalked up big gains in the House and in gubernatorial races. The complete picture is a deeper shade of blue than it seemed on election night.That’s because voting patterns “have changed tremendously over the past dozen years,” Enten said.Listen to the whole podcast here:CNN was inspired to produce a special night of followup coverage, called “Election Night in America Continued,” one week after November 6, to reassess the nationwide map of red and blue results.In states like Arizona and California, there were huge numbers of mail-in ballots and absentee votes, “and it takes a long time for those votes to be counted,” Enten said. And “those later votes that came in, especially this year, were more Democratic leaning. So the story that you got told on election night was perhaps — although not favorable towards the Republicans — was perhaps a little less negative for them.”President Trump attempted to declare victory the day after the election, touting the Senate gains and downplaying the House losses.In the month since then, the Democrats’ net gain has widened from 28 seats to 40 seats. The results of one race, in North Carolina’s ninth congressional district, are still up in the air. On Thursday Democrat Dan McCready withdrew his concession while investigators probe allegations of election fraud.Enten said there’s a “slew of evidence” pointing to fraud in that particular race. He predicted that there will be another election in the congressional district.Ever since election night, there’s been a debate about whether the Democrats’ gains constituted a “blue wave.”Enten votes yes. “Democrats are gonna end up with 235 seats,” he said. “That’s a larger number than they had after the 2006 wave, right. That was definitely called a wave.”Predictions of a “red wave” advanced by some right-wing commentators were bogus — although, Enten said, “they were trying to hype up folks. They were trying to sell them something that they wanted to hear.”He also pointed out that overall voter turnout was way higher than what was expected.”There were four to five million more votes out there to be counted than we actually thought,” Enten said, many of them in California, where it took a long time to count.”California has a ton of vote by mail, and they have to open up these packages individually. They then have to scan these ballots in one by one. It takes a long time,” Enten said.Perhaps the votes would be counted more quickly if the state decided to invest more money in elections, Enten said. But he emphasized the importance of accurately counting votes over the need to quickly get answers.We live in a society, he said, where “we want the here and now — you know, we need that fast food now. We want that delivery now. We want that phone to deliver that message now. We need that broadband that is faster and faster and faster.” But administrating elections takes time.”If you go back and you watch the election night coverage from say 1968 or ’60 or whenever, you would see it took a long time to count those votes,” he said.State polls and sophisticated models like Enten’s performed well in the midterms, according to multiple assessments in the past month.In a recent column for CNN.com, Enten said that public polling passed the 2018 test “with flying colors.”But not all polls are created equally. Enten said “the pollster who should be noted for being off the mark is Rasmussen Reports.”Rasmussen has a reputation for being rightward leaning. “You look at that final generic House poll and they had the Republicans, I believe, leading by a percentage point,” Enten said. “The national House vote ended up being Democrats winning by between eight and nine percentage points.”Nevertheless, Rasmussen is one of Trump’s favorite polling sources. Trump tweeted approvingly about a Rasmussen approval poll on Wednesday night.

      Rasmussen polling does not meet CNN’s reporting standards.Looking ahead to the 2020 election, Enten said pollsters will continue to learn from their successes and weaknesses in 2018, and adjust accordingly.

Reliable Sources: What happened when CNN New York had to evacuate

A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Bomb threat at CNN NYC

    Honestly I’m reluctant to start off this edition of the newsletter with Thursday night’s bomb threat at CNN NYC, because these attempts at intimidation are infuriating and unacceptable. Most bomb threats don’t get much if any news coverage. But Thursday night was different for three reasons. One, the phoned-in threat to CNN came six weeks after the mail bombs targeting CNN and numerous Democratic officials. Two, the offices were evacuated, meaning that CNN had to halt its live programming due to the threat. And three, the NYPD shut down a city block and searched every floor of CNN’s offices as a result.It was a false alarm. There was no bomb. But unfortunately this bomb threat was still newsworthy. Let me take you through it step by step. Read More

    What happened

    Per a law enforcement source, a caller indicated there were five devices in the building. The call came in at 9:47 p.m. ET, according to building security. Officials with CNN’s parent company were alerted. Law enforcement agencies were contacted. “CNN Tonight” went to commercial at 10:26. Don Lemon and his producers were told to grab their coats and evacuate the building. At the exact same minute, two floors below, Rob McLean was told the same thing. He edits this newsletter at night… He promptly headed home to keep working from there. Meanwhile the “CNN Tonight” staff gathered at a restaurant across the street and tried to figure out what to do next.CNN’s master control in Atlanta started to show a rerun of “AC360.” Alert viewers wondered: What happened to Lemon’s show?

    How we went live

    While Lemon’s staff was evacuating, I was downstairs at Whole Foods. CNN NYC is part of a sprawling complex, the Time Warner Center, containing a mall, grocery store, event spaces, hotel, restaurants, apartments, and offices. I heard the sirens and saw an alert on my phone. So I came out to the street — already roped off police — and found staffers from the New York bureau. We tried to connect to CNN Atlanta through my laptop, but it didn’t work, so we set up a live shot signal via my iPhone and the Skype app. It was shaky, but good enough.CNN International anchor John Vause began to anchor from Atlanta. He showed the iPhone live shot, then brought in Lemon by phone. A few minutes later we used the iPhone as our “stand up position,” to use some TV lingo, and stayed there for the rest of the 11 p.m. hour. Pro tip: Make sure your phone battery is always charged. I was at 10%, so I had to borrow a colleague’s mobile charger.”They don’t normally evacuate buildings” because of something like this, Shimon Prokupecz explained. The recent spate of mail bombs must have been a factor in the NYPD’s decision. CNN analyst Sam Vinograd also joined us from the makeshift live shot position. It was freezing, obviously, but the police response was warmly appreciated.

    The all-clear

    The all-clear came at 11:50 p.m., and Lemon and the rest of us walked back into the building. CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker, who was outside on the street with us, updated staffers via an internal memo. “The building is secure and safe for everyone to return in the morning,” he wrote. “We appreciate the swift action by the local authorities, and the patience and professionalism of all the employees who were impacted.”

    Trump’s tweet

    Between the time of the phoned-in threat, 9:47, and the time of the evacuation, @realDonaldTrump tweeted, “FAKE NEWS – THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”So if you thought this specific tweet was a trigger for the threat, think again. But the broader climate of attacks against the news media is undeniable. Let me share with Rick Wilson wrote shortly after midnight ET:”Right now, @realDonaldTrump could tweet the following: ‘Bomb threats against CNN and other media outlets are never acceptable.’ But he won’t.” Read more of Thursday’s “Reliable Sources” newsletter… And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox…

      Back to the news

      Here’s what I liked most about Thursday night’s unusual CNN programming lineup: As soon as Lemon was back on the “CNN Tonight” set, the show moved on to OTHER news. We covered Kevin Hart, Heather Nauert, etcetera. This is something I tried to say during the breaking news coverage out on the street: We didn’t want to “be” the news. We wanted to be covering the news.