The Congress News


Murdoch wants Tribune; Bloomberg’s Twitter deal; WGA strike looms; Ripa’s new co-host; DC party weekend; Sam Bee interview; week ahead calendar

By Brian Stelter and the CNNMoney Media team. View this email in your browser!
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Very busy weekend of news… scroll down to catch up! 

Dean Baquet speaks

Some of NYT exec editor Dean Baquet‘s choice words on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources:”

 — Trump treating the media like a punching bag is “dangerous” and “bad for the country…”

 — Regarding Trump claiming, again, that the paper apologized for its election coverage: “He’s making that up. He does that sometimes…”

 — NYT’s new ad campaign is “reminding people of the historic role of the press…”
 — About the controversy over Bret Stephens‘ new column: “Didn’t we learn from this past election that our goal should be to understand different views?”

Scroll down for more from Baquet… plus complete coverage of this weekend’s #WHCD festivities… 
Murdoch’s bid for Tribune Media

Matt Garrahan’s Sunday evening FT scoop:Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox is in talks with Blackstone, the private equity firm, to launch a joint bid for Tribune Media.” Tribune owns 42 local stations, many of them in top markets.

Dylan Byers has confirmed with a source that Blackstone would contribute cash while 21CF would contribute its local stations… Basically creating a local TV powerhouse… That is, if Fox/Blackstone can beat out Sinclair, which has already made a bid for Tribune…

Eyeing the FCC 

Any deal would hinge on the Trump administration’s FCC loosening the limits on local media consolidation. Industry types expect that will happen… and soon…

 >> Brian Lowry‏ tweets: “Rupert sucks up to pol, then seeks to cash in on advantageous regulatory climate. Old dog still up to old tricks.”

Rutenberg’s Monday column…

…Is about Rupert and the Sky deal. “Murdochs’ TV Deal in Britain Hinges on 3 Words: ‘Fit and Proper'” ? 

Strike this week?

It’s been ten years since the Writers Guild of America last went on strike. Now we’re on the verge of a sequel. The WGA’s contract expires on Monday, which means a strike could come as soon as Tuesday… We’ll have full coverage all week long on…

 — The very latest: Variety’s Sunday night update: “WGA, AMPTP to Resume Bargaining Monday Morning as CEOs Keep Tabs on Talks”

Bloomberg creating a news channel for Twitter

Mike Bloomberg and Jack Dorsey will officially announce this at the Bloomberg Media’s Newfront Monday morning >>> 

Twitter has found its first partner for its push into round-the-clock streaming television: Bloomberg,” the WSJ’s Lukas Alpert reports. Bloomberg will produce a 24/7 stream just for Twitter, “broader in focus than our existing network,” Justin Smith says.

Alpert says the channel will be “made up of live news reporting from the news outlet’s bureaus around the world, as well as a curated and verified mix of video posted on Twitter by the social-media platform’s users…”

Media week ahead calendar

 — Monday: The Digital Content NewFronts get underway in NYC… Here’s the full list…
 — Monday AM: Kelly Ripa will announce her new co-host…
 — Monday PM: The Met Gala…
 — Monday PM: Glenn Kessler, Susan Glasser and I will be speaking at the National Constitution Center in Philly…
 — Tuesday AM: Tony nominations will be announced… 
 — Tuesday: Ivanka Trump releases a new book… no press tour, though…
 — Wednesday: World Press Freedom Day…
 — Wednesday: Facebook and Time Warner earnings…
 — Friday: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” lands in theaters…

This weekend in Trump

 — Trump’s attack the messenger approach on Saturday night was mostly a “copy and paste” from his campaign speeches… Here’s what I said on air…

 — Reince Priebus kept the door open to an attempted loosening of libel laws on Sunday… When Jon Karl asked about it, Priebus said the White House is “looking” at making changes, but didn’t commit to anything…
 — Sebastian Gorka, one of the president’s strongest defenders on TV, is leaving his White House job…

 — Programming note: Bill Carter and I will be on “New Day” Monday ’round 6:30am ET… 

Recommended reads 

— CNN’s latest on the crackdown in Turkey: The country “has blocked access to Wikipedia…”

Olivia Nuzzi‘s vivid look at Trump’s “Alternative-Reality Rally…”

Ben Smith‘s in-depth interview with Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman about covering Trump… available as a podcast and as a transcript here…

 — This week’s issue of NYMag has an in-depth guide to the “new-fangled far right…”

For the record, part one

 — MSNBC‘s newest contributor is Glenn Thrush… 

 — The Times-Picayune and The New York Times have formed a “coastal reporting partnership…” (

 — Rick Edmonds reports from the MediaXchange convention:Google and Facebook take center stage at summit for newspaper leaders…” (Poynter)

 — What’s Sean Hannity up to? On Sunday he tweeted, “A lot of time with an army of attorneys. Topics include; libel, slander, defamation, tortious interference. Stay tuned…”

Hearing “what Bret has to say”

Some NYT subscribers claimed they cancelled their subscriptions over the weekend to protest Bret Stephens‘ new op-ed column. And some newsroom staffers voiced concerns about the hire through carefully composed subtweets. Jackie Wattles and Dylan Byers have a recap of the controversy here… 

On Sunday’s show, Dean Baquet reminded everyone that the newsroom is separate from the opinion pages, but he came to Stephens’ defense, saying “I think we should hear what Bret has to say.” And about those newsroom staffers? “I wish they were a little more gracious to a new colleague, even though he doesn’t work in the newsroom…”

Kelly Ripa’s new co-host…?

Via Chloe Melas: One full year after Michael Strahan‘s botched exit from “Live,” Kelly Ripa will be making her long-awaited co-host announcement on Monday morning’s show…

Jamie’s predictions

From special correspondent/my wife/biggest Kelly Ripa fan I know, Jamie Stelter:

Until today I honestly thought she’d keep the show for herself, but now my official guess is Jerry O’Connell, who not only filled in the most this year, but also co-hosted their Halloween special and Oscars coverage (the show’s biggest and second biggest productions of the year). But will he move his family here from L.A.? My next best guess is Scott Wolf, another west coaster, who has also been filling in regularly. But my most reliable sources and I agree: we think he’s kind of a snooze. I had high hopes for Fred Savage and Richard Curtis (teacher from PA who won the co-host contest) early on… and of course for Anderson Cooper or for her to choose a woman (Carrie Ann Inaba? Busy Philipps?)… but my money now is on “Live with Kelly and Jerry.” See you at 9am ET…

 — Caveat: After Jamie wrote this, she told me she thinks it’s going to be a surprise pick! 

Two new Fox News shows debut on Monday

“Fox News Specialists,” co-hosted by Eric BollingKat Timpf and Eboni K. Williams, will officially replace “The Five” at 5pm, and “The Story,” the renamed version of Martha MacCallum‘s show “The First 100 Days,” will debut at 7pm…

 — Video from Sunday’s show: Dylan Byers and Erik Wemple discussing Fox’s challenges on several fronts…


Trump and his aides were absent; Hollywood stars were absent; but everybody else was present for a weekend of just-a-touch-subdued dining and partying. Politico Playbook has all the sightings here. 

NYT’s Michael Grynbaum wrote about the “palpable sense of defiance” during the Trump-less dinner. WWD’s Alexandra Steigrad summed up the mood at the parties. She found the same thing as HuffPost’s Michael Calderone — that lots of journos said they preferred the toned-down, celeb-free weekend…

Two Americas 

Dylan Byers emails: It was Saturday night in two Americas. In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the President of the United States said “media outlets like MSNBC and CNN are fake news” and won frenzied cheers from his crowd. Just over a hundred miles away, in DC, White House Correspondents Association president Jeff Mason declared “we are not fake news!” and won a standing ovation.

It sounded like two armies girding for war — but the reality is that the argument has never felt more tired and shopworn. Trump’s love for — and obsession with — the media is obvious to everyone willing to look…

“Cultural divide”

Trump campaign aide turned CNN commentator Jason Miller called Trump’s media-bashing rally a “masterful stroke” on “Reliable Sources,” telling me “I think the media really played into this whole cultural divide that we’re seeing… too many in the mainstream media just don’t understand and can’t digest what happened last fall with the election.” That remark earned fierce objections from panelists Carl Bernstein, Lynn Sweet, and Tara Palmieri

But we all largely agreed that there IS a divide. “We have almost a state of civic civil war in this country,” Bernstein said, lambasting Trump for doing “nothing to bring the country together.” I highly recommend watching the segment here…

Think about the story Trump is telling

Up at the podium, Trump reprised one of his favorites from the campaign, a poem called “The Snake” that instills and reinforces fear of immigrants and other outsiders. At the end of the aforementioned “Reliable” segment, Tara Palmeri made a great point about Trump’s storytelling prowess…

“He tells his story better probably than anyone else — but he tells a very simple story — and there are a lot of holes in it, and it’s our job to find the holes.” She suggested journalists need to “be better at telling our stories” and “showing the holes in a way that is simple…”

First Amendment pins 

More from Dylan… his takeaway from the weekend: Not in recent memory has the media seemed so emboldened and sure of its purpose. News out of Washington seems more central to the lives of Americans than it has in at least a decade. First Amendment rallying cries have found new life as marketing slogans. (And the WHCA handed out First Amendment pins to dinnergoers on Saturday.)

What did you think of Hasan Minhaj’s routine?

From my vantage point in the ballroom, he was a hit… a few jokes felt uncomfortable, and some journos might have stifled their laughter at the Trump jabs, but overall, a hit. 

CNN prez Jeff Zucker told Minhaj afterward that he “killed it.” And about those jokes aimed at CNN, Fox and MSNBC? “Pretty much spot on,” Zucker told the NYT’s Michael Grynbaum…

“We’re living in this strange time where trust is more important than truth”

Minhaj’s riff about (white) journalists finally learning how it feels to be a minority got a lot of social media love… and this serious comment also stood out to me:

“Every day on ‘The Daily Show,’ we do these jokes all the time: ‘the administration lies, Trump flip flops.’ It doesn’t matter. His supporters still trust him… Maybe it’s because we’re living in this strange time where trust is more important than truth. And supporters of President Trump trust him. And I know journalists, you guys are definitely trying to do good work. I just think that a lot of people don’t trust you right now. And can you blame them? I mean, unlike Anderson Cooper‘s bone structure, you guys have been far from perfect…”

Saturday’s other dinner 

Sandra Gonzalez emails: Video producer Abby Brooks and I braved the 90-degree temps in D.C. to hit the red carpet for Samantha Bee‘s “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.” Bee was the first to walk the carpet… Here’s what she told us…

 — More: The night’s biggest surprise guest was Will Ferrell, who resurrected his W impression on stage… The event raised over $200,000 for the Committee to Protect Journalists…

 — Brian Lowry emails: Nobody can accuse Samantha Bee of being a company gal. Arguably the harshest media critique in her TBS special was aimed at sister network CNN.That said, there was some synergy in the ads the telecast carried, including a ton of plugs for upcoming TNT dramas and spots for the Warner Bros. summer movies “Wonder Woman” and “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword…”

A more honest and trustworthy White House?

My essay at the end of Sunday’s show:

We’re 100 days in, and questions about credibility continue to hover over the White House like a dark cloud. From my perspective as a media reporter, that is the biggest story of this young presidency — the dishonesty. says Trump continues to be the king of whoppers. The NYT’s fact-checker found “at least one false or misleading claim a day,” except on days when he went golfing. And BuzzFeed found pretty much the same thing, saying, “Trump’s falsehoods come with an unprecedented frequency, scale and lack of shame.”

NBC’s Chuck Todd honed in on this on Friday and said, “Let’s face it, we have been conditioned to discount the president’s words already.” To me, that’s the biggest story of the next 100 days — whether we will see a more honest and trustworthy White House…

Catch up on Sunday’s show…

Listen to the podcast here… read the transcript… Or watch the video clips on!

For the record, part two

 — “NBCUniversal is creating its own Disney Channel,” Brooks Barnes reports. “Starting on Sept. 9, NBCUniversal will turn one of its smallest cable properties, Sprout, into a network called Universal Kids…” (NYT

Anne Helen Petersen‘s latest: “The Company Behind ‘The National Enquirer’ Just Bought ‘Us Weekly’ — Here’s Why That Matters” 

 — Where did Trump succeed in his first 100 days? “In the shifting of culture and the breaking of political norms,” Rosie Gray says… 

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