The Congress News


DC party weekend; 2 new MSNBC shows; Trump selling; Time not selling; Cronkite Awards; Bret Stephens’ debut; weekend recommendations

By Brian Stelter and the CNNMoney Media team. View this email in your browser!
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Live from DC…
The White House-less Correspondents’ Dinner

Hello from DC, where it’s time for the party formerly known as #NerdProm. President Trump the counter-programmer will be in PA on Saturday evening while media types celebrate 100 days of Trump coverage in DC. The cable newsers are likely to show portions of both events…

Mood music

Dylan Byers emails: With Trump in the White House and out of the dinner ballroom, the correspondents’ dinner weekend has once again become a local, rather than an international, affair. No more A-list actors, athletes and models; no more racing around town from cocktail party to cocktail party; no more hope of running into Graydon Carter and the VP after midnight at the French Embassy… it’s out with the Vanity Fair, in with the Capitol (Rank and) File.

The refrain you’ll hear from the party’s defenders is that it’s finally about the journalists and the scholarships, as it should be… and yet anyone who tells you they prefer this to the Obama era is probably lying to you…

Administration officials skipping the dinner in “solidarity” with Trump

More from Dylan: Our sympathies to Sean Spicer… no one enjoyed a White House Correspondents’ Dinner party circuit more than he did… and yet by the edict of his boss, no one from the White House is allowed to attend this year… (though we’ve seen more than a few Trump staffers at some of the other parties already)

Imagine what Trump might have said at the dinner…

Brian Lowry emails: THR enlisted “Modern Family” writer and longtime Trump critic Danny Zuker to write the speech that the president might have given — had he attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner…

Sam Bee’s big show 

Sandra Gonzalez is here with Dylan and me in DC… She says Samantha Bee‘s “Not The W.H. Correspondents’ Dinner” has turned out to be a very hot ticket: “About 2,600 guests are expected to attend the event on Saturday, which is being held at DAR Constitution Hall…” It’ll air on TBS and Twitter Saturday night… Check out Sandra’s full story here… 

 — Programming note: Bee will be on Jake Tapper’s “SOTU” Sunday morning…

This Sunday on “Reliable Sources”

A couple hours after “SOTU,” on the morning after the WHCD, Carl Bernstein, Tara Palmeri, Jason Miller, Lynn Sweet, Dylan Byers and Erik Wemple will join me live from CNN DC…

Another reason to tune in: a live interview with the NYT’s Dean Baquet. Have any questions for the guests? Email me…

Time is not selling

On Friday Time Inc. backed away from plans to sell itself. On the phone with me, CEO Rich Battista declined to comment on any specific bidders, like Meredith, but said “we had multiple parties interested in the company.” But now, he said, the board is committed to a “standalone strategic plan.” The company’s stock slipped 17%…

More layoffs looming?

…That’s the expectation inside Time Inc. Staffers at Time’s magazines are bracing for further cuts to the company’s portfolio — and its workforce. Battista and COO Jen Wong declined to comment on the prospect of layoffs, but Wong optimistically told me “we believe there’s a path” to sustained profitability “even as print declines…”

Trump’s interview blitz

POTUS has been on a media blitz this week — I counted nine interviews with networks, newspapers and web sites. “After saying the first 100 days weren’t important, he’s doing a whole lot of interviews all of a sudden to talk about the first 100 days,” anchor John Berman observed on “CNN Newsroom.” Here’s the list, starting on Wednesday, ending on Saturday:

 — Washington Examiner
 — WSJ
 — WashPost
 — Salena Zito for the Examiner
 — Reuters
 — Bloomberg
 — Washington Times
 — Fox News (Martha MacCallum‘s show)
 — CBS (John Dickerson

One W.H. aide pointedly noted that the interview schedule is reminiscent of Trump’s early campaign days. There have also been lots of background briefings, interviews with aides, and outreach efforts with local media this week… Here’s my full story…

Re-live the news alerts…

Niiiiice. The NYT has assembled all of its front pages from Trump’s first 100 days... and CNN has compiled every news alert that’s been sent out…

THR says Murdochs “have quietly put out feelers for a new head of Fox News”

Just as many industry insiders have suspected, the Murdochs are in the market for a new Fox News CEO. At least that’s what Marisa Guthrie‘s sources say. 

The Murdochs “have quietly put out feelers for a new head of Fox News,” according to her THR report. “And the preference, according to two sources familiar with the Murdochs’ thinking, is that the new leader be female.” This doesn’t mean the network’s co-president Bill Shine is definitely on the way out, but it’s another indication of the turmoil behind the scenes…

 — Meanwhile, former Fox contributor Sarah Palin joined Sean Hannity in publicly standing with Shine on Friday… she wrote, “Hope it’s not true that FOX exec Bill Shine is to be canned. He’s the good guy in all this…”

A new version of “The Five” at 5pm 

On the day Bill O’Reilly was ousted and a new prime time lineup was announced, Fox said “The Five” would be replaced at 5pm by “a one hour program hosted by Eric Bolling to debut on May 1.” But something changed between last week and this week… Bolling now has two co-hosts, Kat Timpf and Eboni K. Williams, and the show sounds like a panel format…

Per TVNewser, it’ll be titled “Fox News Specialists” and “Bolling, Timpf and Williams will be joined by two special guest experts to discuss the top stories driving the headlines of the day.” So… in other words… it’ll be a lot like “The Five?” 

Cable ratings race update

In the O’Reilly era, 8pm was usually Fox’s highest-rated hour, with slight declines at 9 and again at 10. Maybe that’s changing. On Thursday there was a slick uptick between 8 and 9… and Sean Hannity‘s 10pm hour had Fox’s highest demo # of the day. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow topped “The Five” in the demo for a second day in a row. Caveat: it’s way too early to reach any conclusions…

For the record, part one

 — Christopher Dodd is preparing to step down as MPAA chairman… his successor will be Charles Rivkin… (LATimes)

 — Michael Calderone’s scoop:Fox News has broken with the National Election Pool, a consortium of five major television networks and The Associated Press that share the costs and results of exit polls for national elections…”

 — Politico’s fourth annual survey of the White House press corps is out… and as always, it’s a must-read…

 — VF’s Tina Nguyen says Milo Inc. is in the works…

Bret Stephens’ debut 

Dylan Byers emails: Bret Stephens‘ first NYT column dropped Friday afternoon, and as predicted many on the left pilloried him (and the Times) for it. Here’s the column… decide for yourself…

Nicolle Wallace’s promotion 

Politico’s Jake Sherman broke the news Friday morning: Nicolle Wallace is MSNBC‘s new 4pm host, going up against Jake Tapper and Neil Cavuto at that hour. 

Per TVNewser’s Chris Ariens: Steve Kornacki, who has been hosting the 4 p.m. for much of the last year, will continue to contribute to the revamped hour, which begins in May, MSNBC says. He’ll also move into a larger role providing analysis for both MSNBC and NBC News…”

Up next on MSNBC: Hugh Hewitt 

NYMag’s Yashar Ali broke this news Friday afternoon: radio host and NBC/MSNBC contributor Hugh Hewitt “in talks with MSNBC for his own weekend show.” A source confirms that Hewitt will likely debut on the weekends in June… MSNBC has been adding news and talk programming on Saturdays and Sundays, replacing “Lockup” repeats… seems like the idea is to have a wide range of views, from Joy Reid to Ari Melber to Hewitt…

For the record, part two

 — Via TVNewser: “For the third time in 5 weeks, ‘CBS This Morning’ has come within 150,000 viewers of NBC’s ‘Today’ show. Wednesday’s episode of CTM trailed Today by 147,000 viewers…”

 — Friday marked the launch of STATE, a new digital magazine from CNNPolitics… here’s the first issue…

 — Politico media reporter Kelsey Sutton is jumping to Mic… she’ll cover media and politics there starting May 15…

The Cronkite Awards

The producers of “Reliable Sources” were at the National Press Club on Friday for the Walter Cronkite Awards, a biennial celebration of TV political journalism. Katy Tur, Jake Tapper and Jorge Ramos were the national individual winners and “Reliable Sources” was the winner for national news program. This recognition meant a lot to our team.

Spotted: Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Marty Kaplan, Judy Muller, Jon Auerbach, Jason Farkas, Rick Davis, Shanta Covington, Lee Alexander, Audrey Benson, Emily Kuhn, Rich Boehne, Ali Zelenko, Dafna Linzer, Mark Kornblau, Brad Jaffy, Jake Urbanski, Martin Savidge, and my mom and one of my brothers 🙂 

Trump and the media
Trump (and others) boosting the ratings for “Fox & Friends” 

Tom Kludt emails: There’s been an avalanche of “100 days” content, but I kindly ask that you take a look at my own contribution to the genre, which examines one clear winner in the start of Trump’s presidency: “Fox & Friends!” It’s the show adored by the president more than any other… and it has seen itself elevated in the public discourse by Trump, going from mere morning gabfest to perhaps the most influential program on cable news. And it has enjoyed a ratings surge to boot… Read Tom’s full story here…

Speaking of TV winners in the Trump age…

“Trump presidency produces winners in Hollywood”

Brian Lowry emails: Stephen Colbert joked this week about having been a beneficiary of Trump’s first 100 days, having passed Jimmy Fallon in terms of total viewers. But he’s not the only showbiz winner thus far… Here’s our look at some of the other Trump beneficiaries… 

“How could they not cover Trump?”

A headline in Comcast‘s hometown Philly Inquirer: “Comcast’s CNBC faces a big threat from Fox Business Network.” Bob Fernandez notes that Fox Biz “has beaten CNBC in total viewers during the key daytime stock-market hours over the last two quarters.”

Key graf: “CNBC insists that Fox Business has morphed into a Breitbart-type cheerleader for Trump, riding the populist wave and sharing conservative Fox News viewers. But Fox Business executives ask: How could they not cover Trump? As CNBC rode its traditional format, Fox adjusted its programming to focus on issues related to jobs and prosperity instead of obsessively tracking the market…”

Floyd Abrams talks Trump

On our midweek podcast, I spoke with the famed First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams about what he called Trump’s “daily denigration of the press…” what the president has done and what he hasn’t done… plus Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and the theme of Abrams’ new book “The Soul of the First Amendment…”

 –> You can download/stream the discussion through iTunes and through a number of other sites…

This weekend: Documentaries marking the 25th anniversary of the L.A. Riots 

Brian Lowry emails: Add two more worthwhile documentaries to those marking the 25th anniversary of the L.A. Riots this weekend — ABC’s “Let it Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992” and National Geographic Channel’s “LA 92.” From a media perspective, a theme that keeps emerging is how the Rodney King beating became one of the first viral videos, previewing the combustible mix of ubiquitous cellphones, police abuses and 24-hour news that has played out multiple times in the years since. Read Lowry’s column here…

The entertainment desk
NBC synergy! Kelly interviews the Kardashians 

Megyn Kelly “visited Los Angeles this week to sit down with the entire Kardashian family for a piece that could run during her new morning show’s first week on air, according to people familiar with the matter,” Variety’s Brian Steinberg reports…

Chloe interviews Geena Davis 

Chloe Melas emails: I had a chance to catch up with Geena Davis about how “Thelma & Louise” and “A League of Their Own” made her become a crusader for women’s rights…

 — Programming note: Chloe will be on HLN’s “Weekend Express” Sunday at 10:30am… discussing the closing night of the Tribeca Film Festival and highlighting her recent interviews…

Lowry reviews “The President Show”

Brian Lowry emails: In case you missed it… Comedy Central‘s “The President Show” premiered Thursday, an occasionally amusing spoof of Trump that also displayed some of the limitations in the concept… Read Lowry’s full review here…

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