From the Beast’s media desk
Welcome to this week’s edition of Confider, the media newsletter that pulls back the curtain to reveal what’s really going on inside the world’s most powerful navel-gazing industry. Subscribe here and send your questions, tips, and complaints here.
EXCLUSIVE — THE FOX MOLE HUNT: Fox News executives are “full-on freaked out” about the leak of never-aired clips of Tucker Carlson’s interview with Kayne West, Confider has learned, and the network is closing in on the “mole” who was the source of the embarrassing breach. A few weeks ago, Carlson interviewed West, who now goes by the mononym Ye, and touted him as a brave truth-teller dismissed by liberal elites for his increasingly far-right beliefs and stunts like wearing a “White Lives Matter” shirt to Paris Fashion Week. Despite the Fox News celebration of West’s intellect, unaired snippets leaked to Vice’s Motherboard showed the rapper and fashion mogul making openly antisemitic remarks and bizarre claims about “fake children” being used to manipulate his kids. Fox may be closing in on the leaker, but it’s now almost a week since Vice published the videos. This is a notable detail because in 2012, the last time the network dealt with a major video breach, it found and escorted the leaker—Bill O’Reilly’s then-associate producer Joe Muto—out of the building in less than 24 hours. “This new leaker learned from my mistakes,” Muto told Confider. “The main reason I got caught is that I wasn’t covering my digital trail particularly well. They’re obviously doing a better job than I did if they haven’t been found yet.” Following Muto’s leaks to Gawker, the network instituted stricter security protocols for accessing video, making it more difficult to access sensitive outtakes like the Ye ones. “It seems this leaker has found a way around that,” Muto remarked. If you’re the leaker, or anyone else at Fox with some juicy info, we’d love to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. A Fox News spokesperson declined to comment.
EXCLUSIVE — ABC NEWS BOSS IS THE NEWS: ABC News president Kim Godwin thinks she’s “the star of the show,” according to seven ABC insiders—including reporters, producers, and executives—who complained to Confider that the boss seems too busy making high-profile public appearances to actually run the news division. Godwin, as Confider revealed earlier this year, has earned the nickname “The Banker” among some colleagues owing to the casual hours she keeps and her alleged unavailability when major news breaks. But now staffers say Godwin seeks a peculiar amount of star treatment for a news boss. For example, according to multiple people familiar with the matter, in August she took advantage of a “glam squad” flown in from Los Angeles and put up at a hotel for the week—at ABC’s expense—to do her hair and make up for appearances at the National Association of Black Journalists conference in Las Vegas. The move was unusual, these sources said, as local stylists were on hand and could have easily been used for a far smaller tab. “Kim expects to be treated like talent,” one ABC News staffer told Confider. The ABC News chief also had a bodyguard watch over her at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner—another unusual move, Confider has learned, as no other news president had such protection at the well-guarded event. Several ABC News employees claimed Queen Elizabeth’s death was the latest example of a major news event where Godwin was nowhere to be found: She was in Chicago giving another speech, this time at the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists conference, where we hear a photographer was on-hand to capture her every move. That was a case of poor timing, perhaps, but staffers say there is one “event” Godwin refuses to miss: the “Happy Birthday” singalongs she leads on the 9 a.m. editorial call. “It’s like we are in kindergarten,” one staffer told Confider. This would hardly be the first time a broadcast news prez came under fire for having stars in their eyes: As The Daily Beast reported, NBC News chief Noah Oppenheim had employees “furious” over his “self-dealing” when he repeatedly used network airwaves to promote his various side hustles. In a statement to Confider, an ABC News flack defended Godwin from displeased colleagues, emailing us: “This is nonsense. Since Kim joined, ABC News has grown its #1 position, significantly increased its volume of new programming for all platforms, and received a record number – 41 – News & Documentary Emmy nominations, to name a few. We will continue to let the great work of this team and her leadership speak for itself.”
EXCLUSIVE — THE NEWSMAX BIDEN INTERVIEW: Newsmax is set to interview Jill Biden tonight. Yes, you read that correctly: Newsmax is interviewing a Biden. Confider reached out to the interviewer, Nancy Brinker, founder of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, to find out how she got Biden to sit down with the right-wing cable news network. Brinker was very kind and eager to chat, but ultimately Newsmax brass wouldn’t let us talk to her for unspecified reasons. Instead, a man named Bill Daddi emailed a transcript of the interview along with bullet points claiming Newsmax is not right-wing or MAGA and supports President Joe Biden’s vaccine rollout and Ukraine aid—“which is not true of Fox News.” In the interview, airing at 9 p.m. ET, Biden said Americans should spend less time being angry, leading Brinker to randomly express her astonishment at vaccine skepticism. She should tell that to some of her colleagues.
EXCLUSIVE — MTG’S MEDIA MINDERS: Before and after taking office, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene made a spectacle out of harassing victims of the 2018 Parkland school shooting, but she briefly entertained a meeting with Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was killed in the massacre—that is, until Greene’s office canceled the meeting because of “House floor activity.” Turns out, that excuse was not true. In actuality, she canceled because a right-wing media figure told her to do so. According to reporter Robert Draper’s new book, Weapons of Mass Delusion: When the Republican Party Lost Its Mind, which Confider obtained and reviewed in advance of its Tuesday publication, Greene bailed on Guttenberg on the advice of Breitbart senior editor-at-large Joel Pollak. “It just shows what a fraud she is,” Guttenberg told Confider. “She goes out attacking and harassing people and she’s afraid to actually have to face them. It is amazing to me.” Neither Pollak nor Greene’s office responded to requests for comment.
OUT OF GAS: Fox News star Laura Ingraham on Monday tried to attack President Biden over gas prices by posting a pic of an Exxon fuel pump showing $4.899 per gallon. But just like the time Ingraham posted a pic of a single liquor bottle on an otherwise spotless street to claim NYC was a hellhole, her attempted dunk was more of an own-goal: Twitter users on Monday promptly pointed out that Ingraham—who makes at least seven figures per year—posted the price of Supreme+ Premium gas, Exxon’s most expensive petrol often priced 30 percent higher per gallon than regular.
IN PLAIN SIGHT: CNN honcho Chris Licht’s sacrificial lamb Brian Stelter seen recently parading around the New York Times newsroom… Wall Street Journal EIC Matt Murray and former editor-in-chief Gerry Baker on Wednesday toasting former Dow Jones chief executive and Journal publisher Will Lewis at a Manhattan party celebrating the launch of “no-bias news” publisher The News Movement, which Lewis founded with ex-BBC editorial director Kamal Ahmed… Axios journos Sara Fischer, Cuneyt Dill, and Lachlan Markay, along with Politico scribes Alex Thompson and Daniel Lippman attend a party (heavily sponsored by Boeing) Friday at The LINE DC hotel celebrating the release of Axios co-founders (and former Politico bigwigs) Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy Schwartz’s new book Smart Brevity… Star reporters like CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Politico’s Alex Burns, and NYT’s Michael Bender were on-hand later that evening to toast Maggie Haberman’s scoopy new book at the El Cielo Social Club. Politico’s marquee newsletter Playbook notably did not blurb the Axios event celebrating their ex-stars but did pen a large graf on former colleague Haberman’s event.
WE HEAR WHISPERS: Former Bernie Sanders flack Briahna Joy Gray’s gig on Rising, The Hill’s controversial web show, may be in jeopardy. She recently spoke out over the show’s censorship and firing of Katie Halper and the Beltway rag has been openly trying out new hosts in recent days, including Democratic strategist Ameshia Cross.
More from the Beast’s Media Desk
—Speaking of Ye, the rapper is apparently now buying Parler, a MAGA social-media hellsite, after getting booted from both Twitter and IG for antisemitic posts. TMZ reported that Ye is being influenced by right-wing media grifter Candace Owens, whose husband is CEO of Parler. Read more about that here.
—Before he was a defender of Alex Jones and his unhinged conspiracy theories, Tucker Carlson was repulsed by the far-right radio host’s unhinged claims. Video from 2012 shows the Fox News star saying Jones “freaks me out” and mocking his conspiracies. More here.
—The Wall Street Journal has an in-depth look inside Rupert Murdoch’s proposal to reunite News Corp and Fox Corp, with insiders noting that a merger would result in his son, Lachlan Murdoch, seeing a “significant expansion” in power. Read more on that here.
—A BBC investigation found that Al Jazeera allegedly fosters a “toxic work culture where complaints of harassment, sexism, bullying and racism largely go unaddressed.” More here.
**WHAT ARE WE OUTRAGED ABOUT NOW?**
By now, you’ve likely heard that zoomers have canceled the thumbs-up emoji for being “hostile” and “passive-aggressive,” sparking “a generational war.” But you likely haven’t heard that this multi-day news cycle about Gen Z inflicting the dreaded “cancel culture” on an emoji stems from a single Reddit comment posted 10 months ago. Based on a 24-year-old Redditor confessing they aren’t “adult enough to be comfortable” with the emoji, the New York Post told readers to “buckle up” because “cancel culture has officially come for emojis,” prompting other conservative pubs to quickly follow suit. Fox News soon got in on the action, devoting several segments last week to the scourge of twenty-somethings supposedly banning others from adding a thumbs-up to their messages. “We have to somehow change our behavior and our silent communication because they’re a bunch of snowflakes? No, thanks,” Fox News host Emily Compagno grumbled Wednesday on-air. A bogus news cycle around the thumbs-up emoji wasn’t just confined to right-wing media, however: Mainstream outlets also jumped on the silly ragebait, with NBC’s Today show warning this has become a “highly contested topic between generations.”
Confider will be back next week with more saucy scooplets. In the meantime, subscribe here and send us questions, complaints, or tips here.
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